Private School Decision Week
Updated: Mar 5, 2022
As the final two weeks start before private school decisions are released, parental stress increases. What can we do in the meantime? What are the scenarios that we might face in a couple of weeks?
The majority of independent (non-Catholic) private schools in the Bay Area release decisions on a common date: March 10th for preK, March 17th for K-8, March 18th for high school, and some TK with preK vs some with K. The majority of Catholic private schools release their decisions in January, and many for-profit schools offer rolling admissions. Unfortunately, a small number of nonprofit independent private schools have released decisions early with early deadlines. PreK - 8th grade schools give all parents a week to decide. High schools give financial aid families five days to decide, and full tuition families the week.
Always read your contract before signing. Be sure that you understand whether and when you are committing to only the deposit or the full year tuition. While the typical contract binds you to a year of tuition in May, some will bind you upon signature.
Should I rank my schools in advance?
Once you get decisions from the schools, it might seem straightforward to have a ranked list for a faster decision, but this also could put you in a situation of disappointment when every school has benefits, and no school is perfect. My suggestion, instead, think about what you like about each school, and which schools will meet your family’s needs. Hopefully, every school you’ve applied to has some fit with your family, but you can also group them into “thrilled to accept”, “happy to accept”, and “acceptable”.
Some guidelines for decision week
Remember that some families will have multiple options, while other families may have fewer offers or multiple wait pools. If your family is one with many acceptances, please be gentle when asking questions about schools and considerate of others’ feelings.
Once decisions come in, group the schools into options you might accept, and those that you would not. If, say, two or three of the schools (and financial aid packages) would work for you, immediately notify any other schools that you are no longer interested, so that the spot can be allocated to families on the wait pool. This also allows you to focus on a smaller decision, say School A vs. School B. Try to make this decision before the deadline so that families in the wait pool get their offers before their deadlines.
If you are wait pooled at a school you love, email admissions and reiterate your interest in the wait pool. Include why you love the school, as specifically as possible. Some schools have a form online, for instance in Ravenna, that you should fill out. If you are applying from a private preschool or K-8 school, ask your school counselor to reach out to admissions and get more information on the likelihood of your child receiving a slot. Be prepared to make a quick decision.
If you are accepted without financial aid, and cannot afford the school without some help, email admissions and reiterate your interest. Let them know if there is a higher number that you can pay, remembering that aid does not generally increase in the future unless you have a financial decline. Reiterate how your budget falls, and why this is your number. Again, if applying from a private preschool or K-8, your school counselor can reach out to admissions to determine your likelihood of an increase in aid. Most schools cannot afford to meet full aid of every admitted candidate, but will also get declines from some families. As a result, it is possible for schools to change financial aid offers during decision week.
Lastly, if you leave decision week with no offers, you can regroup and reach out to additional schools. Sometimes, families decide to leave a school just before they are committed to full tuition, typically in May. Last minute job offers, or personal life, can affect a family’s decisions. I have helped multiple families apply for private schools over the summer, with success months after the formal decision period.
Guidelines for your student
Our school asks that (8th grade) students not discuss their acceptances for a week, nor wear gear from their new school that week. After that point, sharing where they will attend vs all their acceptances can keep the experience from becoming competitive or hurting feelings. Remember that teens are sensitive! For younger kids, keeping the information from them until the week winds up, and simply sharing their future school, will keep the friendships stronger.
What else should I know?
Read your contract. Note when you are committed to a full year’s tuition. Most schools allow you to choose to pay yearly, twice a year, or monthly. Consider each option as you read the contract.
Want more input on schools?
Vicky consults with families to help select public and private schools in San Francisco in an environment of non-judgment. Season packages include a discussion to review key decisions, such as which school to choose as a first choice, and review of the letter. Her own children have attended both public and private schools, and her elder is also in the process for high school. New clients can email to learn more about her services, or see her website to learn about her season packages.