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.
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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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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 can organize her thoughts
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First Choice Letters and Personal Letters of Recommendation
Getting your child into a competitive school is a tough assignment. Don't let the many challenges overwhelm you. There is a simple solution.
The competition for places at some schools is intense. There are thousands of applicants for a hundred places. The school admissions staff is sphinx-like about letting you know whether your kid stands a chance or not. You can afford the fees and all the extras. You really want your daughter to get in because you know that the school does a great job of getting its graduates into the best colleges and universities.
 
So, what do you do? Do you push? Do you flaunt your wealth? Do you try to impress with your social pedigree? What about sending the school a first-choice letter? Will that help? Do you have the CEO of a Fortune 100 company write the school on your daughter's behalf? Do personal recommendation letters really help? For the answers to these questions you need to look at the private school admissions process and understand how it works.
 
Understand the Admissions Process
 
Admissions to any private school seems like an arcane process. But it really isn't all that mysterious. After all, the staff know who they want to admit based on a stack of criteria they have in place at the moment. Market conditions have an effect on those decisions. If they have four applicants for every place available, they will be selective. Why wouldn't they be? The school has a reputation to uphold. So it makes sense to them to offer places to young people who can do the work and fit into the community.
 
An applicant's profile is a
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Is It Too Late to Apply?
Starting the admissions process and getting into a private school in late spring and early summer is a challenge.
It's a nagging question many parents ask themselves. You suddenly decide in late winter or early spring that you want to get your child into a private school for fall. Or perhaps a job transfer makes finding a private school in a hurry an absolute necessity. So, are you indeed too late?

It depends. Let's look at some of the reasons why you may be too late and some reasons why you still may have time to get your child into private school on short notice.

It depends....

  • On the grade
  • On the school
  • On the academics
  • On financial aid requirements
 
Which grade?
 
Which grade are you trying to get into? It is normally really difficult to find a place in a good nursery or pre-school by April or May. But call around. If they will entertain your application, perhaps you can be put on a wait list.
 

Kindergarten, 6th grade and 10th grade are the major entry points for private school. Finding places will depend on the availability of places. The only way to know if a school has a place is to call. If you are lucky, the school might have a last minute cancellation or withdrawal. Or better yet, the particular grade you are seeking to find a place in was not filled. That can happen. Especially in tough economic times. Most schools need full classes in order to balance their budgets. If your budget is based on 15 children in grade 8 and you only have 11, you will be much more receptive to

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Admissions - The Acceptance Letter
The desired result of taking the admissions test, visiting schools and submitting all that paperwork is to receive an acceptance letter. Here's how to handle this part of the admissions process.
The final step in the process of choosing a private school is dealing with the acceptance letter. These letters are typically mailed in mid-March for schools which have a January 31 (or thereabouts) deadline for applications. If the school has rolling admissions, you will receive your acceptance letter or an offer of a place at the school once your admissions file is completed and a decision has been made.
 
If you have been accepted
 
Schools will give you a date by which you must accept or refuse the offer of admission. Acceptance requires the return of the acceptance forms together with payment of a deposit for next year's tuition.That is usually 10% of the fees. So, for example, if next year's tuition is $25,000, you will need to return the acceptance forms with a payment of $2,500. If you applied for financial aid, you will also receive a letter detailing the terms of your financial aid package.
 
It is very important to read all the materials which the schools send you and deal with them immediately. You have a limited window of opportunity in which to respond. If, for some reason, you do not reply to the acceptance letter, the school will most likely give away your child's place.
 
What if the financial aid package is not enough?
 
It is possible that the financial aid award letter will contain some perplexing news. You may have required $15,000 in aid and the school is only offering $10,000. What are your options? Discuss your situation with
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