For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a time of pleasure and company, tables heaping with food and surrounded by families and friends. But for a select few, this time of year brings on a feeling of envy and dread: You only get one chance to provide your children with entrée into elite society—and we’re not talking about dark meat. That’s right, frenzied mothers and fathers throughout Manhattan are working around the clock to finish their kids’ applications to top private schools. This is not child’s play.
According to Forbes‘ 2010 assessment, five of the nation’s top 10 prep schools are located in New York City. Cultivating the nation’s next crop of Ivy Leaguers, bankers, lawyers, and Senators, these institutions are calling all Tiger Moms and Proud Papas to invest in the future of their little ones.
Let’s not forget about the boarding school set. Even after suffering through the initial application process in kindergarten, some masochistic parents feel the need to do it all over again in the eighth grade. Every autumn, city kids are shipped off to quaint New England towns with solid names like Andover, Exeter, Groton and Deerfield.
And then there’s the price tag. With boarding school tuition rivaling the nation’s best colleges, and private day schools in New York costing over $30,000 per year (several closer to $40,000), parents are keen to know as much about their children’s schools as they knew about their first spouses. Probably more.
At every school, there are certain people every parent should know. The head of school is a good place to start. Namedropping the headmaster in your interview is mandatory if your child has any chance of being accepted. But oftentimes there are other bigwigs operating behind the scenes. Be it the admissions director, the head of college counseling or the president of the board, these schools are rife with movers and shakers who, ultimately, will have a palpable effect on your child’s future.
Here is Observer‘s list of the top two dozen people you need to know as the private school application season comes to a close.