Guest Blogger Jenny: Waiting For Admissions Letters Gives New Meaning To The Word "Stress"

The clock is currently ticking down to the moment when the envelopes are sent out, separating out those who get into the private school of their choice, and those who are losers forever and must get “Private School Reject” tattooed on their foreheads, and immediately change long term plans for their progeny from President to Professional Pooper Scooper. Sorry, but the future comes down to whatever is delivered by your postman (or email) in late March and it won’t matter how much you tipped him over the holidays.

Yes, this is a gross exaggeration. But, you can’t deny that the air is filled with a certain tension as acceptance or rejection letter day approaches. You’ve been through the endless tours, the hours of research, the shuttling of your child to interviews and testing. You’ve begged for letters of recommendation from influential people you barely know, kissed butt at a bunch of parties, and generally genuflected before the great god of private school education, all in hopes of getting your pride and joy into one of L.A.’s hallowed halls. It’s exhausting and needlessly stressful. You need some perspective and some downtime.

First off, if your child doesn’t get into one of the most popular private schools, it’s not an express ticket to Loserville. I did the calculations once, and it turns out that it may be easier to get your kid into Harvard College than into the Center for Early Education. Sounds absurd, I know, but it’s true.  On a simple supply and demand basis (leaving out the fact that your child would need near-perfect SAT scores and be a professional level musician to approach the Ivy League), The Center has fewer spaces available than Harvard for the number of applicants. This is not depressing news; it’s meant to soften the blow, because if your child doesn’t get into The Center, it’s not a death knell for his future. Obviously, no one gets into The Center!

There are many, many private elementary schools in this city. And hopefully, if you’ve been reading this blog and the Beyond The Brochure book, you’ve applied to a variety of them just to strengthen the odds of acceptance. Thus, when the letters start flying through the mail slot, Harry Potter style, there will hopefully be less of them blowing raspberries in your face.

Here’s how it works. A complete acceptance letter demands an answer, pronto. If you receive one of these, and it’s the school of your choice, call immediately and accept. Then, write a fat check. That’s it. You’re done. A complete rejection letter, however, requires no response on your part, although the ritual burning of it out on the deck is your call. But, how about a “wait list” letter? Well, I can speak from experience that a wait list letter often leads to an acceptance later down the line. If you really want to turn a wait list letter into an acceptance, call immediately and tell them you’re interested. Perhaps call them a month later to again express your interest. And then wait. That’s how my daughter got into Mirman, so I know it works.

In the meantime, though, you need to get yourself together. Stop talking about it with your friends. Your real friends don’t want to hear about it, and your fake competitive friends want to make you feel insecure about it. If you’re biting your fingernails, go get one of those indestructible gel manicures; they taste really bad. Try to be out of the house when the mailman shows up, either because you’re at work and never there anyway or by conveniently needing to do many errands. Don’t mention any of this to your kid unless you like staying up until 3 a.m. dealing with their anxiety over possibly changing schools. Eat ice cream. Have a coffee. Have something stronger.

Most of all, maintain some perspective. At this point, we’ve all heard many private school success and failure stories, but none of them ever ended with the student’s prospects for the future being utterly dashed. There are too many private school routes to take to think that there’s just one school that would work, or just one type of education that’s acceptable. The ability to see the big picture here is really important.

And good luck to you all!
Jenny Heitz has worked as a staff writer for Coast Weekly in Carmel, freelanced in the South Bay, and then switched to advertising copywriting. Her daughter started 4th grade at Mirman School this year. She previously attended 3rd St. Elementary School. Jenny has been published recently in the Daily News. She now writes about gift ideas and products on her blog, Find A Toad.
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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

5 thoughts to “Guest Blogger Jenny: Waiting For Admissions Letters Gives New Meaning To The Word "Stress"”

  1. Your blog is like a friendly place to visit when I'm obsessing over the school process. THANK YOU for the support and the funny stuff too.

  2. My going into 6th grade son received a wait list letter for a competitive private school in Pasadena. They asked that we return a letter to them indicating whether we wished to remain on the wait list, and we did. Should I call or email the admissions office to reiterate that our son would really like to attend, or is this too much? Advice is appreciated!

  3. Hi, in our book, we recommend that parents in your situation write a note to the school, email them or call the admissions director and tell them that if your son is accepted, you will enroll him!! Use this phrase. This is what the schools want to know. Remaining on the wait-list just tells the school you're still interested, but doesn't let them know just how interested you really are. A lot of parents on the wait-list find other options and the school never hears from them. Then, spots open up and they want to know that if a family is offered a spot, they will take it right away. I would definitely let them know you'll take a spot if it is offered. And, your form of communication should fit the school. If it's a traditional school, maybe a nice handwritten note. If it's a more casual school that uses email, than that will work. Good luck!!!!

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