Private School Application Deadlines

private school admission timeline

Attending private school requires a formal application, a process that can actually take months to complete. Here's an application process timeline that takes you through all the components of applying to private school. It's important to remember that this is a guideline, and you always need to work directly with the schools you're applying to in order to make sure that your application is complete and submitted on time. 


The summer is a great time to start researching private schools and deciding where you want to apply. If you're uncertain about the type of school you want to attend, start by considering day schools or boarding schools. Consider whether you want to stay close to home. Knowing the answer will set you off on a great start for applying. If you're focusing on day schools, you are going to have a more limited selection of schools to apply to than if you're launching a nation-wide (or even global) search for a boarding school. Using a handy Private School Spreadsheet, like this one, can help you organize your search. 


This is a great time to begin inquiring at the schools you're interested in. Submitting an inquiry, most often done online, is a great way to get additional information on schools and start talking to an admission officer. Don't worry—inquiring doesn't mean you have to apply. This is your chance to learn more and decide if the schools on your list are the right fit for you. 

This is also a good time to start thinking about the standardized tests that may be required for applying to private schools, such as the SSAT. You need to book your testing date in advance of the admission deadlines, so it is a great idea to book it now so you don't forget, even if you aren't going to take it for another month or two. If possible, schedule the test for October or November rather than waiting until closer to the application deadlines. That way, if you don't do as well as you had hoped when you take the test the first time, booking it early means you have enough time to take it again before the winter deadlines. 


This month is typically when schools start offering Open House events, which can give you a chance to visit the school, sit in on classes, and more. Open Houses give a glimpse into daily life at the school. If you can't make an Open House, book a private visit to the school during which you'll likely receive a campus tour, often led by a student, and meet with an admission officer to conduct your admissions interview. Before you go to your campus tour and interview, be sure to prepare and think about the first impression you're going to make on the school. It's important to be prepared to answer questions and ask them during your interview. 

If you didn't already book the SSAT, be sure to do so now before you forget. 

As you're talking to the schools you're considering, ask if they offer rolling admission or have strict application deadlines, and see if they accept the standard application. Not all schools accept these general applications, so it's important to know in advance if you're going to need to complete multiple forms to apply. 


November is a great month to really start working on your official application. There's a questionnaire for students to complete, an essay you need to write, a portion for parents to fill out, transcript requests, and teacher recommendations. Be sure to ask your school and your teachers in advance for their portions of the application and give them plenty of time to complete them. 

The student application and admission essay are both a great opportunity for you to showcase your writing skills and to show why you're a great candidate for the school. Make sure you take your time and work hard on these portions. 

Parents also need to spend time on their sections, and be sure to include detail in their answers. 


This is the time of year that private schools start getting really busy with applications, so getting yours in early can ease some of your worry as deadlines start looming. As you start wrapping up the year, it's also time to think about whether you will be applying for financial aid. Some schools even have application deadlines in December, so make sure you're clear on what the schools require and when. This is typically your last chance to book an appointment for a visit and interview before the deadlines. Be sure to do so before the winter break.


Most private schools, especially independent schools (what's the difference? find out), have application deadlines in either January or February. That means all components of your application, including any financial aid applications, need to be complete. Financial aid is limited, and applicants in the first round of admission decisions are more likely to receive funding than those families who wait to apply. Even if you're not sure if you qualify, you can still complete the application. Make sure to follow up with the school, either by phone call or by logging into your online admission portal, to check that all components of your application are complete, including any fees that need to be paid. 


This is the month when first-round applicants who made the January or February deadlines can expect to receive their admission decisions. A common date for notifications from independent schools in March 10, and students can often log into an online portal to receive a decision instantly rather than having to wait for something to come in the mail. Typically students will be accepted, denied admission, or waitlisted when they hear back. If you don't hear back, follow up with the school quickly to see if there was an issue with your application or if something got lost in the mail. 


Private schools typically allow families a month to consider their options - many students apply to several schools, and if they are lucky enough to be accepted at more than one school, they may need to compare schools and decide where to enroll. April 10 is a fairly standard deadline for independent schools to require families to enroll or decline offers of admission, but be sure to check with your admission office to find out for certain.

If you are accepted to a school and are trying to make your decision on where to go, you may discover that schools are inviting you to an event known as Revisit Day or Welcome Day. This is another chance to return to the school and get an idea of what life is like there to help you make your decision on whether or not you can see yourself that the school. 

Students who received waitlisted notifications in March may start hearing back from schools as early as April as to whether or not any spaces have opened up as a result of other candidates deciding to decline offers of admission in favor of another school. Note that all students who were waitlisted will hear back in April; some waitlists can extend into the summer even. Whether you are accepted or waitlisted, as soon as you decide to enroll at one school, it's crucial that you notify the others of your decision not to attend.


By now, hopefully, you have chosen your school and completed your enrollment agreement. Congratulations! Revisit Days can also take place in May, so don't worry if there wasn't one in April. Depending on the school, May can be a quiet month for newly enrolled students, as it's the end of the year for current students. With graduation ceremonies, award events, and end of year festivities, schools can be rather busy. However, some schools will start sending you information about the coming year and the forms you'll need to complete over the summer. 


Over the summer, you typically will receive a number of forms to complete, including health forms, class selections, dorm surveys (if you're going to a boarding school), and more. Make sure to pay attention to the dates and deadlines, as some forms are required by law in order for you to start school in the fall. Showing up without them can be a major problem. Don't wait until the last minute.

You'll likely also have summer reading and potentially worksheets and other assignments to complete for classes. There may also be a list of supplies you need, including technology and books, so make sure to get your back to school shopping done early. If you're heading to boarding school, it's important to not only pay attention to what you need to bring, but also what you shouldn't bring to boarding school


It's time to finish up your summer assignments and back to school shopping, because many private schools start pre-season practices for students playing varsity sports in August, and some schools event start classes in August.