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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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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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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In Why Should I Admit Your Child? I looked at the admissions process from the school's perspective. We discovered that schools were looking for specific criteria in their applicant pool. They wanted to make sure that any student they admitted was capable of doing the academic work. They also wanted to make sure that applicants would be a good fit for the school.
Now let's turn the tables and look at the question from a parent's point of view. There are many specific reasons why you would want to send your child to a particular school. You also want to make sure that the school is a good fit for your child. Let's examine the principal items on your school selection bucket list.
The school offers the amount of financial aid I require.
For most of us financial aid is at the top of the list. It is a top concern when it comes to selecting a private school. Whether you need everything paid for or just a bit of help to make attending private school viable for you and your family, you need to calculate the amount of aid you need. Then be very clear with the schools which you have on your short list precisely what your financial requirements are. Laura Volovski explains what is involved.
Completing the Parents' Financial Statement as soon as you can before the end of a calendar year will help immensely. That data is sent
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As I have mentioned several times in other articles about choosing and evaluating private schools, you really must set foot on the campus in order to fully experience the school. Visiting the private schools on your short list is really not optional.
Isn't it enough to visit schools virtually these days? Those professionally produced videos on the schools' web sites are great. The students' YouTube videos reveal a bit of what life is like at their school. Right? Not exactly. These presentations are all professionally produced and edited marketing pieces designed to encourage you to learn more about their schools. After you do your in-depth reading of all the schools' materials, it's time for you to decide which schools to visit. You ideally will have 3 to 5 schools on your short list. Laura Barr explains how visiting private schools works.
For example, let's say you had 8 schools which really appear to be a good match for your requirements and your child's needs. Then you should eliminate 2, preferably 3 schools from that larger list. This is especially important when you have selected schools located at a distance from where you live. Visiting 8 schools far away from home will be both time-consuming and expensive. Make that short list of 3 to 5 schools to actually visit.
The visits will take one of these forms:
Open Houses
Here is how an open house works. It is really very similar to a real estate open house. The school advertises
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Recommendation forms completed and submitted your child's current principal or head or guidance counsellor are an important part of the applications process. They have to be handled according to each school's very specific instructions. They are the evidence the school needs to substantiate and all oral or written statements about your child. These documents are not hearsay or anecdotal. They are professional opinions and records which the school needs to review. They complete an important part of your child's application. But remember: teacher or principal and other confidential recommendations are just one part of the applications process. On the other hand, be aware that the principal or counsellor will tell it like it is. Professionally but at the same time clinically.
Where Are the Forms?
On the school's web site under Admissions. Typically you can download the Principal/Head/Counselor Recommendation Forms which are available in PDF format like most of the other admissions materials. You complete the information at the top of the form, then hand the blank form to your child's principal or head of school or, in some cases, the school's guidance counsellor. Be sure to include an envelope addressed directly to the school's admissions office. Stamp the envelope before you give it to the counsellor or principal's office. Remind the counsellor to submit the recommendation forms as soon as possible, in any event no later than December 31 for mid-January deadlines.
You waive your right to review or even see what the counsellor writes in her evaluation. This information is strictly
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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.


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.