Yes, no and maybe so. Those admissions letters!

 

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

The countdown begins for notifications from L.A. and Pasadena private schools. Schools will notify families on March 10 and 17th. I remember applying for kindergarten, then DK, then 7th and 4th grades. Each time was stressful. Developmental Kindergarten was less stressful since my son was a sibling at Willows. As we waited, it was tempting to second-guess decisions we’d made along the way. Then, I’d think STOP. It’s done. My friends and I were on the phone non-stop. The stakes seem so high, especially when you start to imagine the worst possible outcome. Yet, over the years, I’ve seen that most families will have a school to attend. It may not be your first choice, but once your kid is accepted, it becomes “your kid’s school” and that’s a great feeling.

Our family has received acceptance letters, wait-list letters and we’re had to withdraw an application when our parent interview went south. If your family gets even one acceptance letter, congratulations! Two or more is an abundance of riches. If not, here’s what I’ve learned as a parent who has been through the process multiple times and as someone who writes about admissions: your kid (like mine) may not get into the school you think is the best school, the perfect school, the school where your family needs to be, the school where “everyone else” is going.  If that happens, it can feel like a harsh blow. After all, you did everything right and yet…a wait-list or “no” letter. What!?! Frenemies are getting in and that makes it feel even worse. The most obnoxious family at your school posts their acceptance letter on Facebook. You feel like crying. You start crying. After a time, you stop crying and call a close friend, preferably someone who doesn’t live in L.A. You vent and rage as she listens. It helps. You feel better. It’s also helpful to remember that sometimes things happen during the admissions process that are completely out of your control. Maybe you don’t have the support of your head of school (that was our situation leaving Willows for 7th grade, which has a middle school or maybe your kid barely made the age cutoff date and schools want older kids). Now what?

So what can you do? After gulping your favorite alcoholic beverage and taking some time to process it, come up with a plan to move forward. For secondary school, you’ll have to tell your kid it’s not personal, this rejection. If you have options, focus on what’s great about where he/she did get in. Don’t do anything you’ll regret like stalking the admissions office or firing off a nasty email to your preschool director or head of school. Think those thoughts if you want, but remain professional. Trust me on this one! Instead, focus on options to move forward. Maybe that means figuring out a plan for a school where your kid has been wait-listed (see below for helpful posts).  Perhaps you should think about submitting a late application at a school where you didn’t apply. This may require the help of an educational consultant to get your calls returned, but it can be well worth it. Cold calling can work, but sometimes a consultant will know which schools have that one open spot that could belong to you.

My kids are now at Viewpoint in 7th and 10th and I couldn’t have asked for a better school for them both!

Here are posts we’ve complied from my experience and those of our contributors. I hope they help. And, you can buy a copy of Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles if you want a comprehensive overview of the L.A. admissions process including sample written applications.

Good luck to everyone!

Christina

Update: March 9, 2017

From Los Angeles Independent Schools:

Friday, March 10, 2017
Email notifications can be sent at 5pm on Friday, March 10, 2017
Replies will be due on Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Grades K-8: Notification can be sent on Friday, March 17, 2017
Email notifications can be sent starting at 5pm on Friday, March 17, 2017
Replies will be due on Monday, March 27, 201 

Waiting For Admissions Letters by Jenny Heitz

Waiting For Admissions Letters: Advice From L.A. Admissions Directors 

Black Friday: The Day L.A. Private Schools Send Admissions Letters on The Daily Truffle

Grateful, Hopeful or Dismayed: When Admissions Letters Arrive

Various Types of Admissions Letters by Kim Hamer

Good News: How To Choose

0/X: What’s Next When You Don’t Get In?

Confronting Rejection: When Your All Isn’t Enough

Tips For If Your Child Is Wait-Listed

Hiring An Educational Consultant To Go From Wait-Listed To Accepted

List of Educational Consultants

 

Keep up with Beyond The Brochure on Facebook for all the latest L.A. private school news.

 

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The BIG WEEK, The BIG DAY: L.A. Private School Admissions

Email Image

This is the BIG WEEK. Finally after months of waiting, schools will notify parents about elementary school admissions decisions on Friday, March 18. If you applied for secondary school, or if you applied to Pasadena schools, you most likely found out yesterday.  Friday is the BIG DAY for L.A., you been waiting for since you first started the admissions process in September. The Los Angeles Times called it “Black Friday” because it sets off so much panic among parents.

I’ve been there. I know what its like to open the schools’ emails or to log on to Ravenna. I’ve felt the exhilaration of the acceptance letters and the letdown and distress of a wait-list letter (in our case, it was an email that was most likely a polite “no”). I found out that doors shut, making room for other doors to open. I learned the harsh reality that people lie during this process. Friends don’t come through for you the way you’d hoped. School administrators think they can tell you where your kid should go to school, despite your objections.

