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 May 26, 2016 |
Why Should I Admit Your Child?
Why should I admit your child? We examine some of the things needed to get into private school.
Why should they admit your child? Admissions to a private school is not a beauty contest. Neither is it a forgone conclusion that just because she offers most if not all of the things the school is looking for that your child will get in. With that in mind let's examine some of the things a private school admissions director will be reviewing and considering when he reviews your child's admissions folder.
 
1. Your child's file is complete.
 
While you would think this is simply common sense, there are many parents who leave things to the very last minute. If we have a deadline posted for submission of applications, we have it posted for a reason. Yes, we are aware that some of the schools to which you are applying do not have admissions deadlines. They have rolling admissions. Each private school sets its own admissions requirements and deadlines. It is your responsibility to keep track of those requirements and deadlines.
 
Failure to meet the application deadlines without a really good, compelling reason will generally mean that we will put your child's file in the incomplete category. In other words, we cannot make any decision until we have everything in the file. Test scores. Teacher recommendations. Academic transcripts. The complete application. The works. All applicants are treated in the same way.
 
2. We met you and your child.
 
Whenever it is practical, we expect you and your child to visit the school. We want to meet you. We want you to experience our school
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Updated March 31, 2016 |
Admissions Testing: Preschoolers
The pressure to get your child into the right school starts at a very early age. We look at some of the assessment hurdles your child might face depending on which school you are considering.

When our daughters went to preschool back in the '70s in Garden City, New York, we took them in for an interview, and that was about it. The children were toilet-trained and pretty well socialized. To the best of my knowledge, there were no formal assessments of their cognitive skills and so on. As far as their mother and I were concerned, our daughters were gifted children. We never had any formal assessment of our suspicions until the girls were much older at which point testing confirmed that they were indeed gifted. 

Is your child gifted or bright? There is a difference.  For a detailed explanation of the differences read Gifted vs. Bright: Understanding the Difference

Preschool admissions assessments have changed in the 21st century. Preschools want to know what your child knows and what she is capable of at age two. So, against that backdrop, let's look at some of the more common ways preschools assess their very young applicants. And, perhaps even more important from our point of view as parents, let's try to understand why such testing is necessary.

Common Assessment Tools

The Otis-Lennon School Ability Test is commonly known as Olsat. This test is popular in New York City where it is a requirement for admission into programs for gifted children. The OLSAT traces its roots back to a test developed by Dr. Arthur Sinton Otis known as Army Alpha, which was administered to U.S. Army recruits in World War I.

Another test which you will encounter is the

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Updated April 10, 2017 |
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
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Updated February 08, 2017 |
Admissions to Private School: A-Z
Admissions to Private School: A-Z puts all the information you need to navigate the private school admissions process in one convenient place. Whether you are just beginning or have been through this before, you will find help and advice to guide you.

Admissions to Private School: A-Z  puts all the information you need to navigate the private school admissions process in one convenient place.  Whether you are just beginning or have been through this before, you will find the help and advice to guide you through the various steps involved in submitting an application for admission to private school.

The Admissions Process

Our Application Calendar will keep you organized throughout the stressful process of applying to private school. There's a lot to keep track of. So plan your work carefully and try to stick to the schedule. Ideally, you have started the process at least 18 months before the expected date of starting school. For example, for fall 2017 admissions, you need to begin in the spring of 2016. If you are an international student, you need to allow an additional six months because there are some important additional steps which you need to follow. Here is an introduction to the Lower School at Rye Country Day School.

Applying to any private school is just that, an application. Why is that? Private schools do not have to accept your child. That is one of the essential differences between public and private schools. Remember that that places in schools in major metropolitan areas tend to be very limited. Enhance your prospects by avoiding common admissions mistakes. What if they waitlist your child? Is that the end of the

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Updated May 06, 2016 |
Preparing for TOEFL
Applicants to American private schools for whom English is not their first language must take a test known as TOEFL.
If you are thinking of applying to an American private school and English is not your first language, you will be required to take a test known as The Test of English as a Foreign Language. Known more commonly as TOEFL which is pronounced TOE-full, this is an important part of the private school admissions process.
 
TOEFL used to be a paper-based test which is known as TOEFL PBT. This older method of taking the TOEFL test is being phased out. The newer form of TOEFL is TOEFL iBT. This is the test which is administered online in test centers worldwide. This video gives you an overview of what TOEFL is.

TOEFL is administered in most countries. You take the computer-based test at an examination center under supervised testing conditions. Watch this short video to see how the test is administered. 
 
So let us examine what is involved and how to prepare for the test.
 
What is TOEFL?
 
TOEFL is a standardized test administered by the world-famous Educational Testing Service. ETS is based in Princeton, New Jersey and has been around since 1947. It is an old, very established, highly regarded testing service. ETS is a not for profit organization.  ETS administers all kinds of tests which are given at over 9,000 locations in 180 countries. The tests with which we are probably most familiar are the SAT and AP tests which high school students typically take in their junior and senior years.
 
Why do you need TOEFL?
 
TOEFL
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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.