The Admission Process
Our Application Calendar will keep you organized throughout the stressful process of applying to private school. There's a lot to keep track of. So plan your work carefully and try to stick to the schedule. Ideally you out to start the process at least 18 months before the expected date of starting school. For example, for fall 2012 admissions, you need to begin in the spring of 2011. If you are an international student, you need to allow an additional 6 months because there are some additional steps which you need to follow.
Applying to any private school is just that: an application. The school is under no obligation to accept your child. You also need to be aware that places in schools in certain metropolitan areas are very limited. Enhance your prospects by avoiding common admissions mistakes. What if they waitlist your child? Is that the end of the world? Not exactly. What if you start the process late for some very good reason such as a job relocation and miss the deadlines, does it matter? It depends.
The most important thing to understand about the admissions process is that it allows you and the school to size each other up. Your admissions profile tells a story about you and your accomplishments. The school visit gives you a chance to scope out the school and see what it is really like.
One of the requirements of most private schools, certainly at the high school level, is for your child to take a standardized admissions test. The SSAT and ISEE are the most commonly used tests. The reason the schools use these tests is to level the playing field as it were. The admissions staff can see how each applicant compares to the others based on the same test. If your child has known issues with any core academic subject such as math or reading comprehension, you might want to think about getting a tutor to give some extra help. Don't leave this until the last minute.
Test preparation is absolutely necessary. Sign your child up for the online practice tests and/or buy the test preparation books available for the SSAT and ISEE. That way, your child will be relaxed and confident on the day of the test. He will have been there and done that.
If you are an international student, remember that you will need to prepare for the TOEFL test as well.
The Visit and the Interview
You really need to visit each of the schools on your short list. Yes, the video tours and Skype visits with the admissions people are wonderful, but you need to see the school as it actually is. Experience a class. Do an overnight if possible.
If you do indeed live overseas, many private schools will send admissions staff abroad in the fall. Contact the school to find out when someone will be in your area.
While being interviewed, remember to play your cards carefully. The school is looking you over but, more importantly, you are looking it over. Keep your cool.
The formal application is something which most private schools have made much easier by putting most of the process online. But there's a lot of forms to fill out. You need to do this before the school's deadlines. Don't assume that because School A has a deadline of January 31 that School B will have the same deadline.
Complete personal documentation such as the Parent's Statement yourself. Don't have an assistant do it. The school wants to understand what your thoughts are in your own words. Same thing with your child's statement also known as The Candidate's Statement. Let your child write it unaided. Resist the temptation to review what she says.
Teacher Recommendations and Transcripts are a critical part of any application. Again, don't leave these to the last minute.