Empowering every student to thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answering the FAQ’s surrounding finding your family’s school home.

6-12 School Placement


How do we know if we need an educational consultant?

Atlanta’s private and public school landscape is changing and evolving. With the constant renovations of problem-based learning, academic rigor, and extracurricular options, the opportunity for success grows—but so does the complexity.  That’s where we come in. An initial consultation allows us to understand your student's needs and goals, guide your family in the search for an educational environment that best suits your child, and coach your family through the entire school selection process so you make the most informed decision. 

It has become more evident that education has changed a lot since parents were in school and, for good reason, families want to become more informed about their private, public, and charter options. It’s no longer “one size fits all” when it comes to schools. In fact, it’s becoming more and more common to send different children to different schools—within the same household. This is a testament to the realization that each child learns differently and our city’s ever-changing educational landscape is better equipped to support that—than say, 20 or 30 years ago when parents themselves were in school.

We aim to be a conversation partner with families as they navigate next steps for their learner(s).We “pay attention to the tension” in conversations with families to equip parents to make the most informed decision. We’re honored to be a part of your child’s advocacy team—and help your child win the day. You can read more about how we come alongside families here.


There are a lot of education consultants in Atlanta. How is Whitehead Learning Group different?

Atlanta is gifted with a variety of education professionals and leaders. Yet, we believe we offer tangible resources on top of private school insight and academic expertise. Our program steps from the goal of being a genuine conversation partner with families—as they make arguably life’s second greatest investment (the average cost of K-12 private school education in Atlanta was $280,000 in 2018). Just as we’re equipping students with the tools they need to feel empowered in their learning, we aim to empower parents with the strategies to make an informed decision when it comes to selecting a school home.

We know that “going to school” looks a lot different than it did even a couple of decades ago. Choosing a school home means deciding which teaching staff is going to be on your child’s advocacy team, helping him or her from the foundations of phonics and number sense to writing research papers and carrying out science experiments. A school home means trusting your child with extracurricular outlets and ways to get involved that may ignite passions that you don’t even know about yet. A school home offers athletic opportunities and for some students, the initial exposure to a brand new sport. A school home could mean domestic and international travel and experiences to create friendship bonds—some even lifelong. "Going to school” isn’t a checkmark in childhood—it’s a home for your family.

Yet, heartbreakingly, this isn’t always every family’s—or student’s—experience. We have heard stories of heartbreak, failure, rejection, and low self-esteem more times than we can count. This is why we don’t treat this school search process as a “bandaid” or even a “quick fix” solution to get into School X. If that’s the goal of your family, we are frankly not your educational consulting firm. At the core of everything we do, we believe in a strengths-based approach within all facets of genuine learning. We’re going to help students identify what’s strong—not what’s wrong. By putting context around their intrinsic strengths, passions, gifts, and learning preferences, we can then hone in on the best learning environments where they will thrive, identify and implement the most effective study methods, and pinpoint course selections and potential interest areas (extracurricular or career-oriented) to help them leverage their educational journey—at whatever point our paths cross. This framework will hopefully make our firm one day superfluous—but we believe so much that the success of true leadership is succession.

So, on top of placing schools into their dream schools where they will thrive, we want to equip students with the Competence, Course, Clarity, Coaching, and Character to make a lasting, authentic, positive impact on our world. Simply put, we believe in empowering students with the tools they need to thrive—in the classroom and beyond. To that end, we are also thrilled to partner with our charity organization, Thrive Global Project, to grant access to quality education for vulnerable children around the world to permanently break the cycle of poverty. You can read more about our mission here.


Atlanta’s private and public school landscape is changing and evolving. With the constant renovations of problem-based learning, academic rigor, and extracurricular options, the opportunity for success grows—but so does the complexity.  That’s where we come in. An initial consultation allows us to understand your student's needs and goals, guide your family in the search for an educational environment that best suits your child, and coach your family through the entire school selection process so you make the most informed decision. 

