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:
You applied to several schools. But your first choice didn't accept you. Instead it waitlisted you. What exactly does this mean? And why do schools waitlist applicants? What do you do now?
 
What does waitlisting mean?
 
Schools typically offer places to more applicants than they have places for on the theory and experience that they will receive enough acceptances to fill all their seats. Calculating the actual yield from the acceptances which they have sent out is something which experienced admissions officers know how to do almost instinctively. For example, let's say the school has places for 100 students. It could send acceptance letters to 100 applicants. But what happens if only 75 of those families accept the places which have been offered? Having 25 empty seats will wreack havoc with any private school's finances.
 

 
That's where the waitlisting comes in. The admissions officers know that if they offer a certain number of applicants over the actual number of places which they have available, that they will receive the necessary yield of acceptances. For example, using our hypothetical 100 places available, the admissions office sends out 125 acceptance letters. The admissions staff know that historically they will receive 90-100 acceptances when they send out 125 acceptance letters. But what if circumstances conspire to produce the number on the low end of the yield scale? Say they only receive 90 acceptances? That's where the waitlist comes in to play. The school will send out 125 acceptances. It will . . .read more
Many people find the admissions process to private schools intimidating, confusing, complicated and, perhaps, a tad invasive. "Why do they have to know so much about me?" is the question which keeps popping up as you peruse all those admissions materials.

The truth is that admission is more than test scores and a faultless transcript. The school wants to get to know you as much as possible. Who are you? What subjects do you like? What sports do you enjoy? What is your favorite pastime? Behind all those recommendations and test scores is a real person with dreams, aspirations and hopes. A private school wants to encourage you and help you be all you can be.
 
What Are They Looking for?
The admissions staff are not looking for geniuses or stars. If you have good math grades and  think that you might like to explore math in depth, a private school can make that happen. Maybe you want to play hockey on a really good team. Again, the right private school can make that happen. But you will not find the right school for you unless you open up and lay all your dreams and aspirations on the table. Once you do that, the admissions staff can begin to explore all the possibilities with you.

One of the great things about private schools is that they encourage excellence and a well-rounded person. You don't have to be afraid of what others will think if your passion is solving . . .read more
Applying to a private school is a process. Try to begin your private school search more than a year in advance of when you actually want to enroll.This will give you enough time to thoroughly research schools and arrive at well-informed decisions about where to apply.This also helps ensure that you have enough time to take care of all the details. Excluding the school visits you are looking at a project which will require more than 100 hours of your time.

 

If you're a little out-of-sync with the timeline below, not to worry! This is only a rough guideline. While application and testing deadlines are key dates you'll need to follow, families differ in how long they need to explore and evaluate schools.

 

If you are starting the process late in the game or need help with particular parts of the process, seek the professional advice of an educational consultant.
 
  Application Calendar

 

             Month                                    Activity
May
  • Begin with a self assessment.
    • List the academic, athletic and extracurricular opportunities you seek.
    • List any academic or athletic goals you wish to achieve in high school.
  • Research a wide-range of private schools.
  • Review your initial list with your educational consultant.
June
  • Create a list of 10-20 private schools to explore further.
  • Divide this list into 3 groups of schools:
    • Schools where you know you can get accepted
    • Schools which are competitive
    • Schools which are very competitive and will be a reach for you
  • Request information from . . .read more
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