You have to be in it to win it, as the saying goes. And when it comes to private school admissions, being in it typically means an eight-month commitment minimum (except with regard to special-needs schools, which usually have open-enrollment).
Do your research. Visit schools’ websites and get insider advice from parents of private-schoolers.
Attend open houses, schedule tour. Some schools require prospective students to take tours, which are offered throughout the fall. Don’t miss this critical step.
Begin test prep. Most private schools require that prospective students take standardized test. Stephen Hayes of General Academic, a consultancy that offers private-school test prep and helps parents navigate the admissions process, suggests taking these exams in January because "students will have more education under their belt before taking the test." Hayes also recommends tacking on an extra 15 to 20 minutes of test prep a night to your child’s homework.
Complete applications. Make sure you know exactly what each school requires. Now is the time to ask your child’s teachers to write recommendations. While high schools in particular look at a number of factors from grades to community service, “schools will choose students they’re lacking from their student body,” says Hayes.
Send out applications. But don’t kick back just yet. Use the holiday break to have your child take at least one practice admissions test.
Testing month begins. Schedule your exams, and remember: some schools require exams to be taken at the school(s) to which you’re applying.
FEBRUARY TO MARCH
Admissions decisions are usually mailed out before each school’s scheduled spring break.
It’s decision time. Remember all that research you did back in August? Hopefully it’s paying off with multiple acceptances. Decide with your child which school is best, and be sure to submit your response by the deadline.
Celebrate! Your child is on the way to private school, and your responsibilities as a parent are done. (Ha! Just kidding!)