Not Accepted at Preschools We Applied To

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Rejection letter from our first choice preschool

March 2008


Please tell me I'm being ridiculous. Or that everything will be ok. We just received a rejection letter for our first choice of preschool. At their initial orientation, they said that we were already ahead of the game by starting so early. I just figured I had to jump through the hoops. Which I did--two more visits to the school,one with my daughter in tow. She did great-- happy, social, played with their toys, didn't mind being away from Mom, etc. I didn't mention at the time that she is also multilingual, biracial, bicultural, and is practically reading at 2 1/2. Nobody asked, and why would I talk about such things, it's preschool, why would that matter. Oh, I'm also a well-paid professional, an easy-going parent, a community volunteer, and pay my bills on time. I also forked up hundreds of dollars to review the school, counting the time I had to take off work and forfeit income to go to the school, the gas, the application fee.... I am a single Mom--maybe that was a problem to them. So why did we get a rejection letter? I don't get it. Of course there is the vague explanation of the citeria: ''mostly'' age, gender, and availability and there just wasn't a spot for your child. I'm on wait lists, but otherwise don't have any options for my kid at this point. I really feel like I've let my daughter down terribly. Can anyone tell me about their preschool that they like that didn't require such judgment and hoop-jumping?
--''Selective'' isn't a compliment in my world.

You wouldn't think getting into nursery school would be like getting into a top college, would you? But that's what it felt like to us when my son was rejected at one of the preschools we applied to and waitlisted at the other three! We hadn't thought we'd need to apply to more than four! Like you, we were diligent in researching and applying, and there's nothing wrong with our kid. Some of the schools didn't take him because they had too many boys that year; one of them filled most of its class with younger siblings. We ended up applying to, and being accepted at, a preschool we hadn't considered originally, mostly because it required kids to be potty-trained when they started and our son hadn't shown a lot of promise in that arena. (As it turned out, having a deadline to get him trained was the best thing that could have happened--it was much faster and easier than we'd expected!) We ended up loving that preschool and being so glad that he didn't get into our original choices!

Anyway, don't give up hope. There are lots of good preschools in the Berkeley area, and not all of them are oversubscribed. I really don't think being a single mom would count against you (and if it did, would you want to be part of that school community anyway?). Good luck! Glad my son was a ''reject''

Everything will be okay.

It's been quite a while (7 years) since we went through the preschool process and the landscape may have changed, but for what it's worth:

When it came time to find a preschool for my daughter, I refused to even look at any ''selective'' schools. I ruled out schools that wanted me to pay for a tour, or tell me what kind of diapers I'd have to use if my kid was still in diapers when she started, etc.

We ended up placing our daughter at Beth El preschool in Berkeley. We're not Jewish, and it wouldn't have occurred to me to consider it if a Jewish friend who had her kids there hadn't urged me to. Our daughter (and her parents) had three _wonderful_ years there in the classroom, on the playground, and the many birthday parties and holiday celebrations where the whole community came together. Now our daughter sees many of her preschool friends every summer at Camp Kee Tov and we still have friends we met there. The Jewish education part of the curriculum was wonderfully enriching even though it wasn't our faith. (I came to look forward to the weekly Friday Shabbat, where we sang and shared challah made by the kids.) There was also great extended day care which we used four days a week.

I can't speak to the current situation at Beth El. I know preference is given to synagogue members, and I'm sure that _some_ sizing up of the parents and kids goes on, but ''applying'' there didn't feel at all like being judged or jumping through hoops. There were single-parent families, gay families, adoptive families, bi-racial kids, bi- (and tri-) lingual families. If it makes geographical sense, check them out. Or look at other community schools.

Don't despair. There are lots of wonderful preschool communities out there that would welcome you and your daughter. Good luck! Rosemary

If your child is under 3, try Berkeley Hills Nursery School. There were opening last week in the younger childrens program. Our son has been going for 2 1/2 plus years. We love this school and the community is great. I don't think you will get the attitude I have seen at other preschools and that you just encountered. Good luck. Jennifer

Everything will be ok. Don't take it so personally that your child was rejected. Preschools in the Bay Area are very hard to get into. Almost all of them have waitlist. They all use various methods to decide which child gets into their school. Often it's just a lottery system. And even if you try to get in under ''diversity'' catagory, they still have to do a lottery because there are so many diverse/interesting families in the Bay Area.

All parents have to take time off work, pay non-refundable appl. fees and jump through all the hoops just to apply to preschools. You have to expect to get rejected. It's just the way it is. That's why families apply to multiple schools just in case.

