It has certainly been quite a journey here in Admissions during COVID-19. It was early March when all the traditional structure to the decision process was replaced with a remote and virtual response to celebrating accepted students and families invited to join our community in the Fall of 2020. But adapt, we did! With a heightened sense of working together, this community rallied and built robust and informative virtual events to personalize the Brewster experience and distinguish our value from our competition.
The new enrollment cycle was strong—particularly given the unknowns and erratic world that a pandemic had created. We welcomed 146 new students to our community. We built a foundation on the trust that returning families had in our capacity to keep their children safe and to continue to provide the consequential learning experience that drew them to Brewster in the first place. Combined with the confidence shown by our newly enrolled families, both in person and from afar, we began the 2020-21 school year with a crowd!
As we began to discuss and plan for next year’s enrollment, the complexities of undetermined realities, once again, joined the conversation. How do we acclimate in creative ways that deliver on mission and manage the cost of delivering a highly personalized education? How would the continuing pandemic influence our enrollment outcome? How could we be responsive to the financial challenges that many families might be facing and still provide quality in the program and deliver on our promises? Our discussions quickly turned to the possibility of a tuition freeze for the 2021-22 school year. In late fall, school leadership brought this consideration to the Board of Trustees who unanimously agreed that it was absolutely reasonable and appropriately responsive. An additional aspect in the discussion was the importance of managing our tuition costs in relation to our peer schools to ensure that families continue to be able to make their decision based on the school that provides the right student match.
Beginning last spring and well into this year, there has been a strong collaborative effort among Brewster and a small group of independent schools. Admission directors and heads of schools have regularly conferred over COVID challenges, ways to integrate our programs with a unified approach, and structures that allowed us to market our schools collectively by sharing resources and expertise. This collaboration allowed us to provide a fall athletic season—which we know was important to many families. (In fact, ours was the only league in New England to have a fall season for its student-athletes.)
One of the considerations discussed and that we have adapted is an early acceptance for new students starting in January. Any student who completes the application by January 15 will receive a decision by February 1. Families will not be bound by an early contract as the agreed upon deadline date for new student enrollment decisions will continue to be April 10. That being said, families whose child is admitted on February 1 are more than welcome to submit their contract and deposit at any time before April 10. We believe that providing this option will relieve possible stress for those admitted on February 1 in a year where we know stress is coming from all angles. We believe if we can provide a longer runway for our prospective families to best understand Brewster and feel as confident as possible in their decision, we are more than happy to do that.
As I look back on the many conversations that I have had with families over the past eight months, I am amazed at the dedication that parents bring to this decision process and the sacrifices they are willing to make for their children’s education. The team here in Admissions has shown that same level of personal dedication to ensuring that parents have all the information needed to make a sound decision. We all know that Brewster is a special and unique school. From all of us in Admissions, thank you for your help and support in helping our prospective families best understand who we are. We are already excited for what the community will look like next year and look forward to celebrating with open arms and high fives without the distance of physical spacing come next September.
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