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Private School Acceptances, Wait Lists and Rejections

Private School Acceptances, Wait Lists, and Rejections

By: Mary E. Miele, Founder of The Evolved Education Company, Education Consultant and Learning Specialist K-12

Notification and reply dates for students who have applied to private, independent schools are fast approaching. In the next week or two many families who we have helped with education consultations and/or test preparation will learn about the school’s response to their child’s application.

Notification dates for schools who follow ISAAGNY processes are as follows:

Kindergarten Mail or email on Friday, February 9 Friday, February 16
On-Going Schools
2, 3, 4 year olds only
Mail or email on Wednesday, February 7 Tuesday, March 6
2, 3, 4 year olds Mail or email on Thursday, March 1 Friday, March 9
Grades 1-8 Not before Tuesday, February 6 Tuesday, February 27
Grades 9-12 Not before Thursday, February 15 Thursday, March 15

The following are answers to commonly asked questions regarding this process.

What do I do if I receive more than one acceptance?

If you receive more than one acceptance, you have a decision to make. Perhaps one choice easily stands out as a better fit for your child and family, and this makes the decision easy. Perhaps you need to visit the schools and investigate them further to decide. Be sure to ask for what you need in order to make the decision a good one. If you are in a nursery school, you can ask your director to help you as well.

What if I did not gain admission to our top choice school?

It is a good idea to ask for feedback from the admissions department. You may have to wait a bit to have a meeting or a call, but reach out to the admissions department and ask for feedback. If you are in nursery school, your school director can help you gain this feedback too. It is helpful to understand as much as you can about the decision. This also helps you to learn more about your child and to plan for future school application processes. 

What if I am waitlisted?

Waitlist letters have directions on them, so follow those directions. Be sure to let the school know if you are interested in attending if a seat opens up.

What if I am admitted to one school but waitlisted at another, more desired school?

If you wish to attend the school where you are waitlisted, follow the directions on the wait list letter. You have a decision to make regarding the school where you are admitted. I suggest that you contact the school at which you are admitted and let them know that you are waiting to hear from your waitlisted school. They may give you an extension of a week or two to confirm your acceptance. This route is typically favored by admissions departments because it also allows them to understand your position and help other families who they may admit to come off of their waitlist. You may also decide to accept the admission and make the deposit. It is not politically correct to do so, but if you get into your waitlisted school and decide to pull out of your accepted school, then that is a decision you will make and you will lose your deposit.

What if my child is rejected from his/her/their top choice school or all schools applied to?

First, no  matter the age of your child, handle your own emotions BEFORE you speak to anyone else. You may be disappointed, angry, or confused. It is important to process these emotions, and THEN speak to admissions departments, other parents, school directors, or your child. 

You may want to contact the admissions department to ask for feedback. They may not be able to speak with you right away, but I advise you to make an appointment, even in the future, to gather this information. It is important to do this in a calm, open manner – do not be defensive. Your goal here is not to change their mind, but rather to gather information so that you can understand the reason behind the decision. Perhaps you will learn that your child was one of many qualified individuals and there just were not enough seats.  Or you might learn that your child needed to perform better on standardized testing or with grades. It is always helpful to have the facts, but with or without them, you will need to have a conversation with your child. 

For young children, I would advise to avoid a discussion about rejections. A young child can simply focus on looking forward to attending the school where they will go.

If your child is older and is aware of the admissions process, then you will need to speak with him/her/them. This is especially true if a child will be speaking with friends about school admissions – which tends to happen for students in grade five or eight in NYC.  

When speaking with an older child here are my recommendations (parent can say what is in bold): 

“I have news for you – you did not gain admission into ___ school.”

Be clear and honest with your child about the news. 

“I want you to know that you may have needed to ____, ___ or ____. (get tests scores up, show better, more consistent grades, or interview better) OR this decision could have been the result of the admissions department having had too many applicants and not enough seats. (if you know the answer to why your child was not admitted, you can decide what you want to share with your child – but it is a good idea to share the general reasons why one would be rejected from a particular school).” 

Give your child reasons for rejection – especially communicate that there are some reasons that are in their control (improvements on test scores, grades, interviews) and others that are not in their control (seat numbers, demographics, connections). If you feel your child could have improved test scores, grades, or interviews, it is okay to say so – help your child to own what could be improved for the next school admissions process (or job search later on!).

“Rejection never feels good. I want you to know that we can talk about this, and I’m here to support you.”

Be empathetic and supportive. Name feelings associated with rejection. This is part of life and we want to teach young people how to cope with rejection – not how to excuse it or brush it off. It is okay if your child feels sad or upset. You want to continue to open the lines of communication around this experience for months to come – do not just talk about it once and close the door. Rather, continue to check back in and ask how your child is doing. Push for communication – do not allow your child to avoid, excuse, or not deal with the circumstances. 

“Do you want to talk about how you will talk about this with your friends?” 

If your child is in the 5th grade or 8th grade, the chances are great that his/her/their friends will be speaking about school acceptances. It is important that you help your child with ways to talk about acceptances and rejections. This is true even if your child gained acceptance to top choice schools. As a member of the school community, it is important for your child to be proud, but to also have empathy and awareness that other children may not have gained admission to top choice schools. Give your child a line to use such as, “I’m going to ______. I didn’t get into _____ where I really wanted to go, but I am dealing with that now” or simply, “I’m going to _______ school.”

“Do you have any questions?” 

Allow your child to demystify any confusion that he/she/they may have around the admissions process. Give space for questions and if you don’t know the answers, just say so and try to find the answers together. 

“I want you to know that we have _______ options available for school. Would you like to talk about these options?”

Along with rejection comes placement. Your child will attend school next year. It is important to create optimism and excitement around that placement. If the placement was not your favorite one, it is okay to acknowledge that, but it is also important to find experiences and aspects that are exciting and hopeful within the placement that exists. Your child is looking to you to provide a safe and hopeful picture of the placement that he/she/they have. Be sure to speak positively about the school where your child WILL attend. 

“I want you to know that we (your parents/caretakers/guardians) are going to be sure that you are well taken care of and in a school where you can learn and do well.” 

Be sure to communicate to your child that you have their back – and that you are placing them in a school where you will support them. You might also lay out a plan for future applications. Take what you have learned through this process and apply it to the next one. If your child needed stronger grades and/or test scores, you might work with your child on a plan to meet those goals. 

If you have any other questions about how to handle admissions, wait lists, or rejections, do not hesitate to email me at mary@evolveded.com.