Getting into Private School
The competition for places at some private schools is intense. When a school receives hundreds of applications for a hundred available seats, that indicates a very competitive admissions situation. If your child is applying to a competitive school, what do you do to ensure success? The school admissions staff isn't going to be much help. Indeed more often than note, it will be sphinx-like about letting you know whether your kid stands a chance or not. Money is not an issue. You can afford the fees and all the extras. This school would be ideal for your daughter because you know that the school does an excellent job of getting its graduates into the best colleges and universities. You and your daughter were both impressed with the facilities, programs and the general feel of the campus when you visited. The admissions staff were professional but warm and friendly, as was everyone else you encountered during your visit.
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 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
"Is it too late to apply?" is a nagging question many parents find themselves asking. The circumstances vary, of course, but typically you find yourself deciding in late winter or early spring that either you want to or have to get your child into a private school for the coming fall. Feeling that your child will be better off in private school is a circumstance which gives you the luxury of a flexible schedule. On the other hand, if your organization plans to relocate you, then finding a new school for your children becomes an urgent matter. Time is probably not on your side.
A friend of mine was facing the first situation. She was not happy with her child's public school. Therefore, in January, she and her husband decided to see if there were a place at a local private school about which she knew and of which she thought highly. It turned out that the school did have room, subject to the standard testing and formal admissions process. My friend did have to meet deadlines to complete her child's admissions portfolio, but she did not have the pressure which the second scenario of finding a school in a new city or country entailed.
The just-announced job transfer makes finding a private school in a hurry an absolute necessity. The resulting pressure is enormous. After all, you not only have to uproot and move your family, you have to find a school for your children as well.
So, are you indeed
Most schools require your child's current math and English teachers to complete a teacher recommendation form. These are fairly detailed evaluations of your child's efforts and abilities in these core subject areas. They take about 15-20 minutes for the teacher to complete. So be thoughtful and considerate of the current teacher's time by giving him these forms to complete well in advance of any deadlines.
You typically will download the teacher recommendation forms. You complete the information at the top of the form, then hand the blank form to your child's teacher. Be sure to include an envelope addressed directly to the school's admissions office. Stamp the envelope before you give it to the teacher. Remind the teacher to submit the recommendation forms as soon as possible, in any event no later than December 31 for mid-January deadlines.
Note: you waive your right to review or even see what the teacher writes in her evaluation. This information is strictly confidential.
From Miss Porter's:
I wrote this article and its companion article Applications - The Candidate's Statement to explain how to understand and complete these important forms. The problem with these parts of the application is that they require you and your child to express your thoughts in your own words. You won't be able to check any boxes to select from prepared answers. You will have to write out responses to the school's questions in any way you choose.
David Petersam of Admissions Consultants offers some tips in the following video. While he targets colleges admissions, the advice is quite sound for private high school admissions.
Many schools require a statement from the applicant's parents. After all, you probably know your child better than anybody. The school also wants to know what your concerns and educational objectives are. The goal here is to make sure that everybody's expectations are the same. For example, if you want your son to play on a varsity hockey team and the school offers limited hockey time, you need to deal with that before you decide to send your son to that school. Perhaps your daughter finds math challenging. You will want to point that out so that the school can discuss how it might deal with that concern.
The following questions posed by McCallie School and The Hun School are fairly typical of what you will encounter as you prepare your applications. I will add editorial