For parents moving into a new area and considering
an independent school for their
child for the first time, the admissions process
can seem both daunting and confusing.
Where do you begin? How does it work? What
needs to happen when? While each school’s procedure
may vary, understanding some of the common
steps will make the admissions process less
While some schools administer their own testing, two common assessment tests schools use to evaluate potential students are the Joint Admissions Testing Program (JATP), used to evaluate children in grades kindergarten through five, and the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT), primarily for students in grades six through 12. The JATP is an aptitude test designed to measure the candidate’s ability to learn and is administered on a one-to-one basis by an approved, licensed psychologist. It is up to you to make an appointment with the psychologist for the evaluation. Early contact is strongly recommended to ensure an appointment. Afterward, the student’s test results will be sent directly to schools of your choice.
If you have an older child, the SSAT (www.ssat.org) may be required for admission. It is again your responsibility to register your child for a test date. Results are released to schools about two weeks after the test.
INTERVIEWS / GROUP OBSERVATIONS
After the applications are in, each school should contact you about setting up an appointment time for an interview, which allows administrators and faculty to get to know your child better. Also, many schools organize small-group observation times that allow your child to interact with their potential peers. This is an excellent way to see first-hand whether your child would fit in within this particular school environment, so if the admissions office does not require an observation time, then ask whether one can be set up.
In early April, schools usually will send out their acceptance, wait-list and denial letters. If a school has accepted your child, you usually have about two weeks to accept or decline the invitation. If your child is wait-listed by a top choice, then be sure to let the school know that you continue to be seriously interested. Simply make a call or send an e-mail, as admissions directors may interpret silence from a wait-listed family as disinterest.
Once your child has been accepted into a school that reflects his or her personality and goals, it is now time to become part of the school’s community. Some schools offer programs in which new families are paired with a current family so that there is a parent resource to contact during the summer and the first year of school, which is particularly helpful to those moving into a new area. Schools may also hold summer events for parents and children to help them get familiar with the school before the new year begins. The Trinity School in Atlanta and The Heritage School in Newnan both host ice cream socials in the summer. Be sure to find out what programs are offered so that you can participate and get to know your child’s new school.