Did you know that January is the most important month in the private school admission calendar? Though September feels far away, now’s the time to think about what school will be the best fit for your child, whether your child is starting school for the first time in kindergarten or considering a change of schools for the next grade. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
January 15 is the deadline.
At most private schools, the deadline for admission applications and applications for financial aid is on or around January 15, so January is a key time to visit schools and complete applications. If you’re just beginning to consider a private school option, don’t panic—it’s not too late! Contact the school’s admission office as soon as possible, and they will help you get the ball rolling. “We’re always happy to help families get up to speed,” says Beth Whitney, Fay’s Director of Admission, “We know how to streamline the process so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming.”
Don’t let cost be a dealbreaker.
The tuition page on a school’s web page might seem intimidating, but remember that most schools offer financial aid. And if you’re wondering whether you might be eligible for aid, then you probably are! Schools like Fay are eager to enroll students from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, and even families who may consider themselves “comfortable” are often eligible for some aid—especially if there are two or more children attending an independent school. Financial aid grants can range anywhere from 5% – 95% of tuition. As you begin the process, don’t be afraid to contact the school’s financial aid director directly with your own questions—these experts understand that every family’s situation is unique. “Around 25% of students at independent schools receive some degree of financial assistance, so rest assured that you are not alone in embarking on this process!” says Susan Mantilla-Goin, Fay’s Associate Director of Admissions and Director of Financial Aid.
Ask: What’s included?
Speaking of tuition, take a close look at that number and ask: what’s included? If you’re looking at two schools, remember that you might not be comparing apples to apples. Some schools add fees on top of tuition to cover additional parts of the program. Other schools, like Fay, have a “no fees” approach and offer comprehensive tuition that includes everything, such as meals, athletic gear, and school trips.
See for yourself.
Private school admission offices are in high gear during the month of January, and they are eager to have you come visit. Take advantage of the opportunity to spend a morning at any school that you are considering. Like Fay, many schools host classroom visit days where you and your child can sit in on classes and see for yourself what a typical day feels like. In addition to a tour, these events can help students imagine what it would feel like to be a student at a given school.
Talk to another parent.
Use your network! See if you can find a few parents in your local network who send their child to the school that you’re considering. Ask for their honest input and for the reasons why they chose private school for their child. If you don’t know who to talk to, reach out to the school’s Admission Office—most schools have parent ambassadors who are happy to answer your questions and offer their perspectives. Conversations with these parents can be a great way to assess whether the school community will be a good fit for your whole family—plus, you may even be able to line up some new friends to carpool with in the fall!