Min Kim has her hands full these days since launching the College Advisory service, Versed. She takes some time off from her busy schedule to sit down with Suburbs 101 to talk about her move from NYC to Greenwich, CT.
Tell me about your journey to the suburbs?
We moved to Greenwich from Manhattan just before we had our second child. We definitely wanted more space for our growing family and were looking for a town with good public schools. After looking at homes in Brooklyn and Westchester, we settled on Greenwich. Greenwich is a beautiful town with great schools, amazing parks and beaches, good restaurants, and plenty of cultural activities – in short, someone from the city will not miss the city too much while getting to enjoy nature and outdoor activities.
What part of Greenwich did you move to?
We live in Cos Cob. We considered many different parts of Greenwich but chose Cos Cob because of the house that we ended up falling in love with, but also because of the location. It is very convenient to everything. 10 min drive will get you to most places in Greenwich and Stamford. We love that our backyard connects to Montgomery Pinetum Park, which is a beautiful park with hiking trails, ponds, and a garden center. One of the most peaceful places to go for walks.
How old are your kids? What do you like to do with them in Greenwich or in the area?
I have three kids – 11, 8, and 6 years old. There are so many great things you can do with young kids in the area – Stepping Stone Museum, Norwalk Aquarium, Bruce Park, and Stamford Nature Center. Now that the kids are a bit older, we are really enjoying simpler family activities such as walking and biking along Old Stone Bridge Road (our favorite road!), hiking in Montgomery Pinetum, sledding in our backyard, and of course spending lazy summer days at Tod’s Point beach. Greenwich also has an incredible library that we spend a lot of time at. We hardly ever purchase books, as it is rare that we cannot find a book we want to read there.
What are the best playgrounds and parks in the area?
We spend a lot of time at Bruce Park playground. We also love the playgrounds at the Cos Cob School and the Stillmeadow Elementary school in Stamford. The public school playgrounds are open to the public on weekends and
What are your favorite restaurants in Greenwich or in the area? Date night? Kid Friendly?
My kids love Pizza Post, Mumbai Times, Boxcar Cantina, and Famous Greek Kitchen in Greenwich, Bar Taco in Port Chester, and City Limits
When you moved to Greenwich, did you know anyone? Any tips/advice you can give to newcomers on how to meet people?
We moved here not knowing many people at all, but over time we met a lot of really nice families through our children’s schools and activities, reconnecting with classmates and friends of friends, and getting involved in various activities. Greenwich is a big town, and you are bound to run into people you know.
Can you describe your social life?
We enjoy getting together with friends at home, and also exploring restaurants around town. My husband and I are big fans of theater and live music so we do seek out many of the live event venues here including Westport Playhouse, Stamford Palace Theater, and Capitol Theater in Port Chester. We, of course, still go into the city to catch concerts and shows and see friends.
What are some things you don’t like about Greenwich?
The only complaint I have is the dearth of good Asian restaurants. I did find Mecha Noodles in Norwalk which has become one of our favorites, but be sure to get there at an off hour as the lines are always long!
Are you a member of a country club/beach club/yacht club?
We joined the Roxbury Club in Stamford, as we wanted a place where our kids can swim in the summer. It is a wonderful, down-to-earth club, with great aquatics and tennis programs for the kids (and adults as well). My daughter started diving there, which she loves, and our boys take tennis lessons and participate in the swim team. Their swimming, diving, and water polo teams are some of the best teams in town.
What has your experience been so far with schools in Greenwich?
My two oldest children attended Putnam Indian Field School, which is a lovely preschool with wonderful teachers and families. I remember looking at the pictures on their website when we were still living in the city and thinking, what a paradise this would be for little kids – they have a beautiful facility and wonderful programs. My children loved their Smokey’s program with an emphasis on the outdoors and being with nature.
My youngest attended the preschool at the public elementary school (to simplify logistics with 3 kids!) and had a great experience there. Placement in public preschool is through a lottery, as it is a top-notch program with highly trained teachers and staff. They now all attend public middle and elementary schools. We have had a great experience with the Greenwich public schools as they have wonderful teachers and families that really care about the community and children’s well-being.
Do you or your spouse take the train into
the city? What has your experience been with the commute?
My husband commutes into the city and found it to be quite easy. He is on the train for about 50 minutes and gets a lot of work done on the train. Getting the annual parking permit at the Cos Cob station didn’t take too long – about 4 months. There is a daily parking lot nearby which is always available.
Any advice you can give to someone who is looking to move to Greenwich?
Because Greenwich is large, and there are many neighborhoods within it with different characteristics, prioritize what is most important to you and figure out the neighborhood that is right for your family. For example, if you want to be in a neighborhood where all the kids walk to school, you would pick a different neighborhood than if your priority is to have a lot of space, with a big home and large backyard. Talk to a lot of people living here to get a better sense of why they chose a certain neighborhood over others.
You are the founder of Versed. Tell me more about it.
Versed is a unique college admissions & pre-college education planning service that match parents with experienced Parent Advisors who have targeted knowledge on specific academic tracks, extracurricular fields, colleges, application process as well as a variety of special situations including learning differences, skipping grades, homeschooling, etc. Many parents of high school students work with our advisors to get advice on navigating the college admission process. But most parents, including parents of middle and elementary school students, work with us to find the best resources available to support their children in every aspect of their educational journey.
As parents, we have so many questions about how we can provide the best opportunities for our children. What’s comforting is that many other parents have gone through the same process, and only if we can transfer the wisdom and the knowledge of these parents to others in an efficient way so that we are not recreating the wheel every time. Versed was born out of that need with a mission to make the wisdom and knowledge of these parents that have been through the process available to all. We have assembled an incredible group of Parent Advisors with great kids in all of the top colleges in the US who are available to provide advice and resources. Versed helps match each parent with the Advisor that is right for the family.
What is the most challenging thing about launching Versed?
We live in a world where we have too much information. Especially when it comes to finding quality information and advice on education for our children, we are often at a loss as to where to begin – especially in light of the fact that every family and every child is different. Versed is addressing this issue by enabling parents to find Advisors that are right for their needs. The match is very important. As we want every parent to have a good experience and gain useful information and knowledge from every exchange, we work very hard to ensure that we are recruiting the right advisors and that we understand the needs of our parent clients. It’s a challenge but it’s also the purpose/mission of our company. Mission-driven companies are not trying to solve easy problems!
Any tips/advice you can give to families going through the college application process?
1) Start early – plan ahead so that the students avoid being in a crunch during junior and senior years having to juggle every standardized exam, trying to figure out extracurricular activities, making college visits, and trying to raise grades during the most critical years. Becoming informed early will help each student plan better, focus on the most critical things, and have more time to devote to the process so that each student is making the best-informed decision and ultimately reduce stress.
2) Help your children figure out what their interests and passions are. The most successful students are the ones that have a good sense of what they like, are interested in, and pursue their academic and extracurricular interests with a purpose, rather than just do well.
3) Get advice from parents of older children that have been through the process. Why recreate the wheel when there are so many parents with a wealth of experience and knowledge that can help you? Just reach out.
About Min Kim
Min Kim is the Founder and CEO of Versed (www.askversed.com), an education technology company revolutionizing the way parents access valuable insights into education. She is an investor and e
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