Prep School Admission Decision Letters Have Arrived…Now What?

Prep School Admission Decision Letters Have Arrived…Now What?
Sarah Powers, Dean of Enrollment

How the choose the right private high school

The tables have turned. After months of worrying about whether your child will be admitted to the private high schools to which they have applied, now you know where they are admitted. Your worry is now how to choose the right school! Below are some common scenarios our admission office hears from admitted families and our thoughts on how to navigate the decision that your family faces.

Our child is deciding between staying at our public school and going to private school. We want them to go to private school, but they are nervous about leaving their friends.

This is a common concern. Consider sitting down and talking about the reasons why your child wanted to look at private high schools in the first place. This allows for a pragmatic and productive conversation about their—and your—goals for their high school years and what school can help them achieve those goals.

We are thrilled that our child is admitted, but we cannot afford the tuition.

Many schools offer need-based financial aid, and perhaps you filled out their financial aid form. If you did not receive a financial aid decision letter, reach out to the school’s director of financial aid to see when you can expect to receive that letter. If you received your financial aid grant, and it still does not make the tuition payments affordable, give the director of financial aid a call as soon as possible. Likely, they will ask you some questions to make sure there wasn’t any information excluded from your application that would have been important for the school to know.

Our child is fortunate to have many options, but paralysis has set in. How do we make a decision?

More than one offer of admission can be daunting! Find some quiet time to create a pros and cons list for each school. Out of that exercise may come questions you or your child have for each school. Also, many of the schools have campus re-visit days for accepted students. Be sure to take advantage of these opportunities and prepare a list of questions you are eager to have answered by the schools’ faculty, administrators, parents or students. If there is a person in particular you would like to meet during the visit day, be sure to reach out in advance and ask whether they might be available to talk. After visiting campuses again, hopefully you will know more about each school. Don’t underestimate the “gut” feeling your child has about a specific school!

Our child was admitted to some great schools, but waitlisted at their first choice.

The unknown of being placed on the waiting list, or in a waiting pool, can be stressful. Reach out to the admission office to schedule a time to talk about the decision, the possible timetable, any insights into the reason for the waitlist decision, and when it would be appropriate to reach out again. If the school is your child’s first choice, and you would accept an offer of admission, articulate that sentiment, but only if it is genuine. 

When I mention asking an admission office for any insight, know that for many schools it is a very competitive admission pool and they may not have much to say about the decision. Some schools, like Governor’s, have limited financial aid budgets. Those schools may place students who are admissible and have demonstrated need for financial aid, but are not offered a financial aid grant, in the waiting pool. Knowing whether your child was placed in the waiting pool for financial aid reasons can be helpful information.

Don’t be discouraged if you do not get an immediate response. Admission offices receive many calls and emails at this time of year, and it can take a few days for a person to reply.

How do we know, for certain, a school is the right choice?

As perfect as you think a school is, students inevitably have their “ups” and “downs” as they settle into a new school. As a parent, you can continue to think critically about your child’s needs as a student and your hopes for how they will acclimate to a new environment. Create a list of questions and either bring them the school’s revisit day or set up a time to chat with an admission representative. For the applicant who is wondering, go back to campus when students are there to get a feel for the school, connect with faculty, staff, dorm parents, coaches or program directors whom you know you would be in contact with your first year, follow the social media and talk to some current students who may be having a path similar to the one you anticipate following (i.e. if you love robotics, connect with someone on the robotics team.) 

Good luck during this exciting time for your family!


Author: Sarah Powers, Dean of Enrollment

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