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:
Updated May 26, 2016 |
The Private School Interview
The independent school admissions process varies greatly from one school to another. There is, however, one critical requirement that is truly universal--the interview.
The independent school admissions process varies greatly from one school to another. There is, however, one critical requirement that is truly universal--the interview.  Students who apply to an independent school for admission to grades 6-12 are required to meet with an admissions officer in a one-on-one or small group setting.  You worry as a parent that your child simply can’t have the maturity or know-how to converse in the manner required with a strange adult who is lobbing questions at your child.   Yes, this can be anxiety producing for even the most savvy-minded parent.  But, I’d like to help reframe your thinking on the admissions interview.  
A Window into Your Child's Personality

The interview offers an admissions committee a window into your child’s personality--his or her academic and extra-curricular interests, unique passions, and other skills that matter to your son or daughter.  Keep in mind that the interview can be as short as 10 minutes for a younger child and up to 45 for the high school candidate.  The interviewer is focused on evaluating your child’s academic potential and overall personality by engaging them in a guided conversation that centers on your child’s current school experience, particular strengths--academic, as well as, athletic, artistic, service, leadership, and other special interests.
 
It may help to think of the interview as a detailed conversation for your child with a trained teacher.  It is the job of the admissions officer to establish a rapport with your child.  Admissions officers
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Updated May 26, 2016 |
 Admissions Checklist
Keep yourself on track as you work through the private school admissions process.
Selecting schools which fit your needs and requirements takes a lot of time and effort just by itself. But once that part of the process of choosing a school is finished, you need to focus on the admissions processes for the three to five schools which you have selected. Use this admissions checklist to keep you and your child on track. There is much detail, plenty of forms to fill out and a standardized admissions test to prepare for.
 
Testing
 
I have put admissions testing at the top of my checklist simply because it needs as much advance preparation as your child can give it. While standardized admissions tests are just one of several tools which the admissions professionals at each school will use to assess your child, they are an important part of the assessment process. Most schools use the SSAT and ISEE. But there are other tests out there as well. Once you have narrowed your choice of schools to the magic three to five number, review the admissions requirements carefully. With luck you will dsicover that all the schools on your list use the same test. That will simplify matters enormously for both you and your child.
If, on the other hand, you end up with two or possibly three different tests, you will have those additional test registrations to schedule, register and pay for. Scheduling works best when you start as far in advance as you possibly can. The SSAT opens
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Updated May 25, 2016 |
Play the Hand You Have Been Dealt
Card games such as bridge and solitaire with multiple decks of cards fascinate me. I have learned to play the hand dealt me. So must we all when applying to private school.
No, this is not an article about card games. But the reality is that getting your child into private school requires a similar mindset. You must play the hand which you have been dealt. The admissions staff will review the facts in your child's dossier. Not the "might have beens" or the "wish they were's". As you prepare your child's applications for private school, pay attention to the areas listed below. If you are just starting to think about private school as an option, then focus on these four areas of your child's profile with the goal of presenting her in the best possible light when it comes time apply to private school.
 
Academics
 
Since the school needs to know whether your child can do the academic work, it is very important that her academic transcripts and teacher recommendations address her mastery of core subjects such as English and mathematics. Transcripts, teacher recommendations and test scores ideally should indicate the same thing: that your child can handle the academic work at the schools to which you are applying. An occasional lower grade is OK as long as the transcripts and teacher comments indicate that the issue which caused the low grade in the first place has been dealt with and remediated.
Deficiencies? Less than stellar test scores? A C in math? That's why the interview is so important. The admissions staff will note your explanations on the file. They will take them into consideration. For example, let's
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Updated May 26, 2016 |
5 Challenges To Getting Your Child Into Private School
If you are good at organizing projects, the challenges involved in getting your child into private school will not seem especially daunting.
If you are good at organizing projects, the challenges involved in getting your child into private school will not seem especially daunting. The timeline for the process has some sections which are rather elastic. They can take a lot of time or can be foreshortened depending on your requirements. For example, if you already have a pretty good idea of what kind of school you want, you will save time. Ditto if you actually have identified a couple of specific schools. That being said, I do want you to be aware of at least five challenges which I have identified when choosing a private school for your child.
 
Let's look at five of the challenges facing you.
 
Choosing the right school
 
Choosing the right school i probably the most time-consuming challenge. It can be as easy as surfing the Web and identifying three to five schools right out of the gate. You will be able to take advantage of this shortcut when you have decided that your child will attend one of the local day schools in your community.
 
But if you are thinking about boarding school, the choices multiply almost exponentially. There are hundreds of schools to choose from. There are dozens of schools to consider seriously. So, how do you narrow the field in this instance? You do it by making a list of your requirements and systematically checking the boxes until you have a list of schools which matches or come close to matching your specific requirements.
 
If you
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Updated May 26, 2016 |
Does Your Child's Application Have Legs?
Will your child's application make it to the "Approved" pile? Here's how to give your child's application legs.
Every application to private school goes through a thorough review process. The more competitive the school, the more exhaustive that review process becomes. So, the question we parents want answered is simply: how do we make sure our child's application gets to that final, all important "Approved" stack of folders. Put another way, how do we ensure that our child's application has legs? (Having legs is an expression which speaks to the endurance of whatever is supposed to have legs.) With respect to admissions applications the idea is to advance your child's application from one stage of the process to the next until finally you achieve a positive outcome.
 
Here is what to do to ensure that your child's private school application has legs.
 
All required documentation has been submitted.
 
This sounds so simple, yet you would be amazed at how often an admissions application can founder right at the beginning of the review process. The staffer who reviews your child's application has a checklist of the required materials which must be in the folder. If something is missing, the folder goes into a stack for applications which have missing documents. It cannot normally advance to the next stage of the process for the reading and critical assessment of all those materials unless it is complete. 

Ann Dolin sheds some light on the private school admissions process in this short video.
Note: each school has its own admissions procedures and protocols. The more competition there is for places
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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.