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.
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Updated December 19, 2016
13 Can't Miss Tips to Get Into Your Dream School
Learn more about the Private School Review "Ultimate Admissions Checklist," with top-flight tips from leading minds in education.

At Private School Review, our mission is to help you learn all you can about private schools across the U.S. In advance of the new year, we’re bringing you the Ultimate Admissions Checklist, for must-know tips on how to get into your dream school.

The checklist was compiled by paneling some of the top experts in education and admissions from across this country. This included thought leaders, administrators, authors and consultants.

Our vision is to provide this guide as a quick-hit checklist for families and students who are tackling the admissions process. Whether you’re just getting started, or are knee-deep in admissions offers.  The guide is functional for pre-school, elementary, middle, high school, and even university levels.

Check out the guide here, and let us know your thoughts!

The Ultimate Admissions Checklist

 
Published April 21, 2016 |
Admissions 101
Here is an overview of the private school admissions process, as well as the steps needed to find the right private school for your child.

Here is an overview of the private school admissions process, as well as the steps needed to find the right private school for your child. Depending on where you live, you will have several options from which to choose. I recommend that you look at every school objectively because you may discover that a school which you thought was not suitable, in fact, is one which you should evaluate in more detail. While private schools have missions which are fairly static and unchanging, they are constantly adding new programs, courses and activities to their mix to remain competitive. The market drives how successful private schools are. Parents have options. Private schools know that and will always try to match their offerings with what they know parents want.

An overview of the process

The school selection process has six components to it: 

  • discussion of your needs and requirements
  • a quick review of available schools
  • evaluation of a short list of schools
  • visits and interviews
  • testing
  • the formal admissions application.

You will notice that a couple of the components on this list overlap. It is perfectly normal to be working on components in a different order from the one outlined above. This list is flexible and is merely a guide to help you work through what is a fairly lengthy eighteen month process. You will discover that some tasks take longer to complete than others. That is to be expected.

Discuss your requirements.

First things first. Figure out what your needs and requirements in a school are. Yes, it is all well

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Updated March 07, 2016 |
Too Long To Read?
TLTR? There are a couple of private school documents which you need to read.
TLTR? Many parents don't take time to read the contract and other documents which the school sends you once your child has been accepted. It is time-consuming. The contract language is often confusing because it is written in legal language.

But you simply must take the time to read and understand those documents before you affix your signature and send off the deposit check.. Even if you happen to think that they are too long to read.

The two basic documents are the Contract and the Discipline/Honor Code. Not only should you read them carefully but make sure that your attorney reviews both documents as well. As Benjamin Franklin said so succinctly: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It makes more sense to understand what you are agreeing to before you sign rather than to discover material information after the fact. A contract is a legal document.  It is enforceable in a court of law.

Contracts
 
Start with that contract which the school sends you after it has accepted your child. Remember that it was written by the school's attorney, not yours. Since that is the case, you need to have your attorney view the contract before you sign. She will explain any of the legalese which is not clear. She will also explain your obligations as well as the school's obligations. Here's an example of the sort of wording which you need to read and understand carefully:
 
"I/we agree
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Updated May 26, 2016 |
 Admissions Checklist
Keep yourself on track as you work through the private school admissions process.
Selecting schools which fit your needs and requirements takes a lot of time and effort just by itself. But once that part of the process of choosing a school is finished, you need to focus on the admissions processes for the three to five schools which you have selected. Use this admissions checklist to keep you and your child on track. There is much detail, plenty of forms to fill out and a standardized admissions test to prepare for.
 
Testing
 
I have put admissions testing at the top of my checklist simply because it needs as much advance preparation as your child can give it. While standardized admissions tests are just one of several tools which the admissions professionals at each school will use to assess your child, they are an important part of the assessment process. Most schools use the SSAT and ISEE. But there are other tests out there as well. Once you have narrowed your choice of schools to the magic three to five number, review the admissions requirements carefully. With luck you will dsicover that all the schools on your list use the same test. That will simplify matters enormously for both you and your child.
If, on the other hand, you end up with two or possibly three different tests, you will have those additional test registrations to schedule, register and pay for. Scheduling works best when you start as far in advance as you possibly can. The SSAT opens
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Updated February 06, 2017 |
Play the Hand You Have Been Dealt
Card games such as bridge and solitaire with multiple decks of cards fascinate me. I have learned to play the hand dealt me. So must we all when applying to private school.
No, this is not an article about card games. But the reality is that getting your child into private school requires a similar mindset. You must play the hand which you have been dealt. The admissions staff will review the facts in your child's dossier. Not the "might have beens" or the "wish they were's". As you prepare your child's applications for private school, pay attention to the areas listed below. If you are just starting to think about private school as an option, then focus on these four areas of your child's profile with the goal of presenting her in the best possible light when it comes time apply to private school.
 
Academics
 
Since the school needs to know whether your child can do the academic work, it is very important that her academic transcripts and teacher recommendations address her mastery of core subjects such as English and mathematics. Transcripts, teacher recommendations and test scores ideally should indicate the same thing: that your child can handle the academic work at the schools to which you are applying. An occasional lower grade is OK as long as the transcripts and teacher comments indicate that the issue which caused the low grade in the first place has been dealt with and remediated.
Deficiencies? Less than stellar test scores? A C in math? That's why the interview is so important. The admissions staff will note your explanations on the file. They will take them into consideration. For example, let's
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