For parents applying their children to private schools, March can’t come soon enough. The last weeks have most likely been filled with anticipation and anxiety; waiting for a phone call this week if your child is an alumna or sibling or if not, for the mail this Saturday. You’ve played out the various possibilities in your mind, “what if he gets into Parish, but not Good Shepherd?” or the nightmare of every parent “what if he doesn’t get in anywhere?”
But March is finally here…..and you’ve received the mail (or email) …..and now you know. Here are five potential scenarios to prepare for and some guidance on what to do for each.
Option #1: Your child gets into your top choice
The best possible news! Congratulations!! Take a minute to breathe a sigh of relief and relax. Then pay close attention to the deadline date the school has given you.
What to do: Be sure to respond with your acceptance, fill out any necessary paperwork, include your deposit, and get it to the school prior to the deadline. If you don’t reply in a timely manner, your child’s spot will almost certainly be given to a child who was waitlisted.
Option #2: Your child gets into multiple schools, and you have to choose
It’s wonderful to have choices…..but it’s difficult to have choices. Spend the next week thinking through the pros and cons of each school. It might help to make lists so you can go back and recall your decision points.
What to do: When spring break is over, contact the schools you are deciding between and ask to observe in the classroom. In my experience, you will have a good feel for what school is best for your child if you sit through a morning or afternoon in the classroom. If you have particular concerns, you may want to visit by phone or in-person with the Admissions Counselor or head of the school to get their opinion of how your child will “fit” into their school.
Option #3: Your child gets into several schools but is wait-listed at your top choice
Though you may be disappointed, this is a good situation to be in. You have options. If you researched your private school options carefully and applied where you felt your child would be successful, then your decision should be easy. Responding “yes” to the acceptance is a no-brainer. You have the choice of waiting to hear from the school where your child is wait-listed, which is a gamble.
What to do: It’s a wiser decision to accept admission to a school where your child has been accepted. Remember – a bird in the hand…. There are no guarantees of admission when you are wait-listed. It is safer to put a deposit down where you have a spot and consider forfeiting the deposit if you get in at the top choice later.
Option #4: You received NO acceptances but are on several waitlists
Don’t panic! It isn’t the end of the world, but it is time to re-strategize.
What to do: Call the school(s) where your child was wait-listed and let them know of your continued interest and that you would be very pleased to have your child accepted to their school. Do not make repeated calls and pester the admissions people. You risk annoying them which could jeopardize your chance to come off the waitlist. Realize that there is a lot of movement in the weeks after letters are mailed out as families make their decisions and spots open up. The days of waiting will be stressful but may end up paying off.
Option #5: Your child was rejected at all the schools you applied to
What to do: First, breathe. Go somewhere where you can be alone. Many mothers I know have cried upon receiving bad news – it is normal. However, if at all possible, cry, yell, or hit your pillow in private. It is best to approach your child with the news when you are less emotional, so they don’t feel like they have failed you.
Once you are past the emotion, get into high gear. You need a plan. Start by looking at smaller schools that have rolling admissions, magnet or charter schools in your district, and your local public school. Sometimes districts will allow parents to petition to attend another public school in their district that is outside the boundary lines. Start the visit and application process as quickly as you can. Another option: This may sound extreme, but some parents will consider distance learning (online school), homeschooling, or finding a tutor to work with their child.
NET NET: Just remember as you open your letters this weekend, that everything will be OK in the end. There are many schools where your child can learn and thrive. If you don’t get the acceptances you are hoping for, make an appointment with the admissions counselor and listen to what they have to say. Your child may be a good candidate for their school, they just may not have had enough spots. You may be encouraged to try again next year. Or maybe it isn’t the best place for your child, and you need to look elsewhere. Either way, don’t forget that your child’s future will not be determined by where they go to school next year. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for assistance.
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