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Home > Resources > Private School Admission Process

AQ's step-by-step look at the admission process
by Stewart Dunlop,

Step 1 - Request a Student Admissions and Application Packet
Step 2 - Scheduling an Interview
Step 3 - The Interview
Step 4 - Financial Aid
Step 5 - Submit Your Completed Application
Step 6- Ongoing Correspondence & Communication

Step 1- Request a Student Admissions and Application Packet

Who to contact?

All correspondence should be sent to the attention of each schools admissions office.

Tip #1
Director of Admission, Dean of Admission or Assistant Headmaster for Enrollment Management are the three most commonly used titles to identify the person in charge of the admissions office. If you don't know the name of the appropriate contact person, simply address your inquiry to the "Attention of the Admissions Office." No one will be offended if you don't know the name of the person in charge.

What to request?

Call, write, fax or email the schools in which you are interested and request that their admissions packet. Also look at their web site, they often provided useful information that can assist you in your search.

Tip #1
Be sure to request that the complete packet of admissions and application materials be sent to you at the same time. Many schools segment their mailings which can delay the time it takes for the mailing to reach you.

Some schools will express mail admissions and application materials to students who live outside the US. Inquire to see if this service is available.

What will you receive?
In general the materials that you will receive from each school will include:

School Catalog
A colorful brochure filled with lots of pictures and articles that describe the school and its programs.

International Student Handbook
Many schools will have a handbook that describes the special services for international students.

Student Application Packet
The student application packet will include a student application, a writing sample form, teacher recommendation forms and an academic transcript release form.

Required Educational Tests
Most schools will require the Secondary School Aptitude Test (SSAT). Schools also require the Test of English as a Foreign Language for all studetns for whom English isa second language. Some schools also require international students to take the SSAT. Additionally, schools require all standardized achievement tests used by your current school.

Deadlines and Dates for Admission

Most schools will list two important dates. The first is the application deadline. This is the latest possible date that the school will applications for new students. The second is the admissions notification date. This is the date by which all candidates for admissions will be notified if they have been accepted or denied admission to the school.

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Step 2- Scheduling an Interview

Who to contact?
The majority of private schools and colleges require an on campus admissions interview. An admissions interview can be arranges via the same process used to request a student application packet.

Tip #1
If you live a great distance from a school in which you are interested, many institutions will help arrange an interview with a local or regional admissions representative. In many cases, these representatives are alumi or aluma of the school.

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Step 3- The Interview

Why is an interview important?

An on campus interview is one of the most important parts of the application process. While local and or regional informational gatherings and interviews are helpful and convenient, most schools place a great deal of importance on the quality of a candidate's interview. The admissions officers at each school want to meet you face to face.

Tip #1
Interviews work both ways. While it is important for a admissions officer to meet you, it is equally important for you to visit the school, meet with students, observe classes and get a general feel for the school.

Tip #2
Don't schedule several interviews in a single day. Actually, I advise students to schedule only one interview a day. Take your time. Enjoy your visit. See all there is to see, it is important.

What to wear?
Because the interview is one of the most important elements of the application process, personal impressions should be a priority. My best advice is to dress appropriately. For some candidates that means wearing a suit or a sport coat for males or an appropriate dress or dress suit for females. Good grooming is also important.

Tip #1
It is always best to be yourself. However, that doesn't mean wearing a tie-dye shirt and ripped jeans. Don't be worried about expressing your own unique style and personality through the way you dress. Just don't be disrespectful or offensive. Remember, this might be the school you want to attend.

What to bring?

Ask each school before your interview what materials they would like to see. Most schools are only interested in meeting you during the interview, however, I always found it helpful if a candidate came prepared with a portfolio. The portfolio should represent a special interest such as painting, writing, music, etc.

Tip # 1
Always carry an extra copy of your transcript in case your the person interviewing you doesn't have it in advance of your meeting.

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Step 4- Financial Aid

Who to contact?

Some private high schools and most colleges or universities will have a separate officer who handles financial aid applications and requests. This information along with the necessary financial aid and student loan application materials should be requested at the same time that you request you admissions application packet. See the AQ Financial Aid section for more information.

Tip #1
Applying for financial aid can be a stressful experience. Request information early and be sure to contact each school's financial aid officer with any questions.

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Step 5- Submit Your Completed Application

Each school will have a clearly published application checklist included with the school catalog and application materials. This check list will include all deadline. While many schools encourage students to complete the entire admissions process by the 1st of February be sure to check with each school.

Tip #1
Many schools have rolling admissions, which means the admissions office will inform you of their decision as soon as you complete and submit the application materials.

Step 6- Ongoing Correspondence & Communication

After you have submitted your application, an admissions officer will evaluate your candidacy. Find out who is this person is in case you have any follow up questions.

Tip #1
Most schools don't like denying students admission. If you are really worried about getting in and you can't wait until the notification date, some schools will tell you what they think your chances are for admission. The person evaluating your candidacy is most likely to provide you this information.

Tip #2
Don't bother this person with unnecessary phone calls, birthday cards, chocolates, or other expressions of your desire to be accepted. It doesn't pay to be a pest.-Step 6-

Ongoing Correspondence & Communication
Unless you have applied for rolling or early admission, most schools will notify candidates on or around April 15. Students who have been offered admission are generally given 30 days before a decision and a deposit is required. Once again be sure to consult each school for variation in the notification process.

In general, admissions committees will render one of four decisions on your application:

Admit: Yeah, you are accepted!

Defer: They are still interested in you, but they probably have some concerns about your grades. They may want to see another set of marks before they make their final decision. Call the school to clarify your status.

They really like you, but don't have a room just yet. Most schools create a waitlist of qualified candidates in case a student who was enrolled decides not to attend at the last minute. In this event the student or students at the top of the waitlist are offered admission. Call the school to clarify your status.

Denied: It's the not decision that you had hoped for, but you know what, if you don't get admitted to a school it generally works out for the best in the long run.

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Six steps to admission:

Request a Student Admissions and Application Packet

2. Scheduling an Interview

3. The Interview

4. Financial Aid

5. Submit Your Completed Application

6. Ongoing Correspondence & Communication

© Copyright 2001-2005 AdmissionsQuest, Inc.