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Admission and application

Private school admissions

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The admissions process for private schools begins long before your child reaches school age, of course. If you are among the most diligent of parents, you may even begin the private school application process before you are pregnant. While that may sound a bit extreme to some, parents who begin the process too late may end up left out in the cold. In any case, here is an overview of how to apply for private school - and get into the school that is best for your child.

(This page is actually an adaptation of our in-depth discussion of the five steps to applying for private school. There is also a downloadable pdf covering all aspects of getting admitted into the perfect private school for you.)

Before you even consider applying to a private school

There are a lot of considerations that go into this but a handful of factors are critical. The first and foremost is always to focus on fit. Along with private schools, we caution very strongly against notions of finding "top private schools" or the schools with the highest number of graduates to universities, etc. While a factor like that can have importance, it is best to know, understand and give top priority to the needs of your child. Focus on your child's personality, his or her learning strengths and weaknesses and your family's goals and values. Of course, there's no denying that budget will be a high priority for many people. Once you have decided on the importance of other factors such as location, gender (boys, girls or coed) and class or school size, you are ready to investigate schools.

Start your search early, pay attention to word of mouth (as a precursor to your own full investigation, of course) and begin by researching private schools online. (With events listings, step-by-step advice, detailed school listings and over 200 articles dating back ten years, our site is certainly one of the most highly regarded sources of information on private schools in Canada). Contact a short list of schools you are interested in, attend private school open houses and then begin applying to private schools.

Before you head out to the private schools, check out our school visit checklist, which also has a printable version of questions parents should ask.

Private school applications

With your first hand knowledge of schools, narrow down your choices to a shot list - let's say, approximately five private schools. Do not pin all your hope on one or two schools. As you submit applications to private schools, bear in mind that earlier is always better: some schools have enrollment set early in the spring.

Some pointers for the application process:

  • A number of private schools set specific entrance years.
  • Depending on the age of your child, an entrance exam may be expected. Don't stress out your child about this, of course.
  • Focus and refocus on your child's needs.
  • Be honest and reasonable about your child's academic abilities.

Schools are also focused on 'fit,' so think of this as kind of like applying for a job. Schools are also looking for honesty and they want to be sure that your child wants to attend their school, also.

In the end, you will have to wait to hear back from the schools. Be prepared to be surprised by which private school accepts your application and which school turns down your application.

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