About Laurel > FAQ


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Q: What is a FAQ?
A: F.A.Q. stands for Frequently Asked Questions.
Q: What opportunities are there for parent involvement in the Upper School?
A: There are opportunities to volunteer to support athletic events, performing arts, chaperoning on field trips, serving as class parents, as well as positions on the Laurel School Parents Association. Parents may contact the LSPA for further information.
Q: What kinds of colleges do Laurel graduates attend?
A: The list is wide, and varies according to the particular interests and abilities of the girls. Laurel graduates enjoy a high acceptance rate at colleges and universities across the United States, and are supported by the college guidance office in making appropriate choices that constitute a positive match of ability and interest. 100% of our graduates attend college, and a very high percentage attend their first choice. These schools range from the most selective to highly selective, from large to small, and include both private and public colleges and universities. Please contact the College Guidance office for further information and a list of colleges and universities to which Laurel graduates have gained acceptance.
Q: What are Laurel's policies regarding participation in interscholastic sports?
A: All Laurel girls are encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle which includes physical activity. This may be achieved through participation in Physical Education classes, or by active participation on an interscholastic team. Those wishing to play a sport can do so on a junior varsity or varsity level. Junior varsity participation emphasizes the acquisition skills and experience playing and learning the sport. Participation at either level requires commitment to attend all practices and games, and for each girl to seek to achieve her very best.
Q: How much homework is there in the Upper School?
A: Girls in the Upper School can expect an average of up to 45 minutes of homework for each class, and up to 60 minutes for each Advanced Placement class.
Q: Is there an advisory system?
A: Yes. Every Middle School and Upper School girl is in a group of from six to ten with an advisor. They meet periodically together and individually with the advisor, who teaches at her grade level. The advisor is the primary contact and liason between the school and the parents, and seeks to know and support each advisee academically and emotionally. Every girl at Laurel is known and supported by all faculty, but most especially by her advisor.
Q: Although my daughter is a strong math and science student she is not particularly enthusiastic about these areas of study. Will she be comfortable and appreciated at Laurel?
A: A rigorous academic program is central to a Laurel education. However, we also recognize and celebrate a wide breadth of excellence. At Laurel we encourage each and every girl to find and follow her own passion whether that passion lies in the arts, academics, athletics or some other field.
Q: What grades does Laurel School serve?
A: Laurel School is an independent day school for girls, Kindergarten through Grade 12, with a coeducational Pre-Primary program.
Q: Where is Laurel School located?
A: Laurel School has two campuses. The main suburban campus, located at 1 Lyman Circle, in Shaker Heights, OH is home to all four academic divisions and is set on 11 acres. The Butler Campus, which opened in 2002, is our “outdoor classroom” and is located at 7420 Fairmount Road, Russell Township, OH. The 140-acre Butler Campus of woodlands includes world-class athletic fields, a high and low ropes course, several hiking trails, an outdoor pavilion, our Magic Tree House, a yurt for Pre-Primary outdoor education and the 16,000 square foot Butler Center for Fitness and Wellness.
Q: Do the students wear a uniform?
A: All students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 wear a uniform. Laurel girls have worn uniforms since 1907. Wearing uniforms sends a powerful message to the girls that what our students think is more important than what our students wear. This strengthens the feeling of community. The style of uniform varies by division, and the students have a variety of options.
Q: What are the class sizes at Laurel?
A: In the Upper School, class size can range from five students in advanced level elective to twenty students in a foundational required course. In the Middle School, classes typically range from twelve to sixteen students. In the Primary, classes typically have ten to fifteen girls in each.
Q: How does Laurel School tailor curriculum specifically for girls?
A: At Laurel, we know girls: how they learn, what they think and feel, and what they need to thrive. Laurel School’s The Center for Research on Girls guides all that we do and allows us to educate our faculty on girls’ education and to train our teachers in methods that work best for girls. Our faculty members are experts on girls’ education.
Q: Where do Laurel School graduates attend college?
A: College placement is 100%. Our Class of 2014 was made up of 67 girls and included 6 National Merit Semifinalists and 6 National Merit Commended. When a young woman graduates from Laurel she has a solid academic background, support from the Laurel community and confidence to go to college and beyond. Our girls attend a wide variety of colleges throughout the country and internationally. Our experienced College Guidance Office has relationships with the college admissions officers and look to provide our students with the best fit for college, taking into consideration many factors.
Q: What options are available to students who are interested in more than just academics?
