5 Challenges To Getting Your Child Into Private School

5 Challenges To Getting Your Child Into Private School
If you are good at organizing projects, the challenges involved in getting your child into private school will not seem especially daunting.

If you are good at organizing projects, the challenges involved in getting your child into private school will not seem especially daunting. The timeline for the process has some rather elastic sections. They can take a lot of time or can be foreshortened depending on your requirements. For example, if you already have a pretty good idea of what kind of school you want, you will save time. Ditto if you actually have identified a couple of specific schools. That being said, I want you to be aware of at least five challenges I have identified when choosing a private school for your child.

Let's look at five of the challenges facing you.

1. Choosing the right school

Choosing the right school is probably the most time-consuming challenge. It can be as easy as surfing the Web and identifying three to five schools right out of the gate. You can take advantage of this shortcut when you have decided that your child will attend one of the local day schools in your community.

But if you are thinking about boarding school, the choices multiply almost exponentially. There are hundreds of schools to choose from. There are dozens of schools to consider seriously. So, how do you narrow the field in this instance? You do it by making a list of your requirements and systematically checking the boxes until you have a list of schools that matches or come close to matching your specific requirements.

If you can afford it, I recommend hiring an educational consultant to help you select schools for your shortlist. These professionals know their schools. While they will charge for their services, they can and will save you valuable time. They will also protect you and your child from the disappointment which results from setting your school choices unrealistically. When you hire an education consultant, listen to her advice and recommendations to achieve a happy outcome.

"Like" schools on your list on Facebook. Have your child do the same. That way, you both can follow their news and activities on Facebook. This simple action will make her more comfortable when it comes time to visit schools. Literally, she will feel as though they are her schools.

Many schools have apps. Have your child download these to her iPad or iPhone so she can regularly see what's going on. Most schools have tours and videos of school happenings and events on YouTube. Encourage your child to watch these. Why not do this together?

2. Visiting schools

If you choose the local day school option, you will save much time visiting schools. A couple of hours for each school on your list, and the job will be done. You will have to allow for the interview and any testing the admissions office requires during the visit. In most cases, you will probably be able to fit a visit and interview into the morning or afternoon.

This short video illustrates what you might expect to see when visiting a school.

Visiting boarding schools, on the other hand, can be very time-consuming. It is always best to try to fit in as many school visits of any kind over the summer months as you can. Admissions staff will have more time to spend with you during the summer months. Visits during prime time or the late fall increase the likelihood of tight interview and tour schedules. Plan accordingly.

Ideally, you want to leave yourself plenty of time to visit the three or four schools on your shortlist. Depending on where the schools are located, you could need two, possibly three days to travel there, visit the school and return home. Plan as far ahead as you can.

3. Completing the admissions applications

Once you have determined to which schools you will be applying, schedule completing the admissions applications as soon as possible. Do not wait until the last minute. Just because the applications are online doesn't mean that you can leave the process until the eleventh hour.

Download teacher recommendation forms and transcript requests as soon as you can. Deliver the teacher recommendation forms and a stamped return envelope in October or November at the latest. Teachers appreciate the consideration you show them by not having to pay for stamps. Never ask what your child's teacher wrote on her recommendation.

This clip from Private Schools NYC briefly outlines the private school admissions process.

Schedule your child's standardized admissions test - ISEE/SSAT - as soon as possible.

Complete the Parent's Statement and the Candidate's Statement as early as possible. It always makes sense to do a rough draft of your Statement. Then polish it so that it presents you in the best possible light. Resist the temptation to read, much less write your child's Statement. Admissions staffers can spot a parent-assisted, professionally written Candidate's Statement a mile away. Don't do it.

At this point, you will have begun to accumulate many important papers for your child's various applications and testing. Create files for these, so you have everything at your fingertips when needed. Scan any paper documents and save them on your Google Drive or another service in the Cloud, such as Dropbox. Then you can access your applications anywhere you want or need to.

4. Seeking financial aid

If you require financial aid, you must create an account online and begin working on the Parents Financial Statement. This important part of the application process requires documentation. Once again, please do not wait until the last minute to complete your PFS and submit it. Absolutely do not miss any financial aid deadlines. Schools have a finite pool of funds available for financial aid. Once that pool is allotted to all applicants who have met the deadline, it is allotted. Missing the deadline means you will more than likely miss out on financial aid.

5. Being wait-listed

Some schools have rolling admissions. Others have fixed admission deadlines. Enter these important dates into your iPad and Smartphone so you can consult them as needed. Schools with end-of-January deadlines generally issue their acceptance letters on March 10 or thereabouts.

If your child is accepted at the school which is her first choice, that's wonderful. Mission accomplished. If any of the schools reject your child, that closes another door.

What if she is wait-listed at one school she really likes but accepted at her last choice? Discuss this sort of situation with your educational consultant. She will know whether holding out for the possible acceptance at the wait-listed school makes sense or not. This is yet another reason why it is so important to find schools that are a good fit for you and your child.

Once you realize that choosing a private school is a process that requires planning and careful execution of that plan, you will be well on your way to overcoming the five challenges discussed above.

Questions? Contact me via Facebook. @privateschoolreview

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