Waiting Lists at Private School

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Private high school wait list--sadness

April 2011


Our daughter was put on the waiting list for the private high schools she applied to. We are so sad she didn't get in and she seemed to us so qualified. Who did get in we wonder, and what could we have done better to have improved her chances? anon

As the parent of a private HS freshman (who was wait listed at one of his first choice schools--despite great grades and test scores), my advice is to call the admissions director of your first (and maybe 2nd) choice school and ask for more information about your daughters standing as an applicant. You can reaffirm your interest in the event a spot opens up (sometimes things change over the summer), and explore the viability of applying as a sophomore next year. Also, enlist the advice and/or help of your middle school principal or head as they might have insight into your situation, and/or steer you to a viable alternative school. Good luck. A sympathetic parent

I totally agree with the reply from ''A sympathetic parent''. I would go further to say - to be VERY clear with your 1st and maybe 2nd choice school that if a space opened up you would be there within the hour to sign the contract and pay tuition. Between now and the end of the month there will be students who do not accept the admission, for many reasons, and spaces will open up. Some schools rank their waiting list and others do not. So if it is an unranked waiting list anyone on waitlist can be offered a spot that opens up, and as time continues schools become very interested in finalizing the class roster if they have a number of students who do not sign contracts. If you were looking for a large scholarship this may be affecting your application since scholarship resources are very scarce at the high school level.

Please do not be shy about asking your community resources - former teachers, principals, religious leader, or activity leader to add additional support to your efforts. Keep it rational and respectful, but from experience it does work. In the end your student really needs to get into only one school. Good luck - from experience the private schools in the Bay Area are excellent but there is heavy pressure on admissions. You might also look at boarding schools if you do not find a suitable public program in the area.

Above all as DIFFICULT as this is please share with your student that this is not about her worthiness or ability. It may be because their were just many many girls applying this year, yes numbers do affect outcomes. There are not enough seats in private school in the Bay Area for people who want them - college will be a much much easier process. Also if she has any concerns about being admitted from a waitlist - no one will know unless she tells them. All the students that walk in the first day of class are the students in the class. Go For IT

My belief is that if you really love a school, you can eventually get into it (presuming your child has been waitlisted and there are no extenuating circumstances that would preclude her from being a candidate). It is important that the school hear from you and that they know they are your daughter's number one choice. Write them a love letter, explaining what you love about them, what your family could bring to the school (special skills, willingness to do extra volunteering, etc.), why the school is a particular fit for your family and your daughter. Become a very friendly squeaky wheel: make sure Admissions folks know who you are, be pleasant and persistent, ask them if they mind if you call on occasion to find out about the wait list status. There are plenty of folks who change their minds, move, decide on pubic options, etc. Most schools do not have an ordinal wait list (they won't tell you where your daughter is on their list); all things being equal, if you let them know how much getting in means to your family and kindly persist (never get presumptuous or obnoxious!), it's amazing how you will find your daughter at the top of the list. Most of all, do not take the initial rejection personally; there are so many variables in the decision-making algorithm and many of them have nothing to do with your daughter in particular. Once in, she will be a beloved student just as all others are. The initial rejection will be a distant memory, only called to fore when you find yourself writing another family this sort of encouraging email. Stick with it; chances are you will prevail! Best of luck. mom of a wait listed girl who got in

March 1998

Private School Waitlists
Just a note to those who may be feeling badly because they've been waitlisted at a favorite school. Don't despair! The waiting lists are going to start moving along quickly. I personally know of potential openings coming up at some highly coveted schools, including St. Paul's, Windrush, Bentley, and Prospect-Sierra. So if you're waitlisted, call the school of your choice and tell them that they are your first choice. (And don't forget to immediately notify schools which have accepted you if you are going to decline, so that others may take your place.)

A Mom