How To Make The Most Of Your Private School Shadow Day

Illustration by Kaili Jiemi.

Shadow days are a way for students and, sometimes, parents to get an understanding of a private or charter school. The experience covers a day in the life of a typical student at the institution and helps prospective students see what the school offers. Because shadow days are such an important part of determining what school is the best fit for a student, we talked with Mike Comiskey, the director of admissions at Rockhurst High School, who explained how to make the most of shadow days and prepare for admissions.

What are admissions like when applying to a private school?

One unique aspect of our application process is it opens the fall of [a student’s] eighth-grade year, with early decisions going out in February of eighth grade, which may be different or early for families not familiar with the private school process. Our admissions process is streamlined through our online application portal and consists of the application, student statement, parent or guardian statement, middle school transcripts, teacher recommendation from one of their middle school teachers and sitting for the High School Placement Test. All of these aspects are evaluated by our application review committee

In preparing for a shadow day, what advice would you give to prospective parents and students?

A: We always expect some nerves from our shadow visitors and their parents—totally normal! Our shadow day is an experience just for the applicant and is another way for our applicants to get a feel of Rockhurst. We hope they ask themselves, “Can I see myself here for the next four years?” Our shadow visitors interact with students, faculty and staff, sit in on class time; enjoy social activities and lunch.

What is the process after shadowing?

The process after a shadow visit will depend on when they shadow. If they’ve already applied, then the shadow experiences could be a validation of their interest in Rockhurst, but for those that have not applied, we hope it’s an experience that inclines them to apply.

How can students make the most out of their day? What makes the day effective for them?

A: I hope they come in with an open mind to get a feel for life as a student at Rockhurst. We advise all interested eighth graders to shadow in the fall semester, if possible, but we also offer days in the spring semester.

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