Keep going and don't let it get you so down! It's really not that big of a deal. Leslie

I would recommend you apply to a couple of other pre-schools and get on wait-lists. I suspect that you applied to a pre- school that has an elementary school component, which is a bit different than a pre-school that has no such component. My son got into a great pre-school without an elementary school component, but only by sheer determination and flexibility on my part. I kept calling regularly, and took a spot as soon as it was offered. With regard to the selection process of some pre-schools/private elementary schools: who really knows what goes through their minds, when the selection committee does their evaluation. I certainly hope that no inappropriate considerations are put into the mix! My son was put on a wait- list for a private school with a pre-school/elementary school component, and I have filed it away - my son's first rejection letter! Yipee!

I would suggest you just keep plugging away and keep positive. There are a bunch of great pre-schools out there that have great administrators, parents, and kids. I would also suggest you head over to 1515 Clay Street, 11th Floor, Oakland, and check the licensing files of any pre-school you are thinking of sending your daughter to, since pretty veneers don't always equate to safe environments.


We applied to 4 preschools, weren't accepted to any

April 2004


We applied to four Berkeley preschools in (we thought) plenty of time for admission next September, when my son will be three. (We applied to our top choice a year ago, when he was only 1-1/2!) We have now gotten one rejection letter, two wait lists, and one has not replied but we gather we are not on the ''A'' list.

We are very disheartened and not sure what to do next. I will keep calling the wait-listed schools, and hopefully we'll get into one of them, but I guess we need to look for alternatives. Does anyone have any useful suggestions on what to say to them? ''My son didn't get into any of the preschools we applied to, so we're hoping you'll be our safety school, although of course we'll abandon you if one of our top choices lets us in'' doesn't strike quite the right note.

Specific suggestions of Berkeley preschools that offer the option of full days (9:30-5) and that are looking for boys would be welcome, as well as general strategic advice. Rejected and dejected

Because of the minimal compensation, long hours, and lack of respect for grownups who work with kids, there are never enough high quality places to serve all the kids that need/want care, particularly in more urban areas. Please remember too that this is your opportunity to practice skills you will need later--patience, humility, and a sense of humor about the whole process. After this comes getting a spot in a kindergarten, middle school, high school, and then college so it's best not to obsess about where your kid will be, which teacher they will get, etc. I've seen parents really go nuts about this.

Try not to be discouraged and please don't take it personally. When we were looking in Berkeley for infant care many years ago, this happened to me. I knew which date I needed to return to work and I was starting to panic about not having a place for my son because we were wait listed several places.

Also, caregivers can spot an obsessive/compulsive parent a mile away so try not to call to often to see where you are on the list. Think of it as a job search. It's a numbers game and the more places you apply to, the more chance you have of getting in somewhere. You are also beginning to cultivate a positive relationship with the 3-4 places where your child may attend so be respectful and courteous to the people who work there (but don't grovel).

There are a lot of nurturing, kind people who work with kids and many fine preschools. Trust me, no place is perfect. They all have good and bad points (even the ones everyone is dying to get into).

BTW, we did eventually get a spot just before I had to go back to work and it worked out fine but it was stressful playing the waiting game. anon

We were in the same position last year--except that we got rejected or wait-listed at six preschools! It was so very frustrating. How old is your son? you say he'll be 3 in September--is that the month of his birthday, or will he have turned 3 earlier in the year? I ask because in my experience, preschools first fill up with kids who turn 3 earlier in the year. If he is just turning 3 in Sept., you may need to widen your search and include schools that have toddler programs, or even consider a 2- year-old program.

Next, take heart. Lots of changes occur over the summer. Lots. People move away, change their minds, get into their first choice schools. So places do crop up over the summer. Keep calling, keep friendly, and don't give up.

Finally, we ended up in a school I had not looked into on my first round of preschool searching, and we absolutely love it! It was almost accidental how we ended up there, but it could not be a better place for my son. He is blooming. What I mean to say is that your first choice may be great, but there are lots of great schools in Berkeley, and it's worth looking into some that were originally furtherr down your list. You may find a great match where you did not expect to find it. Good luck to you. Carolyn

Last year I didn't get my son into any of the preschools that I wanted. I was a bit frantic over the summer. I called all the wait-list places about every 3 weeks, and applied late to as many places as I could. I even applied to some I had not toured - I got on wait lists with the understanding that I would tour and decide if I was called. Most places didn't charge an application fee in that situation. The strategy worked, I got into a great school that I hadn't applied to in the first round. I also expanded my geographic area in the process. I received FIVE offers of spots in the two weeks before school started -- including my first choice which I rejected! I'm sure you'll find a program. Good luck. Been there

Have you tried Beth El Nursery School at Vine and Arch? I know they have openings in the 4 yr old class, but I'm not sure about the 3 year old class (and the 2 year old class is definitely full). It's a great school, my daughter is in her 3rd year and we love the teachers and curriculum. Good luck!