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Private school admissions season is here, and there are numerous questions that swarm in the minds of parents looking to make that leap: curriculum, tuition costs, available extracurricular activities, student-teacher ratio.


One of the most important things you can do to help your family make the right decision is allowing your child to participate in a shadow day program. Mrs. Kari Alderman, Mount de Sales Academy middle school head, always says that you cannot fake school culture! Your student can explore campus, seeing the classroom dynamic, eating lunch in the cafeteria, playing outside, interacting with faculty members, participating in lectures and discussions, meeting new friends—the opportunities are endless to learn more about your school of choice. Brochures, magazines, and websites are full of information, but to get a real sense of school community, students need to experience first-hand what it would be like to be a student every day.

MDS 6th grader, Brooke Harwood, said she felt welcome right away on her shadow day as a 5th grader.

“People were greeting me at the door…and included me and made me feel like I was a part of the school. It was a great experience.”

Brooke also said to make sure to shadow “on a fun day, like a pep rally or Homecoming.” Students who have shadowed before attending a new school feel more a part of the school community, there is less fear of the unknown, they instantly recognize faces and students they have already met, and they trust their new experience.


  • Available times – do students shadow for a full school day, or can a half day be arranged so less class is missed at the student’s current school?
  • What to wear – school uniform, casual, is there a dress code? Sporting the school’s spirit wear is always a good idea!
  • Arrival and departure – Do parents drop their children off at carpool, or is it preferred that families walk their children into the school building?
  • Eating lunch – Is lunch provided or will your child need to bring their own lunch from home?
  • Classroom experience – How many other students will be shadowing at the same time? Will the classrooms be overcrowded, or will your child have a very personal experience?
  • Shadow day activities – What activities will be taking place that day? You do not want to shadow when there are several tests scheduled, but it would be fun to attend a pep rally or musical performance!
  • Host student – Can you request a host for your student, or does the school make those selections? Keep in mind, though it is always fun to be paired with a friend, you want to make sure your child really experiences life at the new school, which includes meeting new friends!
  • Parent tours – Are there opportunities for parents to have a tour or introduction to the school while your child is shadowing?
  • Scheduling – Schedule your shadow day at least a week in advance. Some schools have set shadow days, so keep that in mind when you are planning your family’s calendar.


Discover why it’s great to be a Cavalier during one of Mount de Sales Academy’s spring semester shadow days:

  • January 24
  • February 14
  • March 14
  • April 11
  • May 9

Prospective family tours are held every Tuesday at 9:00 am.

Call the admissions office for more details at (478) 751-3244.

We hope to see  you soon!

By Ashley Griffin, MDS Director of Admissions