ursuline 1

Private schools go into overdrive with open houses

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Ursuline Academy welcomes families to an open house for prospective families. Photo from 2021's open house.

Ursuline Academy welcomes families to an open house for prospective families. Photo from 2021’s open house.

Private schools across Delaware are in the thick of recruiting season, and most of them are holding open houses in the coming weeks.

The programs for those open houses are designed both to entice the students, but also answer any questions they and their families have, so everybody can be sure the match is good.

They are popular for both students and schools: Most students who attend a private school also went to one of its open houses.

Ursuline Academy, which on Sunday is holding its first of two open houses, is preparing to make the day one to remember.

“They get to see the show,” said Lisa Clody, director of enrollment management at Ursuline.

“They get to see everything nice and fancy and everybody is happily handing out information to the attendees.”  

In addition, Ursuline’s head chef John Maguire is making hundreds of sample-sized dishes for students and families to try. 

Dozens of Ursuline staff and students will be in and out of the campus buildings, giving families tours that tie into the packets detailing the school’s history, extracurricular activities, goals and mission, enrollment demographics, or any other information that can give a prospective family a thorough overview of the school. 

Many of the attendees are sixth or seventh grade students whose families want to start the process of looking and selecting a high school way in advance, Clody added. 

Students get to see more of what it’s like to attend Ursuline and parents can see what kind of person their child will become if they attend a particular school. 

“It’s the students who sell the school,” Clody said. “The parents are able to see students, and they’re poised, they’re articulate, and the parents are able to say, ‘That’s who I want my daughter or son to be.’”

In addition to being able to meet teachers and students, Ursuline Admission Specialist Jenna Jackson said it’s a great opportunity for prospective students to meet athletic and club coaches, since sports are ingrained in the school’s culture. 

“Our school is like a mini college,” she said. “It’s a campus, so they can walk from building to building and they can see stuff out on the green and they can see stuff in the Student Life Center and they can have access to coaches they might not have access to on a regular day.”

Padua Academy’s Admissions Director, Shana Rossi, said Padua breaks open house tours into groups of one to three families, who are matched by prospective students’ age, hobbies, subject interests, and other factors. 

This helps Padua group like-minded families to create a positive experience, while giving the academy a general overview of the type of students that they are attracting. 

The school is asking families to make a significant investment, Rossi said.

“We need to show them the return on that investment,” she said. “So that’s what we try to do at these open houses. We show them the people and environment that will surround them, and give parents a vision for what their child will look like in two, three years.”

She added that parents today are more actively invested in their children’s education than previous generations.

Where a dad in the ‘90s  might have dropped his daughter off for eight hours and not thought about her again, parents today want to know by the hour what their children are doing in school. 

The school follows up open houses with its “Panda for a Day” program that allows prospective students and parents to sit through four classes in one day to get a feel of the school climate and instruction.

Campus tours are always available to students and families who miss open houses, the organizers said.

Here are some upcoming open houses. Click on the school name to register or to get more information.

Ursuline Academy

Sunday, Oct. 2, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Upper School

Nov. 11, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Lower and Middle Schools

St. Andrew’s School

Through Dec. 14, upon individual request 

Tower Hill School

Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. and Dec. 1 at 9 a.m.

Wilmington Friends School

Oct. 18 at 5 p.m.

Archmere Academy

“Shadow Days” all year upon request

Salesianum School

Sunday, Oct. 2 starting at 12:30 p.m.

St. Elizabeth School

Oct. 16, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – High School

Jan. 30, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Elementary School

Jan. 31, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Elementary School

Feb. 2, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. – Elementary School

Sanford School 

Tuesday, Oct. 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Upper School

Nov. 8, 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Upper School

The Tatnall School, Wilmington

Oct. 20, 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. – Early Childhood & Lower School

Nov. 5, 9:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. – Lower School

Nov. 5, 10 a.m. to noon – Middle and Upper School

Delmarva Christian Schools

Nov. 10, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Grades 9 through 12 at Georgetown campus and grades pre-k through 8 at Milton campus. 

Saint Mark’s High School

Oct. 23, noon to 3 p.m.

The Independence School

Nov. 13, 1 p.m.


Share this Post