Students participating in a private school admissions group interview.

Understanding Private School Application Requirements

November 4, 2020

Interested in applying to a private school, but intimidated by the application process

Fear not. Private school applications may seem massive and confusing at first glance, but most are fairly standard—which means you can begin to prepare specific components well in advance of submission deadlines. 

To get ahead of the process, use this checklist to familiarize yourself with standard application components now. While your selected school may not require all, it’s better to be over prepared than overwhelmed! 

Private School Application Checklist 

  • Application Fee: Most schools charge a fee as part of the application process. This fee covers the cost of the admission assessment process, and the amount differs by school. 
  • Standard Student Information: Applications usually contain a basic form that asks for information about the student such as age, current school, and extracurricular interests. Complete this form and submit it with the school's application fee.
  • Essay Question(s): Most applications include a few short essay questions. This is a great opportunity for applicants to showcase their personality, passions, and interests.
  • Admission Test Results: Many schools require a standardized admission test, such as the SSAT and the Character Skills Snapshot, as part of the application process. 
  • Family Statement: Some schools ask parents or guardians to answer questions and provide a written statement so that they can better understand your family.
  • Teacher Evaluations/Letters of Recommendation: Most private schools request that your student's current English or math teacher, and/or the principal or head of school, provide information. It’s your responsibility to submit these documents on time to the school(s) to which you're applying. 
  • Official School Transcript: Most schools require an official school transcript (the history of your school coursework and grades), which comes from the registrar/administration office at your current school.
  • Financial Aid Forms: Admission applications typically ask whether you plan to apply for financial aid. If the answer is yes, the school will give you instructions on how to apply. The facts and figures required on these applications are very similar to the information reported on federal income tax forms.

Wish the application process was easier?

Check with your selected private schools to see if they accept the Standard Application Online (SAO)

The SAO simplifies the process of applying to private schools by allowing you to submit your information, essays, transcripts, and recommendations once to any school that accepts it. That means you just need one set of electronically submitted documents, no matter how many schools to which you apply.

Whether using the SAO or not, the best way to ensure you have all private school application components ready is to start the admission process early. When you’re prepared, the pathway to your best-fit school is a much more straightforward journey! 

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