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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Once you have agreed on a short list of schools to visit, you need to call and make arrangements for The Interview. Typically this will take place while you visit the school. What is involved?
 
Almost every school wants to meet candidates for admission. The admissions test scores, teacher, principal and extracurricular recommendations as well as the applicant's essay and parent's statement all offer a snap shot of an applicant at a particular time and place. The interview on the other hand gives the admissions staff a chance to fill in the missing elements and to assess the applicant's character.
 
Schedule well in advance.

Be sure to schedule your interview and school visit well in advance. This is not something you do on a Friday afternoon expecting to turn up the next day. There are only so many hours in a day with a correspondingly limited number of interview appointments. It is important to get your interview out of the way by the end of November if at all possible. Most applications need to be completed by the deadline, and that includes the interview.
 
What does the interview entail?

How long is the interview? Usually about 20 minutes. What will the admissions staff ask? The person who interviews you wants to get to know you. He already has an idea of who you are and what you have accomplished. He will be looking to  see what kind of a person you, how serious you are about your school work, what
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Standardized testing is part of most private schools' admissions requirements. The two most commonly used independent school tests are the SSAT or Secondary School Admission Test and the ISEE or Independent School Entrance Examination.
 
Many parents and students focus too much on standardized test scores. While test scores are important, they are only one of many benchmarks which an admissions committee will review.
 
What is being tested?

What are schools looking for? Basically, schools want to assess language and mathematics skills. Reading comprehension, vocabulary, reasoning, mathematical concepts and problems and more are the substance of most standardized tests.
 
When can you take the test?

SSAT and ISEE are offered several times a year in many locations nationwide. For registration deadlines, fees and other details consult their sites. You can register in a variety of ways incuding online, by telephone, via mail and by fax. If you need assistance paying the examination fees, there are fee waiver programs available.
 
Can you practice for the test?

All the common admissions tests have spawned a wide range of test preparation solutions. SSAT and ISEE have excellent, in-depth guides on their sites which give sample questions and much more. But the plain truth is that there is no point cramming for a standardized test. Become familiar with the testing format and the type of questions asked. Apart from that, do the best you can!
 
Test Preparation Materials
                      
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Most private high schools have application deadlines of January or February. If you are applying to several schools, make sure you are on top of each school's specific deadlines. Use our Application Calendar to keep you organized. The application process varies from school to school.
 
Application Options
 
Generally you have three options for applying to private schools:

 

  • Online at the school's web site
  • Online at the SSAT site 
  • Complete and submit a paper application 

 

Let's look at how each application option works.
 
Applying Via Individual School Web Sites
Not all schools offer an online application feature. But for those schools which have the resources to offer it, you will find the process is straightforward and generally intuitive. Woodberry Forest's is typical. You complete the application, pay for it with a credit card and even download teacher recommendation forms online. How convenient is that? Finally, you can check back as often as you like and see what the status of your application is too.

 

 

 
SSAT's Online Service
The SSAT's School Application Service allows you to apply to several schools using the same information.
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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
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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.