It has become more evident that education has changed a lot since parents were in school and, for good reason, families want to become more informed about their private, public, and charter options. It’s no longer “one size fits all” when it comes to schools. In fact, it’s becoming more and more common to send different children to different schools—within the same household. This is a testament to the realization that each child learns differently and our city’s ever-changing educational landscape is better equipped to support that—than say, 20 or 30 years ago when parents themselves were in school.

How would Whitehead Learning Group come alongside and help us in the school placement journey?


Welcome to Atlanta! We understand that moving, by definition, is stressful. Whether you’re moving from across town or across the country (or even the world!), we want to make your transition process as stress-free at possible. Satisfied clients tell us time and time again how our referral network helped make lasting connections—even before they officially became Atlantans! From reputable therapists, learning specialists, and tutors to life coaches, babysitters, and even realtors, we provide your family with a Welcome to Atlanta packet that aims to make the moving process just a little easier.  

We’re moving to Atlanta. Can you help remotely before we officially make the move?


What’s the best school for my child?

We get this question a lot. Truth is, your family’s definition of “best” may be different than another family’s interpretation. The “best” school should always, always mean the “best fit” for your child’s academic, emotional, and social development. Remember that rankings and data don’t predict how your child will fare at that school—just because a school is ranked 10/10 does not ascertain that your child’s experience will be 10/10. You can read more about understanding school rankings—including data to skiphere.

To that end, we are opposed to ranking independent schools in any design. ALL 70+ AAAIS schools are phenomenal learning institutions—in their own way. The beauty (and apprehension) that comes with Atlanta’s ever-changing school landscape is its diverse member schools. Just as it would be impossible to rank children in a family, we believe that each school is the “best” school if it meets its own objectives and if the curricula, culture, and experience serves your child and family in the best way possible.

Therefore, it’s important to use that “best fit” filter when researching schools. To start, it’s valuable to understand your options—public, private, and charter schools. Schools, by virtue of governance, determine their own unique missions, ethos, learning objectives, curriculum, emphasis, and culture. That’s why we recommend families understand their own missions, ethos, learning objectives, emphasis, and culture prior to touring schools. After this initial research, we encourage families to visit several schools to talk with faculty and staff and to see where your mission and the school’s mission may overlap.


When should I start touring schools?

If your student is approaching an educational milestone, it’s typical for families to consider their options. For example, in this natural next step, would it also warrant a change in the educational landscape? Maybe you will have a rising kindergartener (cue the tears!), or a free-thinking, quasi-independent middle-schooler on your hands (parents, are you ready?!). Or maybe your high schooler has begun the preliminary college search, but you know it’s time to get serious about next steps and strategies. If you’re thinking of moving anywhere within the Greater Atlanta Area or even to the city, it would be meaningful to do some research. Even if your child is not at a “natural” entry point (K, 6th, 7th, 9th grades—depending upon the school), understanding “comps” in the area is beneficial.

For tips on what to look for on school tours (and how to keep up with the nuances of each campus), check out our guide here.


Do we need to worry about the SSAT? What is it exactly? Do all schools require it?

If you have kiddos in the 6th-12th grade, the SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test) should be on your radar. While the majority of independent schools DO require this form of standardized testing (it’s a way to “level the playing field” of applicants), some do not—so be sure to check specifics. It’s important to understand the format and scoring of the test itself as the exam, by design, is unlike an assessment your child has likely seen before. Check out more tips here about scoring, registration, and how/why it matters in your child’s application portfolio.


My friends keep talking about the JATP. Do we need to worry about that? What is it?

If you have K-5 kiddos, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard this little abbreviation tossed around mom groups, preschool classrooms, and play dates—the JATP. AAAIS (Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools) has partnered with member Atlanta-based psychologists to streamline the admissions process as best they can--by establishing a Joint Admissions Testing Program (JATP) for applicants in grades K-5. This evaluation meets the testing requirements of JATP member schools and can only be administered once per twelve months. For details about cost, registration, understanding the score report, preparation strategies, and member schools, read more here.


What’s Ravenna? Do I need to make a profile?

