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 |
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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Updated August 23, 2016 |
Why Should I Send My Child to Your School?
There are many reasons why you would want to send your child to a particular school. Let's examine the main ones.
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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Updated May 26, 2016 |
Visiting Schools: Open House, Shadow, Overnight or Tour?
Visiting schools is a necessary part of evaluating the schools on your short list. Here are several ways schools will arrange those visits.
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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Updated June 13, 2016 |
Applications - Principal/Head/Counselor Recommendation Form
Most schools require confidential recommendation forms as part of the application process. The forms coming from your child's current school and teachers need to be handled according instructions given in the admissions materials.

Recommendations from your child's current head of school or principal or guidance counselor are an important component in your child's private school admissions portfolio. Why? Because they give the admissions staff an assessment of both your child's abilities and her accomplishments by someone who has actually taught her. Strong recommendations from professionals who know your child can make a difference. So can weak recommendations. Professional recommendations made by a private school employee are confidential. You will probably never see what the head of school wrote about your child. Neither will the admissions staff reveal that information. On the other hand professional recommendations made by a public school employee are a different matter which I shall explain below. While this video approaches recommendations from a college applications perspective, much of it applies to the private schools admissions process.

Are there special forms to be used?

Recommendation forms typically are completed and submitted by your child's current principal or head or guidance counselor directly to the admissions departments of the schools to which your child is applying. As noted at the beginning of this article, they are an important part of the applications process. 

These recommendations should be handled according to each school's very specific instructions. They are the evidence the school needs to substantiate all oral or written statements about your child. These documents are not hearsay or anecdotal. They are professional opinions and records which the school considering your child's application needs to review. They complete an

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Updated May 26, 2016 |
5 Things Every Private School Applicant Should Do
Most of these suggestions are common sense. The secret to applying to private schools is to get a head start on the process.

The private school search process is complicated enough without making it more complicated. Use these five tips to keep you focused and on track. Most of these suggestions are common sense and you are probably following them anyway. But take time to review them well in advance of visiting schools and doing the actual applications. You will save valuable time.

1. Write a good essay.

"Essay?" " Write?" I can just imagine what you are thinking about howyour child will do on this part of the application. However, why not do what you always do? Plan ahead. Download the Candidate Statement portion of the school's application. Print out a couple of copies. Then, starting in July or August or any other time which works best for you, have your child work the questions and think about the answers. That way, when it comes time in December and January to complete those important parts of the application, she will be able to write confidently, clearly and concisely. This brief video will explain how to write an essay in terms she will understand.

"But her spelling is atrocious. She texts all the time and doesn't spell or capitalize according to the rules." These days that is a very real concern that you should have. And it's another reason why she needs to do a couple of dry runs before the real thing. While I don't suggest that you correct her work for content, I strongly

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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.