A co-educational private school for Preschool–Grade Eight

Navigating the Secondary School Emotions

Navigating the Secondary School Emotions

January: A Time of Anticipation, Unknown, and Excitement
for Grades 7 and 8

Ed Thompson, Director of Operations and Secondary School Placement

January in the life of a Grade 8 student at Far Hills marks the beginning of secondary school notifications and the start of some exciting decisions about the ninth grade for many students and parents. Students have finished their application essays and have clicked "submit." They have done so from a position of confidence with the support of their teachers and advisors, knowing that they have committed wholeheartedly to a process. Through application essays, interviews, and standardized tests, our students have put forth their best effort—there are plenty of reasons to be proud. This is most likely the first time they have been through such a highly reflective and revelatory process. Students have learned a lot about themselves through this process, and parents have also learned more about their children.

As part of our counseling process, we speak with students and parents about how to "prepare for the envelope." Now, this is somewhat anachronistic, as we are almost past the days of anxiously awaiting the mailman in hopes of finding the coveted thick admissions envelope. Nowadays, schools increasingly notify students of admission decisions through email or online portals. That said, preparing for the envelope is still nerve-racking, and admissions committees are well aware of all the sentiments. 

Committees make difficult decisions based on perceived fit for their institution. Quite often, it's a case of picking a great candidate from a pool of great candidates. As adults in the community, we especially need to model reason and resilience at this time. Good news is cause for celebrations, but best for celebrations to happen at home for the time being (there is plenty of time to celebrate down the road). Sharing the news with friends requires the utmost sensitivity and maturity, as other community members may not have received this good news. Receiving bad news is always difficult, and Far Hills teachers are ready to provide emotional support and perspective. My advice is to focus on the good news and the open doors. Get excited about the opportunities ahead. While it's perfectly normal to have a top-choice school, the reality is that there are many excellent schools out there. 

In examining the possibilities, the question "which school really is the best fit for me?" takes up the lion's share of bandwidth at dinnertime or the ride home from school. A school is an excellent fit when it challenges a student to reach their academic potential while building confidence, developing character, and cultivating relevant skills in preparation for college and the professional world. Fit works both ways. A "best-fit" school values and celebrates each student's talents and contributions. It provides a supportive, enriching community of teachers committed to educating the whole child. It is the perfect extension of the journey they started at Far Hills.

January is also exciting for our Grade 7 families. January means that it's finally their turn and the counseling process begins at the parent level. Dan and I meet with parents to discuss the vision, possibilities, and what-ifs throughout the winter. Following Spring Break, we formally begin our work with the students, preparing them for the school search, application essay-writing, and interviews. 

Far Hills Country Day School has a proud record of sending graduates to the best secondary schools locally and nationally, and we know that tradition will continue this year.


Best regards,

Ed Thompson

Director of Operations and Secondary School Placement