0/X? What next?

Denied Admission. The harsh words shock many parents who open private elementary school letters hoping their child would be offered admission. Instead, they’ve received a letter informing them that their child has been declined admission. Then another letter with the same rejection. And again. This is extremely upsetting (understandably) to these families. If you’re a parent who got rejection letters, the question is what next? Here are some suggestions:

Don’t beat yourself up over this! It’s very common in the competitive LA private elementary school environment.

Understand how subjective the admissions process can be; it’s not random, but it’s not a hard science either. Factors completely out of your control enter into the equation. Too many siblings, too many legacy families, too many families with connections to board members and on and on.

Enroll your child in your local public kindergarten and reapply to private elementary schools again next year. We know numerous families who are admitted the second year they apply (either for 1st grade or kindergarten).

Understand that not being admitted may have to do with your child being too young or another factor not entirely within your control. Another year at preschool or local kindergarten will solve that issue.

Don’t expect admissions directors to “debrief” you as to why your child was not admitted.

Recognize that applying to the same schools for a second time will signal your strong interest in the schools and your commitment to private elementary school.

Focus on your “Plan B”. Develop a strategy for next year’s application process, if that’s what you plan to do. Expand the number of schools you apply to next year. Ask your preschool director for feedback. He or she may have spoken to admissions directors and gained valuable information about your application.

Make sure your preschool director gave your child and your family a favorable recommendation.

We cover the issue of rejection letters and wait-lists in our book because it’s so common in LA.

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Christina Simon: Los Angeles, California, United States I'm the mom of two kids who attended The Willows School in Culver City and Viewpoint School in Calabasas. My daughter is a graduate of Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism ('23) and my son is a sophomore at UPenn/Wharton ('26). I live in Coldwater Canyon with my husband, Barry, and our dogs. Contact me at csimon2007@gmail.com

10 thoughts to “0/X? What next?”

  1. We were waitlisted for kindergarten at our top choice. How common is it to be admitted off the wait list?

  2. Hi Anon 10:59, see the post below about wait-lists. Depending on the school, your child can definitely get in off the wait-list. There are some things you need to do to make it happen, but yes, it's possible.

    Best of luck!


  3. We are waitlisted at our top choice and the rest are rejections. Is there anything we can do at our rejections to move them to at least wait list? Thanks in advance.

  4. Hi Anon 11:09,

    I think its very tough to move the rejections to wait-lists. You should talk to your preschool director and ask his/her feedback about what could have happened. Ask your preschool director to call the schools on your behalf and tell them you're still interested and would will take the spot if one opens up. You can also call those schools too with the same message.If you have friends or contacts at those schools, ask them to call the AD on your behalf. I do know a family who was declined admission and had a contact call the school. It worked and they were admitted after being denied admission. Still, I think that's the exception, not the rule.

  5. Christina-
    You mentioned "depending on the school" regarding getting in off the wait list. Are there some schools where it is known that getting in off the wait list is uncommon or impossible?

    The language of the wait list letter said that people do get in, but I am wondering if that was just boilerplate language to prevent a lot of anxious phone calls from parents.

  6. Christina- You mentioned "depending on the school" regarding getting in off the wait list. Are there some schools where it is known that getting in off the wait list is uncommon or impossible?

    The language of the wait list letter said that people do get in, but I am wondering if that was just boilerplate language to prevent a lot of anxious phone calls from parents.

    My Answer: I think the fact that the letter tells you that kids do get in from the wait-list is a good sign. I know at our school, The Willows, kids DO get in from the wait-list. I think, however, there are some schools where there are so few spots open after siblings, the school's own preschool, etc. that it makes it hard for a wait-list spot to open up. We just know so many families who got accepted from wait-lists, that you shouldn't give up. Keep working the process. This is a year that is different from others because of the bad economy. Families who were admitted may have a change of mind due to finances and decide to go public or to a less expensive option. Families may get accepted and be unable to afford private school, even though they initially thought they could. This is an unpredictable year. Wait-list spots can open up in the summer too. Even in September. Especially this year, things could move around a lot.


  7. How do you deal with the "hurt pride" aspect of wait listing (or rejection)? Even if we get in off the wait list, I'm wondering if we will always feel like a second choice prom date.

    The difference between the acceptance letter (from our second choice) and the wait list letter (from our first choice) was so stark: a lovely handwritten note from the admissions director, vs. a form letter. Does getting in off the wait list affect your child's school experience? Do you even want to for tens of thousands of dollars over to a place that was "iffy" about having your wonderful child there in the first place?

  8. Hi Anon 1:12, the "hurt pride" issue feels very personal, but its really not. I can assure you that if your child gets in off the wait-list and attends that school, it will not matter AT ALL that you were initially wait-listed. First, nobody will know unless you tell them. And, nobody will care. Trust me on this one. Once the process is over (and yes, it will end), you will be looking forward, focusing on the transition to kindergarten, volunteering, getting to know other families, school events, playdates and more. Parents at private elementary schools like to tell their admissions "nightmare" stories about how long it took for them to get in and that sort of thing. Everybody rolls their eyes and laughs because it was so stressful, but it's over. Even siblings have these issues too. Please don't interpret the wait-list letter as the school doesn't want your child or is iffy about him/her. Believe me, if they call you to accept your child, it will be a very warm welcome and all will be well. Just to reiterate, wait-listing has no impact on your child's experience or your experience as a family once you're at a school! But, it you really dislike the tone of the letter and that's pushing you toward the school where your child got in, maybe that's your answer. Maybe your "second choice" is quickly becoming your "first choice"?

  9. We got rejected from the center for early education and curtis this year.should we apply again for the same schools?

    1. Hi Alma, I’m sorry to hear about those rejections. I think re-applying is a personal decision. But, you can think about a few things. First, would you be re-applying for a grade that has very few spots i.e. first grade? Do you know why you got rejection letters? Sometimes a school will reject a kid because they are very close to the cutoff date and the school wants them to be older. Also, talk to your preschool/current school director to see if you can find out what went wrong. You could ask the schools whether the grade you’d be applying into will have openings–sometimes a school will let you know they only expect one or even zero openings in a grade. That will help you make the decision. I’d also suggest that if you do re-apply, expand your list and add more schools! Both CEE and Curtis are very competitive to get into and sometimes it is not personal even if it feels that way. Good luck! Christina

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