It was not part of their plan.
"We were going to wait for Grade 9 as his public school is very good," says Carolyn, mom of two, describing her family's decision to apply to St. Michael's College School (SMCS) in late July 2020 --- well after the traditional Admissions period --- and two years earlier than anticipated.
"We weren’t sure he needed a private school education," Carolyn continues. "Neither of us had one, and we turned out just fine…or so we think!"
Four months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the family re-evaluated options for their eldest son who was in Grade 7 at the time.
"With the school shutdowns and online learning, we became concerned about Nate's engagement in school and the platform for learning," Carolyn says. "We were hearing that the boys at St. Mike’s were still attending school every day and learning the regular curriculum. Mid-summer, we thought we would give it a try and see if Nate could be squeezed in for the fall."
With limited research and without applying to any other schools, the family decided to apply to SMCS for Nate's Grade 8 year.
"Since we didn’t apply until the 11th hour, I didn’t have a plan yet, but if he didn’t get in, we would have waited and tried again for Grade 9," says Carolyn. "We were not really interested in any other private schools."
As their journey unfolded, word of mouth continued to be instrumental in the family's decision-making process.
"He has a few friends who had been accepted for Grade 7, and he was hearing from them how much they loved the school," Carolyn adds. "And we were hearing from their parents how much more engaged their sons were in their studies."
Kim Celotti, Admissions Assistant at SMCS is often the first point of contact for families inquiring about the school --- and especially for those who apply as part of Ongoing Admissions.
The most common question Celotti gets asked by these applicants? "Are we too late to apply? The answer is no," she responds. "As long as we have spots available, we will continue to accept applications."
Typically, each year, the Ongoing Admissions cycle at SMCS begins in mid-March.
It follows on the heels of the Standard Admissions cycle which concludes every December.
"The Ongoing Admissions cycle is helpful for families whose circumstances change later in the year --- for instance, a move or a job relocation to Toronto," says David Fischer, Director of Admissions at SMCS.
The pandemic has been another factor impacting when a family may choose to apply.
"There was a significant increase in interest in Ongoing Admissions because of the robust nature of our Safe at School, Connected at School, Learning at School plan to address COVID 19," continues Fischer. "Families found that this innovative, flexible, and resource-rich plan met the needs of their sons in maintaining educational integrity, consistency, and predictability in the uncertainty created by the pandemic and so interest remained high through the summer months," he says.
The roll-out and ongoing execution of a hybrid model of instruction at SMCS --- enabled by wide-scale IT enhancements across the school --- continue to be critical.
"With the integration of the classroom technology installed for this year, our teachers are going to be able to leverage that for next year and beyond for the benefit of our students," says Chris De Piero '87, Associate Director of Admissions. "We have the ability for 2021-22, to either continue with our current hybrid model or return to our regular scheduling."
Participating in the application process for Ongoing Admissions meant new learnings for Carolyn and her family.
"I had experience from friends, and up front it all sounded very daunting. However, it really turned out very well for our family," she says. "The SSAT exam is probably the most stressful thing, however at the end of the day, this helped bring the seriousness of the school and education to light for our younger son, who just applied for this year."
Ongoing Admissions at SMCS is officially underway as of March 22, 2021. A bonus offering this year will be the presentation of a Spring Virtual Open House slated for Saturday, April 24 providing prospective families an added opportunity to learn even more about the school.
"The process for submitting an application does not change with the Ongoing Admissions cycle," adds De Piero. "The sooner the file can be completed, the sooner it can be reviewed by our committee to provide a response back to the family." he says.
As she prepares for her second son's entry to SMCS in September 2021, Carolyn reflects on her family's quick pivot, decision-making, and journey so far.
"Often it comes down to the cost and struggling with that end of it," she says. "But at the end of the day, we don’t have them for a lot longer, before they become independent. We just figure this is a wonderful gift to give to our children now."
Carolyn adds, "We just can't imagine not having him at St. Mike's. The structure, the fantastic teachers, and the culture. Our son has learned so many things that will impact his education moving forward."
"They learn how to study and they have no choice but to manage their time. We are personally enjoying the enthusiasm that Nate has for school (even amidst the pandemic). The academic environment will give them a fantastic edge in university and help them find their way into a career that they enjoy one day,” she says.
QUICK TIPS FOR ONGOING ADMISSIONS APPLICANTS
NOTE: St. Michael's College School does not accept applications during the school year.