Getting into Private School

Here we cover the private school admissions process from the application to the interview. Get information on how admissions works, when and how to apply, and tips on preparing for testing and interviewing. Learn what you should look for on a school visit and questions you should ask during the interview.
View the most popular articles in Getting into Private School:
Why Should I Admit Your Child?
Why should I admit your child? We examine some of the things needed to get into private school.
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 interview process.

3. Your child's test scores and...
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Applications - The Candidate's Statement
Among the many forms which you must complete when applying to private school is something called The Candidate Statement. Here's what it is involved in preparing this document.
There are tons of forms to fill out when you apply to a private school. Whether you do it online or by hand, you still have to give lots of thought to what you and your child are writing. This is especially important when it comes to The Candidate Statement. Let's look at a couple of schools' forms and see what they require.

Chatham Hall
Chatham Hall calls its Candidate Statement an 'Applicant Response' and specifies up front that the form is "To be completed by the Applicant without assistance." That's true of just about every school to which you will apply. The school wants to get to know each applicant. It wants to understand what makes her 'tick'. Absolutely resist the temptation to guide or correct your child's answers on this form. The admissions staff will know if you 'fix' things anyway.

Chatham Hall wants to know about your child's activities. It asks whether she rides or not and if she plans to ride at the school. Most schools with equestrian programs will want to know if the applicant is a rider. There are several more questions which are fairly straightforward. Then comes the essay. Your child must choose from three questions or prompts. Her answer can be as long or short as she wishes. What are they looking for? They want to see if she can frame a thoughtful response to the question she has chosen. They want to know if she can organize her thoughts...
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Admissions to Private School: A-Z
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.
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 admissions process is that it allows you...
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Preparing for TOEFL
Applicants to American private schools for whom English is not their first language must take a test known as TOEFL.
If you are thinking of applying to an American private school and English is not your first language, you will have to take a test known as The Test of English as a Foreign Language. Known more commonly as TOEFL which is pronounced TOE-full, this is an important part of the private schools admissions process. So let us examine what is involved and how to prepare for the test.

What is TOEFL?
TOEFL is a standardized test administered by the world-famous Educational Testing Service. ETS is based in Princeton, New Jersey and has been around since 1947. It is an old, very established, highly regarded testing service. ETS is a not for profit organization.  ETS administers all kinds of tests which are given at over 9,000 locations in 180 countries.

Why do you need TOEFL?
TOEFL assesses your proficiency in writing and understanding English as well as speaking it. In order to study in an American private school where all the classes are given in English, you must demonstrate your ability to understand and speak English in an academic setting.

How do you take TOEFL?
TOEFL is offered in two testing formats. The most common format is the Internet Based Test of iBT as ETS calls it. This is a test which you take on a computer in an authorized testing center. The other format is the PBT or Paper Based Test. It is only offered six times a year as opposed to the internet based test which is given 30-40...
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5 Admissions Mistakes
These five common admissions mistakes can and should be avoided.
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...
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Getting into Private School

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.

Applications

An in depth look at the private school application process. From teacher recommendations to the acceptance letter, we’ll explore some of the most crucial aspects of applying to private school. Learn more about when and how to apply, why the deadlines are important and what to do when your child is accepted.

Test Preparation

Standardized tests are a large part of the admission process at many private schools. Here you’ll find information on the most commonly used exams and how to prepare for them. Explore the tests, what the scores mean, and how the schools will use them.

School Visits and Interviews

School visits and interviews are an integral part of applying to private school. Learn why it’s important to visit and what to do if that is not possible. Explore school visit options like open houses and shadowing. Get valuable tips on a successful interview and learn what questions you should be asking.