Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Preschool Edition, Part 1

Today's photo is one from the archives.

In September Zoe will begin preschool or some other away-from-home toddler program. There are a large number of schools to choose from and last October I started looking into them, going on tours and sending in registration forms and deposits. The deposits do not guarantee Zoe a spot at the school, but simply put me in line in the order in which the registration was received. But even that does not guarantee me a spot. Many of the schools determine their enrollment by other factors, including (but not limited to) race, ethnicity, sex, miscellaneous diversity and even proximity to the school. Administrators of popular schools like to create an air of exclusiveness, which leaves one with the impression that getting into their school is highly unlikely. They always, however, suggest that you send in your registration fee as soon as possible, just to be safe.

I looked at, looked into, or applied to about a dozen schools. One of the more popular schools had a three-tier level of rejection. If you received a level one letter you actually had a chance of being accepted. Those applicants who received a level two letter where warned that in order for you child to have any chance of getting in a good number of level one children would have to be kidnapped by the Taliban (and held until the start of the age three program). At level three, the level of rejection I received, there stood a better chance of this blog winning a Pulitzer than my child getting accepted in.

These schools toy with us parents. One school that I spoke with on a number of occasions had me believing that I (Zoe) was a shoe-in. It was a small school that claimed that they took most children based on recommendations from current students parents. I know two couples who currently send their children there, and they both put a good word in for me. Not only was I unceremoniously rejected (a message was left on my answering machine), but when I showed up for the tour (just in case an opening occurred) I found that the director had forgotten that she had scheduled with me and did not show up that day. Another school, one that I would very much like to get Zoe into, informed me that I did not make the cut, only to call me later the same day to tell me that there had been a cancellation and I made the very bottom of the list. I’m not necessarily in but I am allowed to take the tour. And if, on the day of the tour, there is an opening than I need to give them a deposit then and there.

I haven’t made a final decision yet because some schools don’t notify parents until March. However, other schools have already told me there are openings and they are filling up fast. Ultimately, between the few that I have narrowed down (and that I have not been rejected from) it probably doesn’t really matter at this point, at least not this first year. I realize that some Ivy League’s will base their decisions on whether classical music was played to the child in utero, but really all I want is for Zoe to be happy; happy and able to do calculus by first grade.

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