COVID has changed the way we do many day-to-day things and that includes the way families can learn about prospective schools for their kids. Many day schools and preparatory schools have found innovative ways to conduct open houses, give tours and get parents and students the information they need to make this big decision.

Tara Klipstein, upper school director of admissions at Rutgers Prep in Somerset says that the school took a look at what a “live” open house would be like in normal circumstances and did their best to mirror that experience.

Our headmaster always speaks,” she says of their open houses. “So, we planned that in our virtual open house, the headmaster welcomes families live.” Parents still get to see a video overview of the school and a campus tour is still part of the experience. The virtual format has allowed Rutgers Prep to put the focus on their students who share their experiences at the school with prospective families.

Parents have responded well to the fact that the virtual open house has a set time – the whole experience lasts 45 minutes and since it is a webinar, attendees don’t need to be on camera. This format works well for families who want information but are also juggling multiple responsibilities at home.

“We get 100 percent of our families to stay for the whole tour and many applications have been submitted at end of open houses,” she says. Rutgers Prep has done so well with this virtual format that they may continue to use it in some capacity even when life gets back to normal. You can click here to register for an upcoming open house.

At Newark Academy in Livingston, Dr. Renée Walker, director of communications and marketing, says the school is offering an array of virtual opportunities for students and families interested in applying for admission for the 2021-22 school year. Newark Academy typically receives approximately 600 applications and enrolls between 110-115 students.

Among the virtual admission opportunities offered are three admission open house events that took place last fall. These events showcased the school’s faculty and administrative leadership team as well as panel discussions by current students. There’s a weekly “Admissions 101” session for prospective parents and students to meet admission director Keith Fischer and his team. These sessions cover the basics of how to apply.

There are also monthly special online programs offered in a conversational format, which encourages students and parents to gain information on specific topics including arts, athletics, financial aid and specific groups for underrepresented minority applicants.

A Virtual 360 Look at the Campus available through the Newark Academy website, a Virtual Tour led by Newark Academy current students and the “Meet an NA Parent Program” help prospective parents better understand the school culture.

Families who are interested in attending Newark Academy can always contact the Office of Admission and Enrollment Management at admission@newarka.edu.

At Wardlaw + Hartridge in Edison, parents can choose from three virtual admission information sessions this month to learn more about the Early Childhood, Lower School, Middle School and Upper School programs.

The sessions include presentations by teachers and administrators. Student ambassadors are also available for discussions with prospective parents and students. In addition, the admission team, led by Gerard Gonnella (director of admission and financial aid) and Ana De Leon (associate director of admission), conduct Zoom meetings with all prospective families. This reflects the same personal attention students receive at the school.

Wardlaw + Hartridge also offers a virtual tour on its website so parents and students can get a feel for the campus.

With so many options, prospective parents and students can still get all the information they need to make the best decision when it comes to choosing a school.