A: Laurel girls are not only smart, they have diverse extra- and co-curricular interests. Many are involved in athletics and the arts. Laurel offers eleven sports in the Upper School and nine sports in the Middle School. Over 70% of students participate in athletics. There are at least two theater productions each year in each of the Upper, Middle, and Primary Schools. In the Upper School, there are also over thirty student clubs and organizations, and each Laurel girl has a community service requirement she must complete before her senior year.
Q: What about educational opportunities outside the classroom?
A: Upper School students have opportunities for research and for internships through out Protégé Program. Laurel’s signature internship and research assistantship program - Protégé - enables each student to focus on her unique passionate areas of interest and build an internship or a research assistantship in that area of interest. While other schools fit students into pre-developed internships and research projects, Laurel stands alone in starting with the student - focusing on her - helping her follow the future that is calling her. These out-of-school learning experiences occur during the school year in semester or year-long formats, as well as during the summer, and are recognized on the Laurel transcript. Girls in Middle and Upper School travel on domestic and international trips throughout Passport Global Initiatives Program. The Passport Program is the opportunity to explore world curricula with trips, exchanges and community-based learning. Examples of past trips and partnerships include those in Botswana, China, Costa Rica, Honduras, Japan, Australia, Europe, Canada and Tanzania. Laurel has developed partnerships with schools and communities in other countries and Laurel’s curriculum actively cultivates students’ understanding of other cultures. The Passport Program is a way Laurel girls can truly act on our mission statement to “better the world.” In addition to travel, the Passport Program brings international girls to Laurel and partners with sister schools in other areas of the world.
Q: How committed is Laurel School to diversity?
A: Equity, inclusion and diversity are implicit in the mission of Laurel School. In order for each girl to fulfill her promise and to better the world, our curricula and learning opportunities inside and outside of the classroom are designed to inspire and engage while respecting multiple customs, traditions, values and perspectives. We understand that social identifiers such as gender, race, religion, socioeconomic status, family configuration, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability and age impact our individual and collective experiences. We are, therefore, guided by Laurel’s values of courage, compassion and ethical action in embracing diversity.
Admission - Student to Student
Q: Why should a family consider sending their daughter to Laurel?
A: Families should consider sending their daughter to Laurel because by the time this is submitted, one of my teachers will have read over this, a peer will have edited it, a friend will have pointed out things that I should add into it, an administrator would have told me, "Way to go! I'm so excited for you," and a member of the kitchen staff will have given me a fist bump. They should know that the community at Laurel will care about them this much. They should send their daughter to Laurel because she can take two languages, crack jokes with her Chemistry teacher, have a teacher want to come in early so that the student fully understand a subject, or become Gandhi for a roundtable discussion. They should have their daughter attend Laurel because she will receive a high quality education where she doesn't just study to ace the test, but she studies for the joy of learning and is encouraged to do so. They should even send her to Laurel to take one of the great art classes like metals so she can learn to make her own jewelry. She should come to Laurel because she will not be judged for being "smarter than the boys", or struggling in class, or what she wears and how she looks, she will just be accepted. Laurel also offers a plethora of courses, so students can find themselves furthering their studies on specific fields they like with ease. Laurel has rich traditions that are humbling to be a part of, and Laurel is made up of people who are caring, outgoing, and supportive-student to staff. (Amy S. '16)
Q: Why did you choose Laurel?
A: Being a member of the Laurel community has been one of the best decisions I have made and has allowed me to grow into the person I am today. Laurel is a school unlike any other. It is a place where every single person is accepted for who she is. Having an environment where the faculty and staff are girls' biggest supporters is something that not many schools have to offer. To me, Laurel feels like a home away from home and I felt this the moment I stepped into the school. Many of the girls who didn't know me, reached out and started conversations. I felt so welcomed into this new community and I know that this is something extraordinarily special about Laurel. (Moira A. '16)
Q: What is your favorite Laurel tradition?
A: I think that our community is unique because of our traditions. Never do I feel so close to our peers and my school than when I am sitting at the Snowflake Assembly, when I am dancing with my class during Song Contest, or when the entire Upper School sings Silent Night together in a pitch dark room lit only by candles. Our traditions don't have the typically dusty, old feeling to them; each year, new girls read poems at the assembly, new grades show off their dance moves, and new voices join the song, but the one constant is that we are all together. (Hannah L.'16)
Q: How do I join the Alumnae Association?
A: If you attended Laurel for at least one year then you are a member of the Alumnae Association (no application required!). The Association is governed by the Alumnae Board, which plans social receptions, service events and professional networking opportunities for all alumnae. The Association also orchestrates two of Laurel's most loved traditions - the Annual Holiday Luncheon and Class Song Contest in December as well as Alumnae Weekend in May.
