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 June 10, 2016 |
How To Read The Test Scores
SSAT test scores can be mysterious to most parents. What do they mean? How does the admissions staff use them?
Your child has taken the SSAT. You have received the Scores Report. Now what does it mean? How do you read the Scores Report?
How to read the Scores Report
You will recall that the SSAT consists of 3 sections:  Quantitative or Math, Verbal and Reading Comprehension. For grades 8-11 each section has a possible 800 points perfect score theoretically allowing a 2400 points total. There is a Writing Sample or Essay but it is not scored.
The SSAT uses Percentile Ranks to show you how your scores in each section compare with students who have taken the test over the last three years. A score in the 85th percentile indicates that you are ahead of 85% of other students taking the test.
How do schools use the Scores Report?
Schools use the Scores Report for several things.
1. They want to see if you are prepared to do the work at a private school. Private schools typically expect a high standard of academic work. and there is a lot of it. For example, the typical public school high school Shakespeare class will cover one play a year if it is lucky. A private school English literature class will cover several plays a year. And in great depth and detail.
2. Schools are looking for deficiencies in your basic or core learning skills. A brilliant mathematician must be able to read and understand what he is reading. Hence, the SSAT has the Reading Comprehension component. Once your deficiencies are identified
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Updated June 10, 2016 |
What If I Miss The Deadlines?
Finding a school which will accept your child after the normal admissions deadline has passed is not easy. But it can be done.
Sometimes things don't go exactly as you'd like. For any number of reasons you find yourself starting theschool search process really late. Perhaps you have been transferred and are suddenly faced with finding a place for your child. It's May and the move is planned for July. You need a place for the fall. And fast. What do you do?
Contact the Schools
Contact the schools directly and see if a place is available. Phone the admissions department as soon as you can. That assumes, of course, that you know the schools in the area to which you are relocating. But what if you don't? What if you simply don't have time to do all that careful research? The solution is to hire an educational consultant to do the work for you. Consultants know private schools and have the contacts to find a place for a qualified student.
You May Be in Luck If There Are Places
Back to the original question: what if you have missed the deadlines for entry next fall? You probably will be out of luck when it comes to the most competitive schools. But there are plenty of very good schools which have rolling admissions or no fixed admissions deadline. In other words, they admit qualified applicants as long as they have places for them. The other reality is that no school likes to have empty places. But things do happen. Students are forced to drop out of school for all kinds of reasons. Suddenly a place
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Updated May 25, 2016 |
Waitlisted? What Next?
Being waitlisted is not the end of the world. More here.
You applied to several schools. But your first choice didn't accept you. Instead it waitlisted you. What exactly does this mean? And why do schools waitlist applicants? What do you do now?
What does waitlisting mean?
Schools typically offer places to more applicants than they have places for on the theory and experience that they will receive enough acceptances to fill all their seats. Calculating the actual yield from the acceptances which they have sent out is something which experienced admissions officers know how to do almost instinctively. For example, let's say the school has places for 100 students. It could send acceptance letters to 100 applicants. But what happens if only 75 of those families accept the places which have been offered? Having 25 empty seats will wreack havoc with any private school's finances.
That's where the waitlisting comes in. The admissions officers know that if they offer a certain number of applicants over the actual number of places which they have available, that they will receive the necessary yield of acceptances. For example, using our hypothetical 100 places available, the admissions office sends out 125 acceptance letters. The admissions staff know that historically they will receive 90-100 acceptances when they send out 125 acceptance letters. But what if circumstances conspire to produce the number on the low end of the yield scale? Say they only receive 90 acceptances? That's where the waitlist comes in to play. The school will send out 125 acceptances. It will
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Updated May 25, 2016 |
They Didn't Accept My Child!
You thought everything was set. The test scores were excellent. She had glowing teacher recommendations. The visit and the interview went well. But the school didn't accept your child. What do you do now?

You thought everything was set. The test scores were excellent. She had glowing teacher recommendations. The visit and the interview went well. But the school didn't accept your child. What do you do now?

A private school does not have to accept your child. Nor does it have to give you any reason why it has refused your child admission. How can this be? Surely there must be some federal or state laws which govern the situation? There is no legal recourse because private schools don't take public funding. They pride themselves on their independence. They admit who they choose for whatever reasons they decide are best.

Most of the time parents find themselves in this frustrating situation because they thought they could chose a private school for their child by themselves. Of course technically you can do it. You can also write your own will or buy a house without consulting an attorney. But would you? Should you? Do you trust your limited knowledge of private schools? That is why you need to hire a professional educational consultant. A consultant offers you a wealth of experience for a very modest fee. While she can't guarantee that your child will get into a particular private school, a consultant knows private schools. He understands the process, knows who to call and the questions to ask.

So unless your father endowed the school or was its first headmaster, don't take a chance. Seek and pay for the expert advice you need. Here

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Updated June 09, 2016 |
You will encounter COOP, HSPT and TACHS if you are applying to some Roman Catholic high schools.
Many Roman Catholic high schools don't use the SSAT or ISSE admissions tests as part of their admissions requirements. For instance, Roman Catholic high schools in the Archdioceses of New York and Brooklyn/Queens administer the Test for Admission Into Catholic High Schools or  TACHS.
Elsewhere in the country you will find the Cooperative Admissions Exam (COOP) or the High School Placement Test (HSPT). What the admissions staff are looking for is readiness for high school level academic work. The tests are generally given in the late fall of grade 8.
Diocesan and archdiocesan high schools generally admit most of their new students from elementary schools within their own dioceses. (A diocese is a legal territory and entity under the control and jurisdiction of a bishop.) Consequently, most of the students have been educated to certain standards which are well-known within that diocese. Standardized tests are not necessary in order to develop a student profile. That profile is already well-known. as well, the teachers and principals of the diocesan elementary schools themselves are known quantities. That being the case, it is simply a matter for the admissions office to identify any marginal performers and decide on those applicants. The testing per se has already ben done.
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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.