Private School Admission Decisions 101: Everything to Know (And More)

Class is in session, and the first lesson is that private school admission decisions typically result in one of three outcomes—accepted, waitlisted (or wait pooled), or denied. Each scenario has different factors to consider, and we’ve packed our syllabus with a decision process outline, an insightful #admissionchat, and advice articles. Is that your hand up in the back? Check out our parent questions.

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3 Things to Know Before You Begin

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Be prepared.

Apply to multiple schools with varying acceptance rates to increase the chance of a positive outcome. Discuss the possible scenarios as a family to mentally prepare for the decisions to come.

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It's okay to ask.

If you have questions about a school’s admission criteria, acceptance rate, or waitlist policies, don’t hesitate to ask its admissions team. They are there to help!

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Keep an open mind.

Admission denials are heartbreaking, but they may also be a blessing in disguise, as the school often identifies that it isn’t a good fit for the student.

Admission Decision Process

The following outline details the traditional private school application review process. Please note that timelines may vary by school and geographic region, and some schools operate on a rolling admissions model where these steps are continuous.


Application Deadline

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The private school application deadline for most schools operating a traditional admissions timeline falls between mid-December to mid-February, with January 15 as the most common date. Many Canadian schools have October 31 or early-November deadlines. Schools also vary on late-submission policies—for example, most will accept January SSAT scores after the deadline. Given these variances, it's critical to double-check deadline dates and policies for each school.


Candidate Review

After thoroughly reviewing each application for completeness, schools thoroughly review each applicant's candidacy. Candidate review typically occurs during February into early March for traditional-timeline schools, but for schools with November application deadlines it can occur as early as November and December. Most schools have a committee of admission officers and others from various departments who weigh all aspects of a candidate’s application to determine whether the student and school are a good fit.


Admission Decision Letters

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The magic date for families to receive admission decisions from most private schools on the traditional timeline is usually in early spring, with the week of March 10 being the most common. Canadian schools are often the exception as many give decisions in November. Schools will provide admission decisions and financial aid awards together so families have the information necessary to make enrollment decisions.


Revisit Days

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Many private schools offer revisit days and open houses in March and early April to help families make their enrollment decisions. Try to line up visits on days when an activity of interest, like a musical performance or athletic event, is taking place. Check out more tips for making the most out of revisit days.


Enrollment Decisions

Private schools typically require enrollment decisions and deposits in early to mid-April, providing families anywhere from two weeks to a month to weigh their options between acceptances, waitlists, and financial aid awards. Canadian schools with November decision letters typically require enrollment choices by late December. Review our parent questions and advice articles to learn more about waitlists and your options.


Waitlist Decisions

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Schools typically start making enrollment offers to waitlisted students in late spring and early summer after they’ve processed all commitments from accepted and returning students. Waitlisted notifications are ongoing as a waitlisted student offered enrollment may accept or decline, in which case another student would subsequently receive an offer. It’s even possible to receive an offer after school has started if a student backs out of their enrollment commitment.

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Let's Talk About Admission Decisions

Listen to Randie Benedict from St. Anne's-Belfield School and Kitsana Salyphone from the Enrollment Management Association field parent questions on everything from waitlists to financial aid appeals.

Let’s get going!

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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.