How Admissions Works

The private school admissions process can be competitive. Explore the process, compile your profile and submit your application with help from our tips and tools. Explore the challenges of getting into private school and the most common mistakes made during the admission process.
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TLTR? Many parents don't take time to read the contract and other documents which the school sends you once your child has been accepted. It is time-consuming. The contract language is often confusing because it is written in legal language.

But you simply must take the time to read and understand those documents before you affix your signature and send off the deposit check.. Even if you happen to think that they are too long to read.

The two basic documents are the Contract and the Discipline/Honor Code. Not only should you read them carefully but make sure that your attorney reviews both documents as well. As Benjamin Franklin said so succinctly: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It makes more sense to understand what you are agreeing to before you sign rather than to discover material information after the fact. A contract is a legal document.  It is enforceable in a court of law.

Contracts
 
Start with that contract which the school sends you after it has accepted your child. Remember that it was written by the school's attorney, not yours. Since that is the case, you need to have your attorney view the contract before you sign. She will explain any of the legalese which is not clear. She will also explain your obligations as well as the school's obligations. Here's an example of the sort of wording which you need to read and understand carefully:

 

"I/we...
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Selecting schools which fit your needs and requirements takes a lot of time and effort just by itself. But once that part of the process of choosing a school is finished, you need to focus on the admissions processes for the three to five schools which you have selected. Use this admissions checklist to keep you and your child on track. There is much detail, plenty of forms to fill out and a standardized admissions test to prepare for.
 
Testing
 
I have put admissions testing at the top of my checklist simply because it needs as much advance preparation as your child can give it. While standardized admissions tests are just one of several tools which the admissions professionals at each school will use to assess your child, they are an important part of the assessment process. Most schools use the SSAT and ISEE. But there are other tests out there as well. Once you have narrowed your choice of schools to the magic three to five number, review the admissions requirements carefully. With luck you will dsicover that all the schools on your list use the same test. That will simplify matters enormously for both you and your child.
 

 
If, on the other hand, you end up with two or possibly three different tests, you will have those additional test registrations to schedule, register and pay for. Scheduling works best when you start as far in advance as you possibly can. The SSAT opens...
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No, this is not an article about card games. But the reality is that getting your child into private school requires a similar mindset. You must play the hand which you have been dealt. The admissions staff will review the facts in your child's dossier. Not the "might have beens" or the "wish they were's". As you prepare your child's applications for private school, pay attention to the areas listed below. If you are just starting to think about private school as an option, then focus on these four areas of your child's profile with the goal of presenting her in the best possible light when it comes time apply to private school.
 
Academics
 
Since the school needs to know whether your child can do the academic work, it is very important that her academic transcripts and teacher recommendations address her mastery of core subjects such as English and mathematics. Transcripts, teacher recommendations and test scores ideally should indicate the same thing: that your child can handle the academic work at the schools to which you are applying. An occasional lower grade is OK as long as the transcripts and teacher comments indicate that the issue which caused the low grade in the first place has been dealt with and remediated.
 

 
Deficiencies? Less than stellar test scores? A C in math? That's why the interview is so important. The admissions staff will note your explanations on the file. They will take them into consideration. For example, let's...
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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. That being said, I do want you to be aware of at least five challenges which I have identified when choosing a private school for your child.
 
Let's look at five of the challenges facing you.
 
Choosing the right school
 
Choosing the right school i probably the most time-consuming challenge. It can be as easy as surfing the Web and identifying three to five schools right out of the gate. You will be able to take advantage of this shortcut 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. There are dozens of schools to consider seriously. So, how do you narrow the field in this instance? You do it by making a list of your requirements and systematically checking the boxes until you have a list of schools which matches or come close to matching your specific requirements.
 
If you...
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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 unless it is complete. 

Ann Dolin sheds some light on the private school admissions process in this short video.
 
 
Note: each school has its own admissions procedures and protocols. The more competition there is for places...
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