Ahh, Ravenna! The universal “Common App” for independent schools. Newly adopted by Atlanta independent and private PS-12 schools, the majority of admissions teams require that prospective families utilize this platform to keep track of household information, child academic history, and other personal data to submit with your application. Ravenna isn’t something to be scared of—in fact, you can make the portal work for you. Check out our tips and tricks for building a personal account, what step you shouldn’t skip, and how you can leverage Ravenna to keep you organized during the school tour adventure.


One of many factors, class size is a facet to consider when evaluating a school. How much attention do students receive? Are there options for small-group or individualized instruction (this is especially important in lower school)? But, how can you review class size within the lens of assessing a school’s efficacy? For example, did you know that class size and student-teacher ratio aren’t synonymous? In your school research, if data shows an unusually high student-teacher ratio, don’t be hesitant to clarify with the admissions team to find out why.

What’s the deal with class size? Just how important is it?


Some schools request that we send in a student portfolio? What types of assignments or pieces of work do schools want to see?

Think of a student work portfolio as a visual “resume” that speaks to your child’s academic journey up to this point. While each school wants to see specific assignments or work samples that align with their mission or emphasis (WLG can help you navigate this!), there are some universal strategies to keep in mind as you cull through your student’s take-home work file box. While the quantity of samples can also vary from school to school, aim to collect 3-5 samples to add to your child’s application packet. First off, try to select work samples that emphasize your child’s curiosity. Have a research project that investigates, examines, analyzes, or compares? Throw that in the mix. Next, choose some returned assignments that illustrate your student’s creativity. Was there an assignment where your child thought outside of the box and/or beyond status quo? Think science fair projects, anything problem- or project-based, a culmination of learning that shows innovation, design thinking, or individual originality and imagination. Finally, schools want to see work examples that demonstrate your student’s enthusiasm for learning. Be it a passion project, a student-selected and directed research piece, or something that “fires” your child up, this is important to add to the file. Most schools also request that applicants send over a writing sample. While they’re going to analyze your student’s writing based on grade level preparedness, content, purpose, and delivery also reign supreme so keep those in mind when you’re selecting an essay. 


Help! My student needs to interview as a part of his/her admissions process?! What do we need to know?

A stellar transcript, a top-notch application, excellent SSAT scores, a dynamic essay—and now, just one more hurdle to jump: The admissions interview. On average, this evaluation is an opportunity for admissions teams to weed through the data and get to know your child’s unique gifts, strengths, passions, talents, and interests—in 30-60 minutes (dependent upon grade level). It’s important to know just what private school admissions teams are looking for? In middle and upper school interviews especially, resilience and empathy—proven predictors of academic achievement, collaboration, innovation, and problem solving—rein supreme. Here are some strategies to best help your student convey all of that—in just half an hour.


Most schools will invite prospective students onto campus to experience a “normal” day of school culture, expectations, classroom structure, and more. While we can help you know what to expect on a case-by-case basis with each school, we want to share some universal tips that can help prepare your student for their day of fun! Admissions teams will rely on feedback from teachers who had direct contact with your child to provide insight. In my teaching days, I filled out many forms like these! Feedback requested always included insight as to how prospective students got along socially with peers, followed directions, took initiative in learning tasks, “fit in” overall with classmates, took risks in their own learning, and were respectful and abided by classroom expectations and school protocol. For specific strategies organized by age (lower, middle, and upper), read more here.

What’s Observation Day all about? What are admissions teams really looking for on these visits?


Best tips for a college interview?

With the wave of Regular Decision college applications in full force, some schools will reach out to applicants requesting more “face time,” generally in the form of an interview. These can take place face-to-face over a vanilla latte or depending on scheduling, can be carved out over the phone. You’re so close to the finish line so treat this next step in the process with as much effort and intentionality as you’ve handled the entire process up to this point. 

Before your interview, research as much about the school as possible. Narrow your research on why the school is a good match for you and your interests. You should have done a good amount of research before you decided to apply, so hopefully, this shouldn’t take much time. Your research before an interview should be mostly review and focusing on specifics about how the school fits your needs.  Avoid questions that can be answered via a simple school website search. Instead, opt for research-based questions.  We list 10 questions to keep in mind here