Considering private school for your child? In today’s guest post, Annie Reece, a Topsfield mom of 3 and the founder of Right Fit Educational Consulting, is sharing what parents need to know before embarking on the application process.
1. Understand the Why
It’s important to start with asking yourself, “What is it that my child needs, that they aren’t getting in their current school?” Perhaps your child needs a smaller and more supportive classroom setting. Maybe they have a newly diagnosed learning difference that could be better addressed at a different school. Maybe your student wants to take it to the next level academically or athletically. The first step in the journey of the private school application is understanding what your child needs and what the vision is for their next school experience.
2. Understand the Options
Once you’re clear on your child’s needs, you can explore which schools might be the best fit. When deciding which schools to look at, here are some things to consider:
- Values: Do the school’s values align with your family’s? Are you willing to consider a religious school?
- Offerings: What schools offer the support or specific programs that will help your child thrive?
- Size: Are the class sizes and overall size of the school conducive to your child’s social and academic needs?
- Location: What will the commute be like and will this contribute to or eliminate stress for the family?
- Boarding or Day School: Is your child ready for boarding school? There are many options if you’re willing to look a little further.
3. Understand the timeline and requirements
This is a general timeline for most private schools, some schools have rolling admission or varying application deadlines and notification dates.
- Spring/Summer: Explore – This is a good time to decide if private school is a route you’re going to explore for your child. Even if you’re not certain it is the path you will go down, it’s better to start exploring in the summer than waiting until fall. Start with a list of appropriate potential schools and visit the websites and social media accounts. Speak with families you know who have children who have attended these schools.
- August: Inquire – Once you have your list of schools, you should complete the inquiry on each school’s website so that you are in their system and expressing interest. Starting inquiries in the late summer will give you time to establish a relationship with the admissions offices, so that they can get to know your child and family as an applicant.
- September – November: Visit – The fall is the time for open houses, interviews and tours. Once you have inquired you will be able to sign up for these events. It is important to get on campus for these events to get a feel for the school, the teachers, and the student body, and to get a sense if the school will be a great fit for your child and family.
- November – January: Apply – Once the late fall hits, you should have a solid list of the schools your child will apply to. For each school, you’ll want to keep track of all of the items needed to complete the application, such as recommendations, transcripts, essays, interviews and in some cases, standardized test scores. Most applications are due in mid-late January.
- March-April: Decide – Most schools will send admissions decisions in March and usually allow you a month to return an enrollment agreement. During that month, your child will be able to revisit the schools where they have been accepted, if they want another look before committing.
4. Understand the financials
There is no denying that private school comes with a hefty price tag. If affording full tuition to a private school does not work for your family’s budget, you can consider the following options:
- Financial Aid: Private schools have a certain amount of money set aside to grant to families that cannot pay tuition in full. These awards are need based. When applying for financial aid, it is important to understand the application and deadlines for each school.
- Merit Based Awards: Some schools may offer scholarship or merit based awards, based on a student’s academic and personal achievements. These are usually school-specific awards. You will want to know if a school offers merit based awards and how to have your child considered.
- 529 Plan: Historically 529 plans could be solely designated to pay for college education. In recent years, however, this has changed and the government will allow up to $10,000 per year of a 529 to be dedicated to a private/independent school education.
Whatever the age or stage of your child, when considering private school, understanding the application process will prepare you to submit a strong and confident application for your child.
About the Author
Annie Reece is an Educational Consultant and founder of Right Fit Educational Consulting. She helps families find middle and high schools that best fit their child, offering guidance and assistance with the application process. Annie has been a teacher, worked in high school admissions, and attended private day and boarding schools as a student. She is a professional member of Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), Small Boarding Schools Association, and Enrollment Management Association. She spends a lot of time touring schools, and meeting and building relationships with admissions offices in order to gain as much school knowledge as she can to best serve her clients. Annie has a B.A. from Colgate University and is a mom of 3 school aged kids, living on the North Shore. When she’s not working or momming, Annie can be found playing ice hockey, digging in her garden, tending her chickens, playing with her puppy, running, hiking or skiing. Find more details on Right Fit Educational Consulting at www.rightfiteducation.com, on Facebook @rightfiteducation and on Instagram @rightfiteducation.