Q: I received an email/postcard/phone call from a company asking for my personal information. They said they were working on a directory for Laurel School. Is this a legitimate project, or is it a scam?
A: We have partnered with PCI (also known as Publishing Concepts) to produce our new alumnae directory. PCI is a company located in Dallas, TX, that publishes directories for educational institutions, fraternities, sororities and military organizations across the nation. This project allows Laurel School to receive important updates to our database so we know more about our alumnae and how we can better serve you.
Q: How do I know my information will only be used for Laurel Alumnae Directory purposes?
A: Laurel School has a contractual agreement with PCI that states: a. The names, addresses and information provided to PCI by Laurel School for the publication of the Directory will be held confidential by PCI, except to the extent that they are utilized in, or in the preparation of, the Directory and except as required by court order or law. b. The Directory will be made available only to alumnae of Laurel School. Upon completion of the project, PCI will return to Laurel School any and all electronic files that have been supplied by Laurel School or produced by PCI in connection with the production of the Directory.
Q: I would like to verify and update my information for the Laurel Alumnae Directory. How may I do this?
A: If you have received a postcard or an email with a telephone number, you may call the number to speak with a dedicated representative for the Laurel School project. The representative will verify all the information we have on file for you and make any updates where needed. If you have received an email with an embedded link, you may go to the online site to review your information. If you have questions, you may call PCI’s customer service desk at 1.800.395.4724.
Q: Can anyone purchase the Laurel Alumnae Directory?
A: The Laurel School Alumnae Directory is available for purchase only by Laurel School alumnae.
Q: When will I receive my Laurel Alumnae Directory?
A: The length of the directory project is about 12 months. We anticipate that the directories will be distributed in June of 2014.
Q: Can I choose some or all of my information not to be printed in the Laurel Alumnae Directory?
A: When you call to update your information, you can tell the representative what information you would prefer to have excluded. You also may communicate this information to the PCI customer service desk (1.800.395.4724).
Q: I ordered a directory/package over the phone and would like to cancel my order. How do I do this?
A: Call the PCI customer service help desk at 1.800.395.4724, and they will take care of this for you.
Q: I lost my class ring! Is it possible to get another one?
A: Yes! Our rings are still made by Jostens. Please email Rick Kraft for pricing and ordering instructions. rick.kraft@jostens.com. Jostens also offers polishing and resizing services.
Q: My question for the Laurel School Alumnae Office has not been answered here. Who can I contact about it?
A: Email Maegan Ruhlman, Alumnae Coordinator mRuhlman@LaurelSchool.org or call her in the Development Office at 216.464.8997 or 866.277.3182.
College Guidance - Applications
Q: How many applications should I submit?
A: There is no single answer to this question. The traditional wisdom is that every student should make application to schools which are probable to admit her, likely to admit her and a “reach” for her credentials. This formula is not exact and doesn’t account for uncertainties in preferences, ambiguities in a record, financial aid requirements or tolerance for risk. Your best strategy is to identify a range of schools at which you could be happy. The best advice is to work closely with the College Guidance Office and your advisor.
Q: Should I use the Common Application?
A: Absolutely. Over 250 colleges and universities have agreed to accept the Common Application, which is available and may be submitted on line at www.commonapp.org. Individual colleges retain the right, however, to require material in addition to that provided in the Common Application and care must be taken with each and every application to ensure the requirements of the particular college are met.
Q: If I apply Early Action or Early Decision do I have to submit any other applications?
A: Whether or not you will have to submit other applications, you should certainly prepare other applications. An analysis of the response and due dates makes it plain that if you wait to prepare your other applications until after receipt of an Early Action/Decision response, you will need to write 5,6,7 or more short and long essay responses in less than a week, which is not enough time to do a careful and thoughtful job. In addition, certain schools have shortened their application deadlines, now requiring application prior to the notification by the early responses. So, even if you are applying early, you will need to complete your other applications and watch the dates carefully.
Q: Do I need to attend a special camp or program during my summers to enhance my record?
A: You shouldn’t do anything, ever, just to enhance your record. That kind of “packaging” is inauthentic and often apparent to admissions officers. On the other hand, you should certainly do something worthwhile and stimulating during your summers. Follow your passions; explore your interests; hone your skills. There are many programs which encourage and develop intellectual or artistic skills; there are also many programs in leadership and cross-cultural experiences. A listing of many of these programs is available in the College Guidance Office. But you don’t need to attend an expensive program: volunteer in a veterinary office, work in a band camp, tutor at summer school. What matters is that you do something to expand and discover yourself.
