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.
View the most popular articles in How Admissions Works:
In Why Should I Admit Your Child? I looked at the admissions process from the school's perspective. We discovered that schools were looking for specific criteria in their applicant pool. They wanted to make sure that any student they admitted was capable of doing the academic work. They also wanted to make sure that applicants would be a good fit for the school.
 
Now let's turn the tables and look at the question from a parent's point of view. There are many specific reasons why you would want to send your child to a particular school. You also want to make sure that the school is a good fit for your child. Let's examine the principal items on your school selection bucket list.
 
The school offers the amount of financial aid I require.
 
For most of us financial aid is at the top of the list. It is a top concern when it comes to selecting a private school. Whether you need everything paid for or just a bit of help to make attending private school viable for you and your family, you need to calculate the amount of aid you need. Then be very clear with the schools which you have on your short list precisely what your financial requirements are. Laura Volovski explains what is involved.
 
 
Completing the Parents' Financial Statement as soon as you can before the end of a calendar year will help immensely. That data is sent . . .read more
Admissions to private school is not a beauty contest. Neither is it a forgone conclusion just because you offer most if not all of the things the school is looking for. With that in mind let's examine some of the things a private school admissions director will be looking for.

1. Your child's file is complete.
While you'd think this is a no-brainer, many parents leave things to the last minute. If we have a deadline posted for submission of applications, we have it for a reason. Failure to meet the application deadlines without a really good, compelling reason will generally mean that we will put your child's file in the incomplete category. In other words, we cannot make any decision until we have everything in the file. Test scores. Teacher recommendations. Academic transcripts. The complete application. The works.

2. We met you and your child.
Whenever it's practical, we expect you and your child to visit the school. We want to meet you. The interview is a most important part of our application process. It's the time when we get to ask you questions about you and your expectations of the school. It's also time for you to size us up and determine if our school is a good fit for your objectives and those of your child.
In the case of international students, we often are able to arrange for the admissions staff to visit your country. Or we can make arrangements to facilitate the . . .read more
Admissions to Private School: A-Z  puts all the information you need to navigate the private school admissions process in one convenient place.  Whether you are just beginning or have been through this before, you will find help and advice to guide you.

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 . . .read more
The following five common admission mistakes can and should be avoided. With a little advance planning and organization this is quite doable. The point of avoiding these common admissions mistakes is to improve your child's chances during the entire admissions process.
 
Plan your private school search process. On this site we have several articles which you can bookmark and refer to from time as you work through what is, after all, a lengthy, 16-18 month process on average.  Our Admissions Calendar will help keep you organized from week to week, month to month. With a long term project like choosing a private school it is easy to lose site of some of the important deadlines. When that happens, you will stress yourself unduely as you try to accomplish several month's work in a few weeks.
 
1. Not Observing the Deadlines
 
Deadlines are set for a reason. The admissions staff has hundreds of applications to process. If you miss the deadlines, it may not be a big deal to you. But it does send a signal to the admissions staff. Most likely the wrong signal.
 
Missing deadlines due to unforseen circumstances happens. If that happens to you, then call immediately that you realize you will not be able to meet the deadlines. People will be much more accommodating when you alert them before, not after, the fact.
 
Remember that each private school is unique. Many have the same deadlines. Others set their own cutoff dates. Be careful to observe those.
 
2. Not Giving the Recommendation Forms . . .read more
Many students from countries outside the United States want to attend American private schools. In fact international students make up about 15% of the student population in American boarding schools according to The Association of Boarding Schools.  However, you need to be aware that not every private school is certified by the United States Immigration Service to accept foreign students. If in doubt, ask the school.
 
Pay Attention to The Deadlines
It is important to stay organized and on top of deadlines throughout the admissions process. If you are not an American citizen, you will need a student visa to enter and stay in the United States in order to attend the private school which accepts you. Getting a student visa takes time, typically 3-4 months -  and requires detailed documentation in support of your application.

 

Here are some points to consider:

 

 

1.  Complete and submit your school application.

 

The normal admissions process for each private school must be followed. Once you are accepted by the school, it will give you a Form I-20 which allows you to apply for a student visa. The Form I-20 is part of the Student  and Visitor Exchange Information System (SEVIS) which tracks information about all students coming to the United States.

 


2.  Complete and submit your visa application.
The student visa application and interview is a detailed process requiring you to attend an interview with a U.S. Consular official. You will have to complete many U.S. Immigration Service forms. Check with . . .read more
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How Admissions Works