Waiting for Admissions Letters and Getting In, Wait-listed, Rejected by Barbara Cameron

thorns and roses concept

 

 

Here’s another insightful, honest post from our friend Barbara Cameron. This time she writes about the thorny issue of waiting for admissions letters. Then, there’s the rose at the end of the journey…if things go well. We’re wishing all of you the very best of luck as you wait for letters and find out results!–Christina and Anne 

We wait for an online purchase to arrive. We wait in traffic. We wait for our Double Cappuccino extra froth at Starbucks (where I recently saw a woman flip out on the barista because she waited “three minutes and it was all wrong” when she received it). We wait for news from an oncologist about ourselves, or a loved one or a friend when all wrong takes on an entirely different meaning. We wait for our babies to be born.

And then, of course, we sometimes wait for acceptance letters from L.A. private schools to hear where our children will get their education. It is easy to say, “Keep it in perspective, it isn’t a life or death matter,” because it is not. However, seriously hard work, time and effort have gone into this process more times than not. Our children’s education matters a great deal. Expectations are high, and fear can creep in, so how do we handle it?

I had a friend who drove around her neighborhood trying to track down the mailman the day the letters were due to arrive, which some might judge extreme, but if you knew her, you would laugh. That is her. She laughs now. Getting a little crazy is okay if that’s what you do. The Los Angeles Times famously coined the term “Black Friday” to describe this day.

For each family dynamic, there is a valid answer to how do we wait for this news. My crazy, I tended to play the waiting down, quell the anxiety by telling myself whatever happens it happens the way it is meant to happen. Whatever works; it’s a trick of the mind. I created options so I could remain faithful to my mantra. Some families are clear about their few choices and bet on that. These days, parents frantically check their email or log onto sites which schools posts acceptances. Check your email’s junk mail folder too because I’ve heard that’s where some of these admissions emails end up.

I guess the one real thing to take away: in many ways, it is a crapshoot. It’s a roll of the dice no matter that you may have the odds in your favor. The best way to prepare yourself and your children, is to ready them to handle whatever happens, which means you as a parent must control it. Lead by example.

We waited before kindergarten, were accepted to The Willows, our first choice, wait-listed at PS1, got rejected from The Center for Early Education, and, well, case in point, I can’t even remember the rest now. Of course, I signed the contract for The Willows instantly. As for high school, we did as we were told because we needed financial aid; we threw our net wide. Seven schools, applications, interviews, tours! Seven letters to await. Crapshoot: one school we thought he had a good chance, a no-go. The school we thought was out of his league was a yes, and wait-listed at one he liked very much. Fairly last minute, my son did a shadow day at Arête and fell in love with it. They accepted him; two very different schools. I remember conversations with family and friends, what to do? On the last day to decide, driving to work, debating which would be best for him, after receiving generous financial aid from both, I just made a decision, knowing we can never, in the end, know the answer to that question. Arête, I still believe, was the best choice!

Maybe all of this means remembering that we are always in the process of waiting for something; waiting is hard. Traffic can make us late to an important meeting. If we crave and look forward to our morning caffeine, waiting for it might seem impossible if the line is long. Some news we think will change our lives, and some possibly will; some may not, although we feel (as the Cappuccino women felt) it will.

Maybe teach your kids, the degree of importance varies, but waiting is a part of life. It never stops. The outcome of hard work, whatever it may be, is a part of life. Whatever happens, we deal with it and move on. There is no other choice. How we handle what we receive after the wait is– and will– become a part of who we are.

Barbara Cameron is the 2012 winner of the American Literary Review nonfiction contest, judged by Alice Elliot Dark, and her winning essay, “Hawk Blood,” was published in the journal. It was republished in the Colorado Review as an editor’s pick. Her essay, “In Avalon, She Fell,” was a finalist in a 2017 literary contest, judged by Abigail Thomas. She has studied with Mary Gaitskill and with Tom Jenks, founder and co-editor of Narrative. Barbara is a graduate of Barnard College, a former restaurant server and now manager, a single mom by choice and a resident of Los Angeles. You can read Barbara’s most recent essay about Financial Aid on Beyond The Brochure and her creative nonfiction in Angels Flight Literary West.

