When the responses from schools do start coming in it can go one of many ways, of course. Parents should be careful not to personalize any disappointment if their child doesn't get accepted. "I think one of the realities is that some schools just get way more applications than they have spots for, and we need to assure a child that it's not their fault, that they're not to blame, that they're not disappointing us," Winberg says. "And it's important for a parent not to badmouth the current school, because if the child has to stay at the current school they won't have gained anything by the parent having told them what a bad school it is."
In a lot of cases, there's also the chance - if a child didn't get in this time around — that there will be other opportunities to apply again, adds Kenny. "Young students who are applying are constantly changing and developing," she says. "They might just need a little bit of time."
On the other hand, getting accepted can come with stresses too. Some independent schools in specific areas will often coordinate their responses together so that parents can make an informed choice knowing where their child stands with all of the schools they've applied to. But there can be cases too where they might still be waiting to hear back from their school of choice, uncertain what to do with the acceptances in hand until they know where the preferred school stands.
Even though deadlines may be looming and schools are waiting for your response, Winberg says not to panic if that happens to you. A simple phone call to the school you've already heard from could do the trick. "Just pick up the phone and say 'here's the situation — I really just need a little time,'" she says.
So you've got the offer and you've accepted it. What's next?
Make sure you know the deadlines for fees, Winberg suggests. Other than that, Kenny adds, just relax and get to know your child's new school better. Some schools—like Upper Canada College—host days meant to do just that for new students, where the children can get to know the peers they'll be sharing the classroom with come September, and where parents can get more comfortable with the school themselves.
If your school doesn't offer events like those, then you can help your child get to know the school better. "If the child is really excited, then great," Winberg adds. "If the child is nervous about it perhaps you can get the names of other children that are going, arrange for your kids to meet. Take your kids there during the summer, let them walk around and feel comfortable. If they have a summer camp, maybe you could think of enrolling them there."
Other than that, it's just a matter of waiting for September to arrive and for the experience to begin.
This is the conclusion of a five part examination of Applying to Private Schools. See also:
— Lisa Van de Ven