What to Expect When Applying to NYC Private Schools

Birthing the Perfect Kindergarten Application

Avoid the frantic rush to finish last minute applications and prevent making a mess of the Admissions Process


In previous years, I have helped clients whose child was admitted to Dalton and Brearley, top private schools in New York City, choose which school to enroll their child. Having fabulous independent school choices requires preparing 9 months in advance.  Just as healthy babies don’t appear overnight, robust Kindergarten applications don’t appear overnight. Preparing for admission is a long process and schools don’t accept FedExed applications. Many successful parents in New York City have graduated from top Liberal Arts colleges and Ivy League universities, but have forgotten how much time and effort it took to achieve that goal.  This is not a  D-I-Y (Do-It-Yourself situation), the smartest people ask for help early on. Call in the experts. People hire specialists for everything, be it an orthopedic surgeon  or a Private School Admissions Consultant. Think back to the spring of your Junior year. As a student preparing to apply for college, you may have spent more than a year…

  • Studying for the SATs
  • Developing a portfolio (an athletic highlight reel, exhibited artwork, or articles published in the school newspaper)
  • Becoming a leader of extracurricular activities
  • Becoming a captain of sports teams
  • Developing relationships with teachers for faculty recommendations
  • Writing your college essay

After years of being taught at home, Emily was well enough to attend high school for her junior and senior years. Enthusiastic and bright, she graduated in the top 10 in her class at Burncoat High in Worcester. In the spring of 2004, Emily received an acceptance letter from Harvard University.Applications to selective New York City independent schools for Kindergarten are no different than college. As a parent preparing applications, you should spend 9 months or 40 weeks…

Acing the Private School Admissions Process

  • Researching  NYC Private Schools
  • Going on NYC Private School Tours and Open Houses
  • Preparing for Standardized Tests
  • Nurturing your school relationships for positive Teacher  and School Recommendations
  • Writing and Editing Parent Essays
  • Preparing for Child Interviews
  • Preparing for Parent Interviews
  • Choosing a photograph of your child

That’s a lot of components to try to organize at the last minute, especially for eight to ten schools.  For instance, the recommended number and type of schools to apply to for Private School admission is 3 to 4 Reach schools, 3 Matches or Targets and at least 2 Safeties.

A man crossing off dates to stick to a goal.40 Weeks ‘til Acceptance Letters

Week 1: Don’t wait until the Fall; Call and Reserve a Spring Tour

1) Don’t wait to begin the Independent School admissions process in the Fall of the year you are applying. Reservations for Spring Tours open March 1st at some schools, for the following school year. Be prepared to call on March 1st at 9am to reserve a spot for a tour.

Week 5: Prepare for the Standardized Test

2) Develop a plan for a combination of tutoring, field trips and working with your child on a weekly basis before the test. One of the free resources our subscribers receive are a list of recommended toys, games, and picture books based on neighborhood field trips that make preparation for Standardized Tests fun and enjoyable instead of rote workbooks.

Week 15: Crafting the Essay

3) Don’t pull an all-nighter over Labor Day Weekend to finish Kindergarten applications. Writing essays the night before applications are due is a huge no-no. Your output will obviously be compromised. Some schools have more applicants than interview spots. Interview spots are given in order of applications received. A few independent schools open their Kindergarten applications during the summer, some don’t open until after Labor Day. Subscribers to our newsletter will receive a newsletter announcing of the opening of applications.

Week 26: Interview Preparation

4) Prepare for the Child Interview.

  • Explain what it means to be cooperative and friendly:
  • They must listen and respond to directions like, “time to clean up,” the first time and take turns as directed.
  • They must answer questions completely by speaking up with full sentences.  The Interview is not the time to be shy.
  • Tell your child these are good strangers at schools that they can talk to freely and tell them about his school and family.  Your child must separate easily from you.
  • Some children respond well to “bribery” and a promise of a special treat.  That’s fine only, if you do not have to remind them at the new school.  Otherwise try not to make the interviews a chore.  Say it will be fun to try something new and meet new children.

5) Prepare for the Parent Interview. When you arrive at a school, take a photo of the outside and turn your phone off. It doesn’t matter how important your clients or boss are, give the admissions officer your undivided attention. Your child takes precedent during this hour. The admissions officers are well aware of who is completely present at an interview and who isn’t. Remember that you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you, so be yourself and feel free to ask thoughtful questions not answered on the web site. Children sense stress and will reflect it, so relax and enjoy the time meeting new people and seeing schools with a fresh eye.

Unfortunately, during the last few weeks I have received panicked phone calls from families that were not clients and regretted that they had not found me sooner. They were wait listed (the wait list has almost been eliminated because of the shortened response timeline) or rejected from every school and there was nothing I could do to help them. You can avoid all that and do this calmly by planning in advance. My clients avoid the frantic rush to finish last minute applications and calmly go through the process with little worry. If you want to be sure not to miss any deadlines sign up for our newsletter to receive more information about school deadlines and free resources for the Private School Admissions process!

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