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 |
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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Updated May 26, 2016 |
Why Should I Admit Your Child?
Why should I admit your child? We examine some of the things needed to get into private school.
Why should they admit your child? Admissions to a private school is not a beauty contest. Neither is it a forgone conclusion that just because she offers most if not all of the things the school is looking for that your child will get in. With that in mind let's examine some of the things a private school admissions director will be reviewing and considering when he reviews your child's admissions folder.
 
1. Your child's file is complete.
 
While you would think this is simply common sense, there are many parents who leave things to the very last minute. If we have a deadline posted for submission of applications, we have it posted for a reason. Yes, we are aware that some of the schools to which you are applying do not have admissions deadlines. They have rolling admissions. Each private school sets its own admissions requirements and deadlines. It is your responsibility to keep track of those requirements and deadlines.
 
Failure to meet the application deadlines without a really good, compelling reason will generally mean that we will put your child's file in the incomplete category. In other words, we cannot make any decision until we have everything in the file. Test scores. Teacher recommendations. Academic transcripts. The complete application. The works. All applicants are treated in the same way.
 
2. We met you and your child.
 
Whenever it is practical, we expect you and your child to visit the school. We want to meet you. We want you to experience our school
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Updated October 25, 2016 |
Applications - The Candidate's Statement
Among the many forms which you must complete when applying to private school is something called The Candidate Statement. Here's what it is involved in preparing this document.
There are tons of forms to fill out when you apply to a private school. Whether you do it online or by hand, you still have to give lots of thought to what you and your child are writing. This is especially important when it comes to The Candidate Statement. Let's look at a couple of schools' forms and see what they require.
 
 
Chatham Hall calls its Candidate Statement an Applicant Response and specifies up front that the form is "To be completed by the Applicant without assistance." That's true of just about every school to which you will apply. The school wants to get to know each applicant. It wants to understand what makes her tick. Absolutely resist the temptation to guide or correct your child's answers on this form. The admissions staff will know if you fix things anyway.
 
 
Chatham Hall wants to know about your child's activities. It asks whether she rides or not and if she plans to ride at the school. Most schools with equestrian programs will want to know if the applicant is a rider. There are several more questions which are fairly straightforward. Then comes the essay. Your child must choose from three questions or prompts. Her answer can be as long or short as she wishes. What are they looking for? They want to see if she can frame a thoughtful response to the question she has chosen. They want to know if she
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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.