Every application to private school goes through a thorough review process. The more competitive the school, the more exhaustive that review process becomes. So, the question we parents want answered is simply: how do we make sure our child's application gets to that final, all important "Approved" stack of folders. Put another way, how do we ensure that our child's application has legs? (Having legs is an expression which speaks to the endurance of whatever is supposed to have legs.) With respect to admissions applications the idea is to advance your child's application from one stage of the process to the next until finally you achieve a positive outcome. Here is what to do to ensure that your child's private school application has legs.
All required documentation has been submitted.
This sounds so simple, yet you would be amazed at how often an admissions application can founder right at the beginning of the review process. The staffer who reviews your child's application has a checklist of the required materials which must be in the folder. If something is missing, the folder goes into a stack for applications which have missing documents. It cannot normally advance to the next stage of the process for the reading and critical assessment of all those materials.
Note: each school has its own admissions procedures and protocols. The more competition there is for places at a given school, the less likely errors and omissions in admissions applications will be tolerated, if indeed they are tolerated at all.
Submit your completed application early. That applies both to online and paper applications. Murphy's Law will get you every time when you wait until the last minute to click the Submit button for an online application. At that exact moment your system will freeze or your connection will drop. Count on it. Start several months before the applications deadline - assuming there is one - with the teacher and principal recommendations. Give those to the appropriate teachers together with stamps on the envelopes which will be used to mail those recommendations back to the school.
The application exhibits strong academic qualifications.
Assuming that your application was submitted on time and with nothing missing, the next step is the reading of the file. Admissions staffers are an experienced lot. They know what they want to see in an application. Make sure that they see lots of what they are looking for.
Your application will have legs when it has test scores within the parameters the school has set. (Your educational consultant will be able to help you with this and lots of other questions.)
Strong transcripts from your child's previous school should provide evidence that your child is prepared to undertake the academic workload which the school has scheduled. If there are deficiencies - no child is perfect, after all - it should be clear elsewhere in the application that you are aware of the deficiencies and have taken the appropriate steps to re-mediate those deficiencies.
Your application will have legs when it documents and supports your child's abilities. If your child is a super hockey player, make sure that you have the statistics and testimonials to support that claim. Assume nothing.
The application contains strong teacher and principal recommendations.
Most of the teacher recommendations which I had to write over the years were strong ones. The admissions staff can tell the difference between an enthusiastic recommendation and one which is bland and doesn't say very much about the applicant. Remember: you will never know what a teacher has written when she writes a recommendation. Neither may you ask. Weak teacher recommendations will cripple an application's legs in a nano-second. Schools value the judgement of their peers. This part of the application is very important.
The application has a high enthusiasm quotient.
Your application demonstrates that your child is eager to participate in class, on the sports field and in extracurricular activities. Document and support those claims with lists of achievements and participation in team and group activities. The energy and enthusiasm behind these achievements demonstrates a high enthusiasm quotient.
You are prepared to be a partner with the school in your child's education.
Private schools pride themselves on creating that wonderful three member partnership of the school, parent and child. Make sure your Parents' Statement addresses that issue enthusiastically and sincerely. You have supported your child's education by creating a stable home which encourages responsibility and accountability. You consistently provide the enrichment your child needs in order to develop her natural love of learning.
Does your child's application have legs? If you follow these suggestions, chances are it will.