Hopefully everyone will soon be receiving good news in their mailboxes from the schools they have applied to for fall 2016 admission.
Private school admission is super competitive, and very often schools simply have more applicants than they have seats available for new students. Sometimes schools like an applicant very much, but they just do not have space for them. When this happens they will often wait list a student.
Parents often ask me what this means, and when will they find out if their child will get off the wait list and be admitted to the school. This is tough, because some schools have a lot of movement on the wait list, and some schools have no movement. The short answer is it depends. It depends on who turns them down.
Schools often do not number students on a wait list. Many private schools are trying to balance their class. For co-ed schools they look for gender balance between male and female students. Schools often look for diversity in race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, family makeup, and a myriad of other factors. They also look to balance the artists, the athletes, the poets, the budding scientists, the math enthusiasts, the musicians, the actors and actresses, and the kids who love history.
If a violinist who plays tennis and is on the math team turns the school down, then they look to the wait list to see who else might fit this role. If your child fits the gap(s) they are looking to fill, then they may be offered a spot in the class starting next fall. Admissions staff have told me some years they need soccer players, some years they need violinists, and some years they need to beef up the math team. Sometimes it is pure luck that moves a student off the wait list and into the school.
Once thing I have seen work very successfully in the past is for both the parent and the student (separately) to write a sincere letter to the admissions officer who signed the wait list letter, expressing a desire to remain on the wait list, and reiterating why the school is a great fit for the student. The letter should include specific reasons why the school is a good fit for the student (mention classes, clubs, teams, activities, etc., in which the student would make a valuable contribution to the school). More than one admission director has mentioned that a well crafted and sincere letter is what swayed them to admit the student off the wait list.
Look at being wait listed as another opportunity to convince the school why your child would excel there, and don’t give up hope. Most schools have a deadline for when new students must pay a deposit and accept the offer of admission. Ask when this deadline is for the school which your child has been wait listed. This will give you a sense of when there may be some movement on the wait list.
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