In India, we have lots of good schools. The problem is getting to the right one in the right location. Ask any parent and they will tell you their adventurous stories of how they navigated through the chaotic processes of getting their kid admitted to the school of their choice.
Like any other established institutions in India, the Schools follow a rather bureaucratic and pain-in-the-rear approach to new admissions. Admission time is also the time when everyone involved with the schools is at their bossy-best, willing to dust off all their ranks and files to show-off “who they are and what they can do.”
Anyway, without going into the details of the discrepancies in the schools in India, let me tell you the story of how I used technology to streamline my daughter’s admission. I wanted to involve relatives, friends, and family without overwhelming them, so I needed a solution that is an easy, simple, and no-learning-needed approach to keep track of the progress.
Yes, I went to lots of ‘Education Fair’, stood in lines for hours in the hot Indian Summer, visited a hell lot of schools to check them out, met with teachers, roam around the campus, even talked to few students. Besides that, I tracked, labeled, and measured my actions and outcomes with Trello and mapped the locations with Google Maps. The mobile version of Trello (iOS and Android) is an awesome app and everyone involved really liked it.
My daughter outgrew her playgroup.
My daughter, Laaija, celebrated her 4th birthday on Dec 11, 2012. She is now ready for a ‘real’ school. She has already outlined the kind of school she would like to go to. It is a list of strange, funny, and cute (at least to us) criteria and we know what she meant. No, you won’t want to know that list.
Last October, I had initialized the quest for her school. We wanted a good established one and not necessarily some fancy ‘international’ school (without explicitly excluding them), should not be very far from our residence. I should be able to get there within 30 minutes in the typical Bangalore Traffic. It should also not be next-door so she can learn to be independent, travel, and enjoy her school.
Trello, Trello & Trello
I treated it like a Project – steps, processes, labels, issues – a flow borrowed from the Kanban Method, which Trello is very good at.
I created 6 core boards:
- Inbox – Everything is dropped here first – school names, location on Google maps, notes on people’s review, facilities and amenities available etc.
- Considered – All schools which we considered applying were dragged into the “Considered” Board. We try to add as many details as possible here.
- Applied – This is the board for all schools where we applied for our daughter’s admission.
- Accepted – Schools which have accepted us. It’s now our decision to pick the school, to get admitted or not.
- Rejected by Us – The schools rejected by us irrespective of the selection of the schools. The Cards in this List can come from “Inbox”, “Applied” or “Accepted”. It’s not surprising that this List holds the most number of Cards.
- Rejected by School – Of course, quite a few of the schools rejected our application. This List holds all those cards.
I used a few simple labels to help with the choices. A card can have one or many of these labels. The labels were
- Transport (yes)
I invited a few of our relatives, friends, and family members to this Board. They were told to install the Trello Smartphone apps, so they can do it easily on their phones and not worry about being totally involved.
The idea is to take notes and just write-down details while visiting a School or just seeing one while I travel around Bangalore, made it easy to sort them, work on them later. Writing down helps me free up my brain to concentrate on my work and not worry about my daughter’s admission all the time. The same goes for my wife, relatives, friends, and other family members to help us, without the need to indulge in useless talks, gossips, and lousy phone calls.
Yes, I finally got my daughter admitted a few days back and she is excited about her new school. We hope she will like it and have fun with her new school.
I created a Public Template of the Trello Board if you wish to use it – Picking a School (India). You should change the List Names, Labels to cater to your requirements.
Besides the activities that I cannot ignore, Trello really helped me get our daughter admitted and freed up quite a bit of my effort, time and I was able to continue my work while I stay engaged with the Admission Process.
It will be incomplete for this article if I do not include the story of the ‘interview’ which got my daughter selected. We were invited to meet the Head of Department (HOD) aka Principal of the School. She talked and got my daughter comfortable, after which she asked her questions including the likes of Apple’s color, the monkey’s favorite fruit. She was a bit concerned about my daughter’s inability to count numbers. The last question she asked my daughter was to use the crayons and draw a circle. That’s easy as Laaija is very good at drawing. She drew a circle. The Principal told her, it was awesome and finally asked her if she can draw a Balloon.
At that moment, I thought my daughter was doing pretty well and we’re pretty close to finishing this event. My wife told me later that, Laaija will now draw a balloon easily. The cool part was, instead of drawing a separate balloon, she just added the thread to the previously drawn circle and made it into a balloon. My wife and I were surprised and I’m pretty sure, if anything, that was the one that sealed the deal. :-)