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How many private schools should I apply to?

Last updated: 
October 24, 2023

When applying to private schools, the general rule of thumb is to submit applications to three to five schools, and as many as eight to 10 in competitive markets; however, consider the following factors. 

Acceptance Rates

The competition for enrollment varies greatly amongst private schools. Many highly regarded schools, especially boarding schools that have adopted test-optional admissions, are receiving record numbers of qualified applicants, reducing the chances of enrollment.

Not every school discloses its acceptance rate, but it’s okay to ask them to better understand the admission competition. Try not to get discouraged. While applying to more than five schools when seeking admission to institutions with lower acceptance rates is an option, the better strategy is to diversify your applications by including a mix of good-fit schools with higher acceptance rates.

The private school landscape is filled with a vast array of outstanding educational opportunities, and ultimately, the experience and growth afforded at these schools matter far more than the institution’s name. Use our Private School Search to find schools by your preferred criteria.

Geographic Location

The geographic area you’re interested in, whether for day schools near home or boarding schools in a desired region, will impact the school options.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Financial aid packages are essential for many families, the necessity of which may lead you to expand your application pool. Keep in mind that application and admission testing fees also add up quickly, and if this is a barrier, you can ask the school about fee waivers. 

When applying to rolling admission schools, submit your application as soon as possible because financial aid is also typically awarded on a rolling basis and may run out.

Time Investment

Each school you apply to is a significant time investment between attending open houses and interviews, completing admission and financial aid applications, requesting transcripts and recommendations, and writing parent statements and student essays.

The good news is that you can save time applying to schools that accept the Standard Application Online, submitting one set of information and the same essay to each school. 

Learn more:

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Save time applying to private schools with the Standard Application Online. Apply to any of over 400 participating schools with one set of documentation and a single student essay.