The letters have been mailed and, if you’re lucky, you now know where your child will go to school next year. You can put the decal on your car, put the new-student social on your calendar, and thank the heavens that it’s all over. That is…..unless your child is on the waiting list. I’m getting a lot of questions about what it means to be on the waiting list at various schools – what you should do, who you should tell, what to tell your child, etc. There are no easy answers in this situation, but hopefully I can help clear some things up for you.
Speaking to the Admissions Office
It’s a tough week to be an admissions counselor. Their offices are filled with parents whose children were rejected, and their phones are ringing off the hook. What should you do? If you haven’t already done so, fax or mail in the form that asks you if you want to keep your child on the waiting list. Next, you have two choices. You can make an appointment to meet with the admissions counselor or phone the admissions office, leave a message, and let them know that you would like to speak directly with the admissions counselor. Either option is fine. What’s most important is to convey how interested you are in the school for your child and how eager you are to get a spot. If your child is on the waiting list, he has already met (or exceeded) the admissions requirements and has been accepted…..but just doesn’t have a place yet. It is fine to ask the admissions counselor where your child is on the waiting list, how many candidates from the waiting list are typically given spots (understanding that there are no guarantees and that every year is different), when spots typically open up, how long they keep the waiting list, and if being on the waitlist gives your child any edge if he applies the next year.
Who to Tell
Who you decide to tell is a personal decision. If your child is at a school that ends at the end of his grade, then everyone is in the same boat. Expect a lot of discussion about schools from now until the end of May. That’s just human nature. In situations like this, sometimes it’s better to be open than make yourself fodder for the gossip mill by being secretive. If this is not the case, and your child is leaving a school, then this is a different matter. You may want to keep it quiet until closer to the end of the school year, but it’s up to you.
What to Tell Your Child
Again, this depends on your child’s current school situation and their age. For a younger child, it’s probably better to tell them “you’ll either be going to Meadowbrook or St. John’s” knowing that at this age they are just focused on the present and don’t have a clear understanding of what attending either of these schools means. An older child will have a great awareness of the situation and will have invested some of their time at a school visit, taking the ISEE test, and writing answers to questions on the admissions form. It’s best, to be honest, explain that they have been accepted to the school, and let them know that they just have to be patient and hopefully there will be a place for them.
Most parents say that being on the waiting list is tougher than a rejection. You’re forced to live with uncertainty and make difficult decisions about schooling that could easily change. Stay hopeful, stay busy, and the time will pass more quickly!
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