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How much time can I save with the SAO?

June 27, 2022

If this is your first experience going through the private school application process, the biggest eye-opener is likely the time it takes to research and apply to a handful of top-choice schools. The potential to significantly reduce your time investment with the highly-touted Standard Application Online (SAO) almost sounds too good to be true. But it’s not. 

How much time can you save?

Well, that depends on how many applications you submit, but we know that families using the SAO complete three applications on average. And while we don’t have a stopwatch measuring the time spent on each element, we can make reasonable estimates. 

Let’s walk through this…

  • It likely takes 15 minutes to complete the profile and demographic information; 
  • An hour to submit recommendation requests, continually check their status, and send friendly reminders;
  • 15 minutes to send transcript requests
  • A half-hour to gather admission assessment scores and submit them to the schools; 
  • Three hours for your child to write their essay and an hour for you to proof and provide feedback; 
  • And an hour for overall organization and communication with the school to understand your status in the process.

That’s a total of seven hours per application, and it’s a conservative estimate as the long-term time-saving benefits of managing multiple applications through a single dashboard with an intuitive checklist are hard to quantify. However, take the average of three applications, and on the second and third submission, you’d save 14 hours with this estimate. For five applications, it’s 28 hours saved!

A screenshot of an SAO application in progress to the Taft School.
The ability to stay organized with the SAO and easily track application progress for each school will save more time than you think.

As outlined above, the SAO’s intuitive checklist and ability to track application deadlines and all forms and requirements in one place is a definite time-saver. The following SAO best practices will further help you maximize your time savings.

1. Enter profile information at account creation.

Whether you’re registering for the SSAT, the Character Skills Snapshot, or the SAO, our initial family account setup asks for a wide range of profile and student interest information. It may seem tedious at the time, but inputting this information at the initial get-go will have it all loaded and ready to submit to schools via SAO inquiries and applications, saving you from having to add it later.

2. Use our private school search to find schools that accept the SAO.

Our private school search has a filter for schools that accept the SAO. Combine it with filters for location, day or boarding, grade levels, religion, and student interests to quickly identify and learn about top-fitting schools that meet your family’s preferences.

3. Let schools know you’re interested via the SAO.

Once you’ve entered your family’s profile information into our system and have discovered schools through the search, letting them know you’re interested via the SAO is quick and easy. While adding schools to your SAO dashboard, select the checkbox to demonstrate your interest in the school. Their admissions team will receive a notification, opening the lines of communication and ensuring that you’re aware of open house events and application requirements. The time-saving potential of simply being in the know is tremendous.

4. Write and submit the SAO essay.

Submitting one essay to multiple schools is a huge time saver that quickly adds up with each additional application. Students can also write their essay—and parents can review it—directly in the SAO before submission, saving more time from copying and pasting.

Some schools accept submissions from the SAO and a native application on their website. This practice may have you wondering which essay they value most, but you don’t need to worry. In accepting the SAO, each school agrees to treat the SAO essay equally with its native website application. In fact, through system integrations, both applications often land in the same inbox together. 

Schools accepting the SAO are doing so because they want to remove barriers and make the application process as simple as they can for families. Consider it a positive sign—you’ve found a school that cares about the parent experience—and take them up on their time-saving offer. 

Get started with your SAO application today.

Let’s Talk About the Standard Application Online

Learn more about the SAO and hear a school’s perspective in this episode of the #admission chat podcast.

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