Check out Beyond The Brochure’s previous posts about admissions letters, wait-lists and rejections and here on The Daily Truffle. 

Follow Beyond The Brochure on Facebook for all the latest news about L.A. private schools.

Good luck to everyone!

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You Are More Than A Wait-List Number by Sandy Eiges

Shutterstock

Sandy Eiges of L.A. School Scout and a friend of Beyond The Brochure, writes about the angst that comes with waiting for secondary school admissions letters. A lot of this advice is relevant for elementary school admissions too. And then, there’s the letters themselves. Read on…Good luck to everyone–Christina 

With many of you waiting to hear about high school acceptances on Friday, and boarding school acceptances on Saturday, anxiety is running high. And that’s just the parents!

Yes, many of you seem to have forgotten that the results coming out this weekend aren’t actually about you. Your children are the ones affected, and the focus really should be on them. There are several possible scenarios that come to mind:

Scenario #1: S/he got in everywhere! Congratulations, that’s a terrific result. So, are you going with the “name” school, or are you going with the school that’s really the perfect fit? Who makes this decision? This is the time for a great parenting moment. But hey, in this competitive climate, congratulations! Really terrific outcome. And really, really rare.

Scenario #2: S/he got in to one school, not your top choice – or his! This is still an occasion for celebration. The question is, are you going to wait for the school that waitlisted you, or are you going to love the school that loves you? Always a hard choice. Here it is worth remembering that there is an acceptance on the table. If you applied there, it must have been a school you were considering, right?

Scenario #3: S/he got in to a couple of schools, but not to the school she had her heart set on. Not even a waitlist there, just a flat-out no. Is there any hope that she could still get in there? No, and please don’t hold any hope out to your beleaguered child. Just because their best friend got in doesn’t mean it’s the right school for her. This is the time to realize that with two school acceptances, there’s a choice! That’s a time to celebrate – many scenarios do not include a choice at all. And by embracing reality, you are modeling the kind of decision-making that your child will be able to use when it’s time for them to apply to college.

Scenario #4: Your son did not get into his top choice school and was waitlisted at the other school. Wait – did you just say, “the other school?” You just let him apply to two schools? And he’s not what anyone would call an A student? You didn’t heed my advice to apply to at least FOUR schools? This is not an ideal situation. If your tendency is to get combative when it seems that no one appreciates your child, you have my sympathy. But railing at the world – in front of your child – is not a good parenting moment. And while you can wait to move up that waitlist, this might be the time to get proactive and see if he can still apply anywhere else.

Scenario #5: Your child did not get in anywhere. No yeses, no waitlists. Just plain no. This is the toughest scenario of all. What happened here? It seems like something went terribly wrong. Did you apply to schools that were realistic for your student? This might be the time to get real. Talk to their school and see if they can shed any light on the situation. As with scenario #4, this is not the time to yell and scream, this is the time to get out there and see what is possible and give your child the love they deserve. This is much harder on them than it is on you.

If you are not already one of my families, and you need to discuss your child’s high school acceptance outcome, I am offering one-time meetings next week. Please contact me at sandy@LAschoolscout.com.

L.A. School Scout is now scheduling consultations for school placement in 2019, be it preschool, Kindergarten or middle school, high school or even boarding school. For more information about our services please contact sandy@LAschoolscout.com.
Sandy Eiges
Sandy Eiges, M.S.W.
L.A. School Scout
877.877.6240
310.926.0050
sandy@LAschoolscout.com
www.laschoolscout.com 

 

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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

 

Like Beyond The Brochure on Facebook for all the latest blog posts, private school news and events!

 

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

 

Photo: Flickr by Giulio Molo
Photo: Flickr by Giulio Molo

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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