Students and Families - Blog

Admissions, admissions, admissions!

Spring may be around the corner, but admissions is the topic on many people’s minds this time of year. ¬†This post offers tips and advice for whatever stage of the admissions process you may be at.

The Waiting Game….

Applications are in. Now comes the hard part – waiting to hear from schools. This can be a tough time for families. You want to plan for next year. There are also a lot of questions that can make us anxious as parents – What if my child is rejected? What if his best friend gets in and he does not? What if my child is treated unfairly in the admissions process? The problem with each of these questions is that the answer is not within our control. There is nothing we can do about any of this. Our own anxiety can only function to make our children anxious as well.

There will be many times in their lives when our children will have to put their best foot forward and then just wait for someone else to make a decision. This is an excellent opportunity for you to begin to coach them through how to do this. Their inner dialogue will come to reflect our words, so let them know that it will all be OK. And it will be.

Can My Child Still Apply For Next Year?

Many families come to realize that they need to make a change in their child’s schooling after admissions deadlines have already passed. At this time of year we are frequently asked the question “is it too late?”

The answer is yes and no. A lot depends on why you are looking to change schools. If you have decided that your child needs something more challenging and are looking to get them into an elite independent school then that is not going to happen for next year. Very competitive schools make their decisions once a year. Like most colleges, they have waiting lists and do not accept students on a rolling basis.

However, there are many schools that are still accepting applications. Schools that focus on particular learning needs or nontraditional students often have openings year round. They know that a child who is struggling academically or socially cannot simply wait another year so they often admit students throughout the school year. There are also many very good “traditional” schools that will have an opening midyear for a variety of reasons.

The SSATB maintains a list of the schools accepting students outside of the traditional application window. It can be accessed at www.ssat.org/member-search. On this school search page, there is a pull-down menu on the left under “search filters” for “Schools Currently Considering Applicants (SCCA)”. Choose the option that fits your needs. If you just moved to a new area and need a school NOW, then you would choose Winter/Spring 2014. If you are looking for a school for this coming fall but missed the traditional deadline, choose Fall 2014. We also recommend checking back at this page frequently. Things change for schools and they can’t always anticipate an opening. If you have your heart set on one particular school, then it may or may not happen for the coming year. If you are looking for a quality school with openings, that could very well happen even though the traditional deadlines have passed.

We Are Applying Next Fall – Should My Child Take The ISEE/SSAT This Spring?

The short answer is no. The long answer is also no! In order to apply to independent schools in next year’s admissions season (most applications are due in January), your child should take the SSAT or ISEE in the fall. Students are still learning material in school that will be on the test so we want to give them as much time as possible. When your student should take the test for the first time depends somewhat on which test they will be taking (check with schools your child is interested in to see which test(s) they require).

If students are taking the SSAT, we recommend that they take the test for the first time in November at the earliest. This gives them the opportunity to retake it in December or even sometimes January if they wish. They can also take a flex test, although you should keep in mind that a student can only take a flex test once in a school year.

If students are taking the ISEE, we recommend that they schedule this test later. Students can only take the ISEE one time so you do not need to leave time for a retake. The December test works well so that students have enough time to prepare but then get their scores back in time to have an idea of what schools they should apply to. Nothing is worse than having students fill out complete applications for very competitive schools only to find out that their ISEE scores are not competitive.

So what can you do this spring? Fill in any gaps in his or her academic development. Vocabulary development will help not only with test taking, but also with general reading comprehension. When we start working with students, we also often uncover gaps in students’ math abilities. For example, maybe they don’t really understand fractions but this does not become obvious until they start missing all of the fraction questions during test prep. At this stage, it doesn’t hurt to give your child a practice test at home to identify what some of those areas are. Addressing these issues isn’t about test prep, it is about making sure they prepared for a variety of academic situations including the test they will take next fall.