After going through kindergarten admissions and middle school admissions processes, I’ve experienced some bumps and bruises along the way. With my two kids now at Viewpoint School and previously at The Willows School, I’ve lived the ups and downs of L.A. admissions. If you received the news you wanted, congratulations! If you don’t get the decisions you hoped for, you may need to pivot and quickly develop another plan to pursue. You’ll need to set aside your ego, your pride and maybe even a few friendships–I certainly did. Focus on your kid and what’s best for him or her. Contact the schools where your child was wait-listed to see if they might have a spot, making sure you tell them you’ll accept it if offered. If you got an acceptance from your second or third choice school, don’t let it slip away: put down the deposit, then see what happens with your first choice school if your kid was wait-listed there. I fully acknowledge all of this seems crazy-complicated. What I’ve learned, however, is that somehow it all works out. Everyone finds a school that works for their kid, even if it isn’t the one they expected. You’d be surprised how this happens every year. If you find yourself without a school, keep an open mind, expand your options if needed, reconsider schools you may have initially thought might not work, contact an educational consultant, look for “hidden gem” schools, forget about the “popular” schools because this isn’t a popularity contest, inquire about whether a school will accept a late application–some do.  There are options, you just have to find them.

Here’s a link to one of our most popular posts: Types of Admissions Decisions: Accepted, Wait-Listed or Shut-Out 

Good luck! Christina

 

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Who Gets In? Who Doesn’t? Some Observations About L.A. Private Schools…

 

Photo: Flickr by Giulio Molo
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If someone had asked me who gets into the most competitive L.A. private schools before I went through the admissions process, I would have probably said, “celebrities!” Now that I’ve been immersed in the private school world for the past 9 years as a mom and 5 years as a writer on the subject, I know that’s just part of the short answer–and really not the most important part. Celebrities, while highly coveted by some schools, are avoided by others, considered too high maintenance and disruptive to a school environment. And, there aren’t nearly enough celebrities to explain the cutthroat private school admissions process in L.A. So, what else is going on that causes some kids to get in everywhere and others to be declined admission? As my co-authors and I have said before, it’s about your family–your child and you. Especially when you’re applying for kindergarten.

Here are 3 categories to attempt to explain who gets in and who doesn’t. A family usually has one or more factors in a category working for/against their application:

 

  • Gets in everywhere 
    • Family has a prominent last name (Disney, Annenberg, Spielberg) and/or a large trust fund
    • Kid scores very well on kindergarten entrance tests
    • Family adds ethnic diversity without needing financial aid
    • Kid is extremely bright, articulate and the kind of kid who appeals to every admissions director (think of a mini Barack Obama)
    • Kid has a unique ability in music, art, math or some other area
    • Very high ISEE scores for middle and high school (8 and 9)

 

  • Gets into some, but not all schools (this is most families who apply)
    • Parents are well connected at one or two schools, but not all the schools where they apply
    • Follows the “rules” of the admissions process
    • Has a similar family profile to a lot of other families, making it more competitive for their kid
    • Kid attends a “feeder” preschool to a certain private elementary school
    • Kid has been tested as highly gifted
    • Extremely bright kid from disadvantaged background
    • Good ISEE scores for middle and high school (5 and 6)
    • Family is philosophically at odds with some of the schools where they apply
    • Admissions director has a strong preference for a certain type of family/kid

 

  • Does not get in anywhere
    • Family only applied to one very competitive school
    • Needs financial aid, but didn’t apply for it
    • Parents (or sometimes kid) seem very difficult and demanding
    • Kid has undisclosed behavior or other issues
    • Family is “outsider” applying only to “country club” schools
    • A negative recommendation from preschool director
    • Family appears to prefer public school
    • Family/kid does not have support of head of school for middle and high school admissions
    • Very low ISEE scores for middle or high school (scores of 1 and 2)
    • A contentious divorce or custody battle that isn’t adequately explained (or resolved)
    • Admissions director doesn’t think the kid will succeed at their school (academic or social reasons)

 

There’s nothing scientific about the categories above. These are simply my observations after 9 years of being a mom at two private schools and 5 years of writing about the topic and talking to tons of parents, admissions directors, heads of schools, educational consultants and preschool directors.

 

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Grateful, Hopeful Or Dismayed: When The L.A. Admissions Letters Arrive

Pool flowers

It’s been an eternity (or so it seems) and finally, the admissions letters will soon arrive by regular mail or email. All over town, parents will be either (1) celebrating (2) trying to figure out what their wait-list letters really mean or (3) freaking out because their kid didn’t get in anyplace. It’s admissions day in L.A.

