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.
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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 . . .read more
At some point in the admissions' process, your child is going to have to write an essay otherwise known as The Writing Sample. Don't be unduly fazed by this requirement. It is simply one more piece of the admissions' puzzle.
 
What is the Purpose of the Writing Sample?
Very simple really. All the school wants to do is determine how well your child can express herself in her writing. Many schools will split this part of the application up into a series of questions. On The Madeira School application, for example, she is asked to answer five questions in Part 2.  By the way, Part 2 of Madeira's application is to be completed by the candidate. This is very important. The school wants to hear what your child has to say. Not what her uncle or father has to say.

One thing you must never do, no matter how tempted, is to use the services of an essay writing company such as EssayEdge. Most of the time it isn't possible anyway, because the two places where an essay is required are on the SSAT test itself and during the interview at the school. So, put that thought out of your mind right now. The school wants to hear what your child thinks, it wants to see how she writes and all in her own words, . . .read more
Your child has taken the SSAT. You have received the Scores Report. Now what does it mean? How do you read the Scores Report?
 
How to read the Scores Report
You will recall that the SSAT consists of 3 sections:  Quantitative or Math, Verbal and Reading Comprehension. For grades 8-11 each section has a possible 800 points perfect score theoretically allowing a 2400 points total. There is a Writing Sample or Essay but it is not scored.

The SSAT uses Percentile Ranks to show you how your scores in each section compare with students who have taken the test over the last three years. A score in the 85th percentile indicates that you are ahead of 85% of other students taking the test.
 

How do schools use the Scores Report?
Schools use the Scores Report for several things.
 
1. They want to see if you are prepared to do the work at a private school. Private schools typically expect a high standard of academic work. and there is a lot of it. For example, the typical public school high school Shakespeare class will cover one play a year if it is lucky. A private school English literature class will cover several plays a year. And in great depth and detail.
 
2. Schools are looking for deficiencies in your basic or core learning skills. A brilliant mathematician . . .read more
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 . . .read more
You thought everything was set. The test scores were excellent. She had glowing teacher recommendations. The visit and the interview went well. But the school didn't accept your child. What do you do now?
 
A private school does not have to accept your child. Nor does it have to give you any reason why it has refused your child admission. How can this be? Surely there must be some federal or state laws which govern the situation? There is no legal recourse because private schools don't take public funding. They pride themselves on their independence. They admit who they choose for whatever reasons they decide are best.
 
Most of the time parents find themselves in this frustrating situation because they thought they could chose a private school for their child by themselves. Of course technically you can do it. You can also write your own will or buy a house without consulting an attorney. But would you? Should you? Do you trust your limited knowledge of private schools? That is why you need to hire a professional educational consultant. A consultant offers you a wealth of experience for a very modest fee. While she can't guarantee that your child will get into a particular private school, a consultant knows private schools. He understands the process, knows who to call and the questions to ask.

So unless your father endowed . . .read more
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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.