Private School Admissions Guide

The Admissions Process Step by Step

Where Do I Start?
Where Do I Start?. Digital Vision/Getty Images

If you're applying to private school, you might be wondering if you have all the important information and know all the steps that you need to take. Well, this admissions guide offers some important tips and reminders to help you apply to private school. However, it's important to note that even this guide isn't a guarantee for admission to the school to your choice; there are no tricks or secrets to getting your child into a private school. Just a lot of steps and the art of finding the school that meets your needs and where your child will succeed most.

Start Your Search Early 

It doesn't matter whether you are trying to find a place in kindergarten, ninth grade in a college prep school or even a postgraduate year at a boarding school, it's important that you start the process a year to 18 months or more in advance. While this isn't recommended because it truly takes that long to apply, but there are a number of things to consider before you even sit down to complete the application. And, if your goal is to get admittance at some of the best private schools in the country, you need to make sure that you are ready and have a strong background. 

Plan Your Private School Search

From the moment you ask yourself how you get your child into private school until the much-awaited acceptance letter arrives, there is a lot that you need to do. Plan your work and work your plan. A great tool is the Private School Spreadsheet, which is designed to help you keep track of the schools you're interested in, who you need to contact at each school, and the status of your interview and application. Once you have your spreadsheet ready to use and you begin the process, you can use this timeline to stay on track with dates and deadlines. Keep in mind though, that every school's deadlines may vary slightly, so make sure you're aware of all the different deadlines.

Decide if You're Using a Consultant

While most families are able to navigate the private school search themselves, some opt to engage the assistance of an educational consultant. It's important that you find a reputable one, and the best place to determine that is by referencing the IECA website. If you decide to contract with one, make sure that you communicate regularly with your consultant. Your consultant can advise you on ensuring that you choose the right fit school for your child, and can work with you to apply to both reach schools and safe schools.

Visits and Interviews

Visiting schools is critical. You have to see the schools, get a feel for them and make sure they meet your requirements. Part of the visit will be the admissions interview. While the admissions staff will want to interview your child, they may also want to meet with you. Remember: the school does not have to accept your child. So put your best foot forward. Take some time to prepare a list of questions to ask, too, because the interview is also an opportunity for you to assess if the school is right for your child. 


Standardized admissions tests are required by most schools. The SSAT and ISEE are the most common tests. Prepare for these thoroughly. Make sure your child gets lots of practice. Make sure she understands the test, and how it works. Your child will also have to submit a writing sample or essay. Want a great SSAT prep tool? Check out this Guide to the SSAT ebook. 


Pay attention to the applications deadlines which are typically mid-January, though some schools have rolling admissions with no specific deadlines. Most applications are for an entire school year though from time to time a school will accept an applicant in the middle of an academic year. 

Many schools have online applications. Several schools have a common application which saves you lots of time as you only complete one application which is sent to several schools you designate. Don't forget to complete your Parents Financial Statement(PFS) and submit it as well.

Part of the applications process is getting teacher references completed and submitted, so make sure to give your teachers plenty of time to complete those. You will also have to complete a Parent Statement or Questionnaire. Your child will have his own Candidate Statement to fill out as well. Give yourself plenty of time to get these tasks done.


Acceptances are generally sent in mid-March. If your child is wait-listed, don't panic. A place might just open up.

Article edited by Stacy Jagodowski: If you have more questions or need more information about getting into a private school, tweet me or share your comment on Facebook

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Your Citation
Kennedy, Robert. "Private School Admissions Guide." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Kennedy, Robert. (2023, April 5). Private School Admissions Guide. Retrieved from Kennedy, Robert. "Private School Admissions Guide." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 4, 2023).