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12 Ways Private Schools are Running Virtual Shadow Days
Claire Hollowell

With many schools still operating from afar or in a transition phase, you’re likely in the midst of deciding how you’ll run shadow days at your school. 

You may not be able to offer shadow day experiences in person, and even if you can- you may still opt for a virtual option for families who aren’t yet comfortable with returning to campus.

Regardless of what situation your school is in, giving your families the opportunity to see more of your school, get to know faculty, attend a class or two, and have a more individualized and personal experience with a student at your school is something you can’t skip. 

But with so much to adapt, it can be hard to know where to start. Learning from other schools and seeing what they’re doing can help you craft the best virtual shadow day experience for your students and a shadow day that fits the goals of your school. 

We compiled a list to give you some ideas and help you get your creative juices flowing. Here are twelve ways private schools are running their virtual shadow days.

12 Examples of Virtual Shadow Days + Ideas to Use

1. St. John Vianney High School

St. John Vianney High

Increase the number of attendees and participants in your shadow days by making them accessible to all. Include a video from your head of school or director of admissions to begin as an introduction, and videos and images of your campus and activities so families get a taste of your school. You can even share a student ambassador led tour. Plus, organizing everything in a PowerPoint presentation makes it easy for families to navigate to each part of the shadow day. 

2. St. Francis High School

St. Francis High

Including a schedule for your shadow day can help students better understand what a day at your school might look or feel like. St. Francis High School also provides public access to videos created by current students explaining more about the classes which adds a personal touch and provides student’s genuine perspectives on the courses offered. Additionally, with so many options available, families can get a taste of all of the classes rather than having to pick only one or two.

3. Phillips Academy- Andover

Phillips Academy Andover

Have some fun with your virtual events and offer multiple opportunities to connect like Andover does with their weekly tours. Every Wednesday throughout the summer they’re offering virtual tours. They also created a fun way for families to connect with the admission department via Zoom. Their “Zoomin with Shuman” chats are offered every Tuesday and Thursday. Offering multiple days and times to attend an event will ensure every family gets to see more of your school, regardless of their schedule.

4. De Smet Jesuit High School

De Smet Jesuit High

Designating a full page to recreate a typical shadow day experience is one way to provide families with a memorable shadow day. You can even ditch the traditional shadow day model and opt for live Q&A sessions, showing what students do in a day via images and videos instead of setting up students one on one. De Smet Jesuit High School shows families a day in the life of a student with images ordered by time of day to mimic a school day. Feature different classes and teachers with fun explanations to pique families interest and give them options of which classes to attend. That way they can go to as many as they want. You can also include information about your admissions team and other resources for families to browse.  

5. Flint Hill School

Flint Hill School

If you have no upcoming virtual shadow days planned on the calendar yet, but have plenty of webinar or past event recordings, you can create a page for virtual events so parents can go to one centralized location and find what they need. Include recordings of past preview days or shadow days so families can still see what a normal shadow day looks like. You can even separate them by grade level so families can watch what’s most relevant to them. 

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6. The Putney School

Putney School

Putney School created a “virtual visit page” on their website that is easy to navigate to. The page shares several videos in an order that mimics a visit or shadow day including a welcome from the Head of School, campus tour, class visits, student-led discussions to listen to, and videos about extracurricular activities. You likely already have a lot of videos that tell the story of your school, put them all in one place and organize them in a sequential way to re-create the shadow day experience. You can also include a blurb above each video that creates a more cohesive story and experience for families.

7. Far Brook School

Far Brook School

Far Brook School has a page for virtual admissions where they accept tour requests, share a campus video, and provide several testimonials from parents, students, and faculty. Including videos from those who know your school the best is a great way for families to hear what people love about your school from a different perspective. Social proof goes a long way in helping prospective families begin to envision themselves at your school. 

8. Pulaski Academy 

Pulaski Academy

Pulaski Academy created a clear, concise, and informative virtual admissions center to help guide future students in their school search and decision. The hub is accessible from the home page and drop-down menu on their sidebar making it easy to find. You can register for a campus tour, virtual open house, live thesis defense class series, schedule a zoom call with someone on the admissions team, or watch a webinar on-demand. All of the elements included in their virtual admission center recreate the elements included in an in-person shadow day. 

9. Eastern Christian School 

Eastern Christian School

You can also require a more formal submission to attend a virtual shadow day like Eastern Christian School does by including a form on your website. This approach may help you better tailor the shadow day to suit a particular student’s interests. However, it does require more planning as you’ll need to create a personalized experience for each registrant. Additionally, this school is choosing to hold off on shadow days and will notify families who requested one once they are able to be back on campus. 

10. Our Lady of Mercy Academy

Our Lady of Mercy

Our Lady of Mercy Academy offers a personalized informational session for families while off-campus. They also plan to offer virtual shadow days once they’re able to be back on campus. Having both options may allow you to satisfy some families’ needs virtually and give other families the in-person experience they might be holding out for. 

11. Dublin School

Dublin School

Dublin School created a page with a personal note at the top welcoming families to enjoy the content below in a friendly, on-brand tone. They gathered together videos of classes, morning meetings, sports, the arts, various class trips, and a testimonial style video. Giving families tons of digestible content makes it easy for them to experience your school even if they only have a few minutes to spare at a time. 

12. Mount Carmel High School 

Mount Carmel High

If you’re able to have visitors on campus, some of your families may still prefer to have their shadow day experience from afar. By offering both options you can accommodate for everyone’s needs. You can also inform families about what they can expect at an online or virtual shadow day. For example, this school clearly tells families that this will be a Zoom video conference with a member of the admissions team and a student at the school. Letting families know what to expect before the event can help you mesh expectations. 

Ready to Plan Your Next Shadow Day? 

Remember, regardless of what you decide to do for your virtual shadow days, make sure you inform your families of your decision and offer additional resources to help them in their decision-making process. Virtual admission events are an essential part of your virtual admissions process. Clearly displaying your virtual shadow day options will help them prepare and plan for the year ahead or encourage them to reach out with any further questions.

If you’re worried about the burden of planning another online event, be encouraged that you likely already have most of the resources you need to put together a virtual shadow day. You can always collect pictures and videos of your campus and campus activities, gather a few videos from students, and offer access to a recorded class session. Plus, you can add more resources as you go. Your goal is to help your families envision themselves at your school. You want them to feel like they are part of your community. You want them to get excited about what this year has in store.

You’ve got this! It’s time to start crafting an unforgettable virtual shadow day experience at your school. 

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