2021: East Bay kindergarten acceptance - public and private


We are navigating the East Bay kindergarten scene for the first time. A few questions in case others have more experience! 

OUSD:  we received waitlist placement from all 6 schools we ranked.  We chose a good mix of how in demand schools are (two top schools, with lower ranking spots, and 4 mid-range/more average rated schools).  We would really prefer not to go to the neighborhood school (only offer we got).  I read an article from OUSD yesterday that over 95% of applicants received their top three schools.  With that kind of stat, did anyone else get 0/6 this year?  Mainly just curious.  But also.., could I have done something wrong/better or just got very statistically unlucky?

Private:  we applied to 5 private schools as well which we will hear about next week. I just read that you can actually get straight declines vs waitlisted. I guess that makes sense, but does anyone know why you would get a full decline for a “normal” 4 year old?  Is that the kind of thing you can ask specifics if it happens?  

in either case, I’m trying not to get my expectations up too high for this year, but would love to get feedback on how to do better next year if we end up with only our neighborhood school as an option. 

All thoughts and feedback would be appreciated!!



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I’m sorry you didn’t get into your choice school. And you spent $$$ and time on school applications! This is crazy making for sure. My spouse who grew up in a small town is often baffled by the school craziness here, as kids in their hometown all went to the same school since there was only one elementary, one middle and one high school choice.

Re: OUSD, it is common not to get into the out of catchment school for the first around. Those who get into a select few coveted schools are very lucky. After the private school decisions are mailed out, spots start opening up at these popular schools because many choose the private option or prefer another OUSD or are waiting to get off of the charter school waitlist. Throughout the summer and into the first 1-3 weeks of school, there is a lot of movement and spots open up. Many kids start at the school they got selected and then move to a different school. In my kid’s TK class, by week 3, 3 kids moved to Monclair, Glenview, and somewhere I don’t know, because they were selected off of the waitlist. For most kids, you get off of the waitlist sometime in late spring / summer before school starts. So, where you are on the waitlist matters. A single digit or low double digit on the waitlist gives you a good chance. Waitlist 300 something will be a long shot. It is also common for kids to move schools after TK or K, so people do keep trying for their choice school. We are moving our 2nd grader to a different school in the fall and movement in lower grades is extremely common. This is a sad reality of Oakland but we remain friends with several kids who are now at different schools in Oakland, Berkeley, Lamorinda, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, which is good because they may be in the same school for middle and high as well as school break camps. 

Especially this year, many parents are trying to maximize options because of Covid. OUSD process is long and the March selection is only the beginning. 

For private schools, I understand luck is also a factor. They try to build a diverse class, so if you have a boy and they need more girls, you have a less chance that year. Most private schools want racial, gender ID, and to the extend possible socio-economic diversity. They also can’t overload a class with kids with special needs. They look at parents and the potential for parent contributions — money, time, connections. Many get accepted and see that they didn’t get financial aid or didn’t get enough so they turn down their acceptance. April and May are the second round of admissions cycle for private schools. So people from waitlists and late applicants do get accepted. We are holding a spot at our zoned OUSD school which is one of the popular schools with a 3 digit waitlist. We will be relinquishing our OUSD spot if we get into our top choice private school. 


What waitlist spots are you? We’ve been on the waitlist 2x in the past 3 years and got what we wanted. I’d call the district office and get their odds on each school.

The reason that number is so high is because most people are ok with their neighborhood school. The privileged few (including me) who weren't interested in our neighborhood school, were left to the waitlist lottery. It depends on where you are on the list whether you'll actually get there or not. (I was 56 at Montclair, and made it down to 20 something by September, and started at 112+ for the rest of the schools, so never stood a chance)

Re OUSD: It is not common to get into a school public other than your neighborhood school right out of the gate. But if you are willing to play the long game and you are low enough on the waitlist you can stay on the list and wait it out. You may have to wait until right before school starts or within the first few weeks of school starting which not everyone has the tolerance for. I have a friend who got a call the Friday before the first day of school in Kindergarten saying that there was a spot open for her child at their first choice OUSD school. By then they had gone the private school route and didn't take it. Another friend enrolled her child at a private school for Kindergarten and about a month into the school year got a spot in a sought after OUSD school and left the private school, presumably forfeiting the tuition. There is also an appeal process where you can get into a different school, I know several people who did this and didn't get their first, second, or even third choice but got a different school that they liked better. I don't know much about the process itself but there is a short time frame in which to appeal so look into it right away.

Re Private: Some private schools just admit or deny. They admit a certain number of students based on their estimation of how many families they think will accept, I think the technical term is the yield. But they obviously have an unofficial waiting list that they will go to if necessary. Other schools will tell you if you are on the wait list. If your child is not accepted there is nothing wrong with them, there are just so many factors involved. Siblings of students already in the school take up a lot of slots, sometimes a ridiculous number of already limited slots. They also have to make the classes diverse. Money is also a factor, some schools have blind admissions, but even so, they can tell a lot about your financial situation just from your application, your zip code, your profession etc... They can't admit too many people who have high financial aid needs.

Thanks all!  We ended up being admitted to two private schools, and waitlisted at a third. 

The OUSD waitlists haven’t shifted at all, except for a few where we dropped lower (I’m guessing families in the neighborhood).  I realize it’s still very early, but I have a feeling people will wait a little longer before relinquishing spots this year.  

I think with all the uncertainty of this year, we will likely go with a private school and try OUSD again next year.