Our Kids
Glen Herbert - Editor

Glen Herbert
Editor/Writer, Our Kids Media

December, 2020

From Sep 21 to Oct 24 this year, we’ve hosted a series of events known as the Admissions Pathway to enable parents to match with their right schools through a guided, virtual experience. Below are some of the feedback from participating schools and attendees.

I called David McBride, Vice Principal of Enrolment Management at UCC, to ask for his candid thoughts on the Admissions Pathway, and he didn’t disappoint. Going in he admits it was hard to know what to expect. There simply weren’t any reference points beyond the live expos. “Typically we would go down to Roy Thomson Hall and we’d see 500 people.” This wasn’t that. “But at the end of it, did I get off it and think, ‘Well that was awesome?’ Yes.”

Kathy LaBranche, director of admissions for Trinity College School, agreed. “There’s a lot that went well,” she feels, particularly due to the context that was created around the Admissions Pathway live events through all the onboarding that occurred prior to them. “It wasn't just ‘Let’s go virtual and go online.’” Instead, “It was, ‘How can we make this better? How can we deliver service for our families? How can we make a better connection with schools?’ It was so incredibly thoughtful.” As a result, “the time we spent online with Our Kids was way more successful than any of our other partners. It certainly was the most strategic.”

Many I spoke with were clear that it’s not simply a case of “loved it” or “didn’t love it.” If there’s a common theme, it’s the need to balance expectations against outcomes. “I think I differ a bit from my colleagues at other schools,” says LaBranche. “I would way more prefer to have stats that show a much lower inquiry level and a better conversion to application, rather than just having a whole bunch of names being dumped into the top and being completely irrelevant.”

Elizabeth Calderon, Assistant Head of School at Mulgrave School, says that she spent the bulk of her time during the event with four families who, she’s delighted to say, have become “enthusiastic applicants.” “I don't know if they would have found us—I'm sure at some point they would have, because they knew they were moving to Vancouver—but to have the validation from Our Kids, and access through that process, was great.”

Feedback from parents has mirrored that. “Honestly, it was great!,” says one. “Because it was all virtual, I was able to attend many sessions, which is great for information gathering.” Says Yoly Glynn, “each step was a great building block to having a clearer picture of my educational choices. The steps allowed for a gradual understanding of the process and what's required during the application process.”

The fact that this was all new to everyone—us, you, the parents who attended—meant that not all expectations were met. The time frame we worked within was a challenge as well. All this is to say that there is room to grow. We’ll be making the most of that time, developing the concept further by addressing both the bouquets and the brickbats, the regrets and the insights.

“Looking back,” says LaBranche, “I wish I had paid more attention,” in the weeks leading up to the launch. “I'd love a second go at it now that I know and understand what's going on, so we can really capitalize on it. … understanding fully what the possibility is.” Says McBride, “I think you guys are doing as much as you can to help support families, and to support the process, and I’m grateful for that. And I’ve become a bit of a cheerleader … saying that, you know, I think Our Kids is doing great work for us.” We’ll get back to in-person events and all the great things they can provide—the passive discovery, the vibrant energy—but we’ve now got new tools, more options, new perspectives, and a wealth of insights to work with.

The year offered many challenges, though it offered opportunities as well, ones we’d like to welcome and to meet head on. Ultimately, the pandemic has delivered us a new world, and it’s our challenge to live and learn and grow within it. And that’s what we plan to do.


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