Q: What can I do to increase my chances of success in admission to college?
A: Arrange for your teacher recommendations early; choose your colleges with care and after consultation with the College Guidance Office; track all deadlines; write a thoughtful, candid essay; proofread; arrange for interviews; submit your applications a month before the final deadline and turn your paperwork in to the College Guidance Office early enough that this can happen. Finally, keep up your academic work—those first semester grades count.
Q: I'm on the wait list for the school I really want to attend. What should I do?
A: Mail the postcard accepting the wait list immediately and write a letter expressing your strong commitment. Let the College Guidance Office know of your interest. Submit an additional letter of support; consider a second visit to the campus. Keep the college apprised of your grades, honors and activities. Remember that colleges generally start to look at their wait list in May and will continue to admit through August. Not all colleges rank their wait list; some will admit to fill openings in specific areas to diversify a class. The number admitted from the list depends upon the specific yield that year.
College Guidance - Financial Aid
Q: What forms do I need to fill out?
A: Almost all applications for financial aid require submission of the FAFSA. The FAFSA may not be submitted until January 1 but should be submitted as soon as possible after that date. To expedite the process, apply for the PIN required for electronic submission in the fall. The CSS/Profile has a registration fee and is only used by specified colleges. Before filling out the form, make sure it is required by the colleges your daughter is considering. Some colleges have their own institutional financial aid forms which must be completed. All due dates should be followed exactly.
Q: Can I get help filling out the FAFSA and CSS/ Profile?
A: Information about completing the FAFSA will be available at the CCIS workshop on December 5 at 7:00 p.m. This program is led by a counselor from The Cleveland Scholarship Programs, and this group is available to provide continuing advice. Support is also available on the FAFSA website or the federal hot line at (800)433-3243. Information on the CSS/Profile is available online at the College Board site.
Q: Using the same information, the colleges made different offers. Why?
A: Because of variations in cost of attendance, preferential packaging policies and calculation of demonstrated need, there can be significant differences in financial aid offered by different schools. Before accepting a financial aid package, ask if the student can expect comparable packages for all four years assuming family resources remain approximately the same.
Q: Given alternate, more generous financial aid offered at other colleges, will a school reconsider its package?
A: If the financial aid package at your daughter’s preferred school is less than at others, you can contact the financial aid office and ask why the calculation of need varies. Some schools will reconsider a financial aid package if you contact them personally. You should also make sure to advise the college financial aid office if there are unusual circumstances or changes in your family financial circumstance which might increase the student’s calculated need.
College Guidance - Testing
Q: Should I take an SAT prep course?
A: Students who familiarize themselves with the test format through practice materials are better able to attain scores that accurately reflect their school performance. Practice materials are available online, in books and in courses. The best choice among these resources is dependent upon the student’s learning style, discipline, time and finances. Certain students who have difficulty in a particular subject area may also benefit by tutoring. Students should consult with their teachers and The College Guidance Office with questions regarding their individual needs.
Q: Where can I find practice tests online?
A: Practice tests are available at many websites. Use the following links to find them at the Gocollege, ACT, and Peterson’s sites.
Q: Should I take both the SAT and the ACT?
A: Unless you are confident that your SAT scores fully reflect your achievement, you should take both tests. The ACT and SAT are not identical. The SAT focuses upon problem solving while the ACT is designed to test academic development and relies more upon the student’s knowledge of particular subject matters. Some students will perform better on one test than another and most colleges will now accept the ACT in place of SAT Reasoning.
Q: If I take the SAT or ACT more than once, which score will the colleges consider?
A: The answer varies depending upon the test. A student may not limit the SAT scores reported to colleges; the College Board will send all previous SAT and Subject Test scores for up to five test dates. Generally, admissions officers focus on an applicant’s best verbal and math SAT scores, even if they are achieved on different dates. Some colleges will average a student’s SAT scores. Students should not, however, take the test more than three times. The ACT will allow students to send scores from a particular date.
Q: When should I take the SAT Subject Tests?
A: As a general rule, Subject Tests should be taken immediately after completion of the relevant course. Three subject tests may be taken on the same date, but it is not advisable to schedule more than two. Students who anticipate applying first round Early Action or Early Decision should plan ahead, understanding that the October test administration is the last date which can be used for either the SAT I or Subject Tests to ensure timely submission of the scores.