If you are good at organizing projects, the challenges involved in getting your child into private school will not seem especially daunting. The timeline for the process has some sections which are rather elastic. They can take a lot of time or can be foreshortened depending on your requirements. For example, if you already have a pretty good idea of what kind of school you want, you will save time. Ditto if you actually have identified a couple of specific schools.
Let's look at five of the challenges facing you.
Choosing the right school
This is probably the most time-consuming challenge. It can be as easy as cruising the Web and identifying three to five schools right out of the gate. This is most likely to happen when you have decided that your child will attend one of the local day schools in your community.
But if you are thinking about boarding school, the choices multiply almost exponentially. There are hundreds of schools to choose from. How do you narrow the field in this instance? By making a list of your requirements and systematically checking the boxes until you have a list of schools which match or come close to matching your specific requirements.
I do recommend that you consider hiring an educational consultant to help you select schools for your short list. These professionals know their schools. While they will charge for their services, they will save you valuable time. They will also protect you and your child from the disappointment which results from setting your school choices unrealistically. If you hire an education consultant, listen to her advice and recommendations.
Have your child "like" the schools on your list. Following their news and activities on Facebook will make her more comfortable when it comes time to visit schools.
Many schools have their own apps. Have your child download these to her iPad so she can see what's going on a regular basis.
Many schools have tours on YouTube. Encourage your child to watch these. This is also an activity which you can do together.
Again, if you have decided to go with the local day school option, you will save much time visiting schools. A couple of hours for each school on your list and the job will be done.
Visiting boarding schools, on the other hand, can be very time-consuming. It is always best to try to fit as many school visits of any kind in over the summer months if you can. Admissions staff will have more time to spend with you during the summer months. Visits during prime time or the late fall increase the likelihood that interview and tour schedules will be tight. Plan accordingly.
Completing the admissions applications
Once you have determined to which schools you will be applying, schedule completing the admissions applications as soon as you can. Do not wait until the last minute. Just because the applications are online doesn't mean that you can leave the process until the eleventh hour.
Download teacher recommendation forms and transcript requests as soon as you can. Deliver the teacher recommendation forms together with a stamped return envelope in October or November at the latest.
Schedule your child's standardized admissions test - ISEE/SSAT - as soon as you can as well.
Complete the Parent's Statement and the Candidate's Statement as early as possible.
At this point you will have begun to accumulate many important papers for your child's various applications and testing. Create files for these so that you have everything at your fingertips when needed. Scan any paper documents and save them on your Google Drive or other service in the Cloud such as Dropbox. Then you can access your applications from anywhere whenever you want or need to.
Seeking financial aid
If you require financial aid, you need to create an account online and begin work on the PFS. This important part of the application process requires documentation. Once again, please do not wait until the last minute to complete your PFS and submit it. Absolutely do not miss any financial aid deadlines. Schools have a pool of funds available for financial aid. Once that pool is allotted to all applicants who have met the deadline, it is allotted.
Some schools have rolling admissions. Others have admission deadlines. Enter these important dates into your iPad and Smartphone so that you can consult them as needed. Schools with end of January deadlines generally issue their acceptance letters on March 10 or thereabouts.
If your child is accepted at her first choice, that's wonderful. Mission accomplished. If your child is rejected by any of the schools, that closes another door.
What if she is wait-listed at one school she really likes but accepted at her last choice? Discuss this sort of situation with your educational consultant. She will know whether holding out for the possible acceptance at the wait-listed school makes sense or not.