 

If you’re like me and you’ve been through the admissions process twice for two kids (DK, K, 4th and 7th grades), you’ll probably be familiar with at least two of the three scenarios above. My kids have been accepted and wait-listed, with one application that never got to the finish line after a terrible parent interview (more about that in the book…it caught us by surprise and there was no way our kid was getting into that school!).

 

First, let’s talk about the good news. Acceptance letters! Oh, joy! Now you can break out the champagne, call the school and tell them your family will accept. You’ll fork over the deposit and carefully analyze the admissions packet from what is now your kid’s school. Your kid has a school! Maybe you got two or three acceptances and you have lots of choices. Weigh them carefully, the pros and cons of each. Perhaps in a neurotic moment of ego-driven self-doubt, you’ll regret you didn’t apply to even more schools, including that amazing, constantly talked about oh-so-fabulous-school, just to get the letter and turn them down. After all, their tour was lame, the moms are mean-girls who wear Chanel and you’d enjoy the satisfaction…oh, never mind. All of this is pure happiness.

One Fit Window

 

Now to the wait-list. Yes, I’ve received several, one in particular that I felt panicky about.  Actually it was an email and it came at 12 noon on Saturday. Wait-list. Wait. List. To try to get a spot off the wait-list or not. To be or not to be? That was the question and this day seemed truly Shakespearean after a long process middle school process. Barry and I decided not to pursue the wait-list for our daughter, since that would have meant keeping our son at Willows, something we had decided very late during the admissions process would a mistake for various reasons. If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door. Instead, we focused on getting both kids into Viewpoint. And we did it.

 

It went something like this. We submitted a late application to Viewpoint (late being the Monday after admissions letters were sent out). We didn’t talk to the Willows about it, since experience told us that would be pointless. It turned out to be the right move at the perfect time. The kids got in. Maybe at sometime in the future in a galaxy far, far away, I’ll spill the details of what I think happened to cause my kid to end up on the wait-list. But, for now, you just need to know that I’ve had the experience of opening one of those emails and I know what it feels like. It’s a very uncertain feeling, but it isn’t always a “no” and a few kids at almost all the private elementary schools get in every year after first being wait-listed. Wait-lists move around. When one family declines a spot, the school looks to the wait-list to fill that spot. There are some schools, however, with very high acceptance rates so wait-lists spots are fewer. Sometimes, these are schools with lots of faculty kids, legacy families or siblings applying who are pretty much guaranteed to accept spots when offered. Parents often ask if they should turn down a spot at one school and linger on the wait-list at another. No! Send in your non-refundable deposit to the school where your kid has been accepted. It’s not a good idea to mention to that school you’re hoping to get a wait-list spot elsewhere. If a wait-list spot opens up, you’ll lose the deposit (it can be $2000-$5000, depending on the grade level, but that’s the reality). That is all just part of the L.A. admissions process.

 

If you find your family without a school, create another plan. A new plan that discards all mention of rejection letters. Don’t blame yourself and definitely don”t obsess over what went wrong. It could have been sometime entirely out of your control. Instead, focus on creating new options. Talk to your preschool director. Some of them have near-magical powers within their carefully cultivated relationships with admissions directors. Send him/her to public school for a year until you can re-apply. Call an educational consultant who knows how to work a wait-list to get a spot and who may also know which schools will take late applications. These might not have been your first choice options, but they can end up working out better than you’d expect. You’ll need to be open minded, patient and flexible, not exactly the qualities the admissions process brings out in parents.

 

We all want the very best education for our kids. Good luck! –Christina

 

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Photo: One Fit Window

 

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Waiting, Types of Letters, Admitted, Wait-Listed or Shut-Out: We’ve Got It Covered

           Love This!

 

* Update: Since this post was written, many schools now notify families by email or use the Ravenna system for parents to log in to find out the school’s admissions decision. 

Here’s a round-up of our some of most popular posts on selecting a school if your child is admitted, what to do if you child is wait-listed, being denied admission and hiring an educational consultant to help get your child off the wait-list. Please note that Porcha Dodson, Beyond The Brochure co-author tells us that schools only use email to send good news acceptance letters. Most schools don’t send wait-list or declined admission emails. Also, we’ve head from several sources that PS#1 Elementary School’s admissions director Andrea Roth, resigned this week.

Waiting For Admissions Letters by Jenny Heitz

Various Types of Admissions Letters by Kim Hamer

Good News: How To Choose

0/X: What’s Next When You Don’t Get In?

Confronting Rejection: When Your All Isn’t Enough

Tips For If Your Child Is Wait-Listed

Hiring An Educational Consultant To Go From Wait-Listed To Accepted

Choosing A School: Every School Tells A Story Part 1

Choosing A School: Every School Tells A Story Part 2 by Jenny Heitz

How Could Choosing A School Be So Hard? What I Did/Did Not Expect About The Willows School

                       Even Better!

 

 

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