Families who are considering application to a new school for a son or daughter often ask how long the process will take. The answer, in simplest terms, is that the more competitive the school, the more preparation time will be involved.
Many parochial, independent day, and boarding schools have application deadlines each year and standard decision dates on which they announce most acceptances for the following term. There are exceptions, of course, and special circumstances that may alter the game plan for some applicants. A few guidelines on when to get started in the admissions process might be useful.
Students with academic issues may need to address those deficits before applying to a competitive school or college – sometimes a full scholastic year or more before.
Strong students should plan to begin the process more than one year ahead, when possible, but not later than the early fall of the year prior to expected entry – to give time for campus visits, interview, or gearing up curriculum and performance.
In communities with strong independent schools, it is often recommended that preliminary applications be filed years before expected enrollment.
In cases of a family move during a school year, even at “the last minute,” it never hurts to contact a school of choice. Openings can occur, and schools generally want to accommodate viable applicants in every way possible – even in the late summer.
When financial aid is involved in the decision, a longer lead time is required. All schools function with financial aid budgets, and awards are often made by committee once each school year (with aid awards for returning students handled first.)
Some schools rely on a waiting list in an effort to serve the greatest number of qualified candidates. The wait could be for any opening, an opening that is gender-specific, a sports-related or other special status list, or for financial aid availability.
When issues related to a candidacy become complex, the help of a qualified educational consultant can be critically important, often saving time, unnecessary effort, and resources.