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 March 29, 2015 |
5 Tips for a Successful Admissions Interview
When you meet with the admissions staff, create a favorable impression by following these tips.
When you and your child visit schools that you are seriously interested in, you will also have an appointment with the admissions staff. Depending on the school, you might even meet with a dean or perhaps the head of school. Obviously when you meet with these people, you will be trying to put your best foot forward. However you will be in unfamiliar surroundings. So, my advice is simply to relax. Stay calm. Above all don't let your nerves get the better of you. Follow these tips for a successful admissions interview.
 
1. Don't draw attention to any minor learning issues.
 
I am not for a minute advocating that you cover anything up. Nor I am suggesting that you dissemble. What I am reminding you of is the fact that admissions staff are professionals. They have reviewed hundreds, even thousands of applications over the years. They know how to interpret test scores and transcripts. So let the test scores and academic records speak for themselves. Blurting out that your son has a slight learning difficulty is not going to enhance your chances of his getting in to some schools. It will not matter much in others. On the other hand if he has been diagnosed with dyslexia or ADD or some other learning difficulty, then you need to be applying to a school which has qualified staff and programs in place to address those learning issues. But your son's B grade in mathematics or his lack of prowess in fine arts
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Updated May 25, 2016 |
What If You Cannot Visit The School?
Distance and finances may preclude your actually visiting schools. But you have some other options.
Many applicants live at great distances from the schools which they would like to visit. If you live in Asia or Europe, for example, it is not always financially or logistically possible to visit schools in person. What alternatives exist for those situations? Actually several. Off campus school visits come in a couple of flavors.
 
Admisisons Staff Visits Overseas
 
Many private schools send their admissions staff overseas to major cities in countries where they have a substantial applicant pool. Ask for details of visits in your area. While you will have to rely on the school's video and web presentations of its school life and activities, at least you will have a live person to whom you can pose questions. If English is not your first language, this meeting with school officials will give you a deadline to meet. After all, you are planning to attend school in a country where English is the instructional language used in most classes. You will be expected to have your interview in English.
 
Interviews With Local Alumni
 
Just like many universities and colleges do, private schools also will arrange an interview with an alumnus or alumna who lives in your local area. This is a quite common practice for meeting candidates who live here in the United States. Remember that most schools are looking for qualified candidates who may not have considered applying because of financial constraints. If you cannot afford to pay the school fees, chances are that you cannot afford to travel to the
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Updated June 10, 2016 |
Preparing for Admissions Tests
Don't leave admissions test preparation to the last minute. Adequate test preparation will give you the confidence to take the test and do as well as you can.
Preparing for the SSAT and ISEE which most private schools use as part of their admissions procedures requires some advance planning. You can't cram for these standardized admissions tests. Wny? Because you are being tested on your knowledge of subject materials which have been learned over many years. On the other hand there are certain things you can do to make sure you test as well as you possibly can.
 
1. Be familiar with the test format. This requires your actually taking several practice tests. Being familiar with a test format means that you will not waste time trying to understand the test instructions. Every minute is precious in a timed test. The SSAT offers some sample questions for your to review. Work these in a quiet area where you can focus on how the questions are asked. There is no substitute for practice. The more tests you work the more you will relax and be confident the day of the actual test.

2. Purchase a test preparation book. There are several commercial test preparation books.  The SSAT offers its own proprietary test preparation materials. It makes good sense to order both the commercial and SSAT materials. You can only boost your confidence by consistent practice using these test preparation materials. Will these materials improve your scores? Only understanding the test format and the material being tested will produce good results.

3. Understand the scoring. You will lose 1/4 point for incorrect answers or
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Updated June 10, 2016 |
5 Admissions Tips for International Students
In addition to complying with all the usual admissions requirements, international students must also obtain a student visa. Here are five tips to help you navigate the admissions process.

If you live overseas and are thinking about sending your child to private school in the United States, pay attention to the following five admissions tips for international students. I am assuming that you are not American citizens or green card holders and that English is not your first language. Many students from countries outside the United States want to attend American private schools. International students make up about 15% of the student population in American boarding schools, according to The Association of Boarding Schools.  

The I-20 Form

Be aware that not every private school is certified by the United States Immigration Service to accept foreign students. Why is that important? Always confirm that the school in which you are interested is a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school. If the school is not SEVP-certified to accept foreign students, it will be unable to issue the form I-20 which is the first step in applying for and obtaining a Student Visa from the U.S. Immigration Service.  Once you have received the I-20 from the school which you have chosen to attend, you will pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee. The Immigration Service will not allow your child into the United States as a student without the proper paperwork. If in doubt, ask the school if it can issue the I-20 form. Do not assume anything.

Pay Attention to The Deadlines

Applying for admission to an American boarding school requires that you stay organized

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Updated April 10, 2015 |
The Writing Sample
At some point in the admissions' process, your child is going to have to write an essay sometimes referred to as The Writing Sample. Here's how to cope with that challenge.
At some point in the admissions' process, your child is going to have to write an essay otherwise known as The Writing Sample. Don't be unduly fazed by this requirement. It is simply one more piece of the admissions' puzzle.
 
What is the Purpose of the Writing Sample?
 
Very simple really. All the school wants to do is determine how well your child can express herself in her writing. Many schools will split this part of the application up into a series of questions. On The Madeira School application, for example, she is asked to answer five questions in Part 2.  By the way, Part 2 of Madeira's application is to be completed by the candidate. This is very important. The school wants to hear what your child has to say. Not what her uncle or father has to say. One thing you must never do, no matter how tempted, is to use the services of an essay writing company such as EssayEdge. Most of the time it isn't possible anyway, because the two places where an essay is required are on the SSAT test itself and during the interview at the school. So, put that thought out of your mind right now. The school wants to hear what your child thinks, it wants to see how she writes and all in her own words, not somebody else's.
 
Practice Makes Perfect
 
The secret to writing effortlessly is to practise as much as you can. Encourage your child to keep
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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.