How to Manage Private School Decision Letters
If you are applying to independent schools, the weeks when you receive your decision letters will serve as the culmination of all of the mental, physical, and emotional labor that you have invested in the admission process thus far. In this article, we'll tell you about the different types of letters you may receive and how navigate this exciting time!
Guess post written by Linda Talton, founder of School First
Decisions, decisions, decisions!
If you are applying to independent schools, the weeks when you receive your decision letters will serve as the culmination of all of the mental, physical, and emotional labor that you have invested in the admission process thus far. By now you will have attended open houses, school tours, parent interviews, and attended any number of admission events – all at each school that you are applying to! If you have applied to 5 schools, you have completed approximately 25 tasks! Now it's time for decision letters. Admissions officers have done their due diligence to decide whether your child is a good fit for their schools. In turn, you have had the opportunity to get to know the schools well enough to determine which one is a right fit for your child and your family.
What are the different types of decision letters?
There are three different types of decision letters that you can receive from a school's admission office: an acceptance letter, a waitlist letter, or a deny letter.
An acceptance letter is obviously the most desirable letter to receive.
While an acceptance letter is amazing, it can also come with its own set of complexities. You may even receive more than one acceptance letter, which is wonderful, but then you will have to decide within approximately two weeks which school you will choose. If you are dead set on a school and have already made a deep connection then this will be an easy choice. But with two or even three great school options at hand, the confusion can set in. The good news is that schools allow you to schedule re-visits, meaning you can go back and spend some time at each school you have been accepted to and take another look. This time you will be looking through a more empowered lens, which may alter the way you visualize your child there. If you are accepted to your first choice school and you have no second thoughts about attending, then you should accept the offer fairly quickly. This is a great way to start off on the right foot when it comes to the relationship with your new school!
You could also be accepted to an amazing school, but waitlisted at your first choice school. This is where it can get even more overwhelming and complicated. Schools send waitlist letters because they simply don’t have enough space to accommodate all of the students that they would like to invite to join their school communities. If you receive a waitlist letter from a school that you would really like for your child to attend, you should immediately let the school know that you would like to stay on the waitlist. These lists can move quite slowly the first week that decisions go out, but once families begin to let schools know their decisions, the waitlist begins to move. This is why School First cannot stress enough how important it is to let schools ASAP if you know you are not interested in attending. What I mean by this is, if you have two acceptances and are lucky enough to get off of the waitlist for your first choice school before the deadline to make a commitment, you should bless your first choice school with a resounding “yes,” and let the other school know that you have decided to decline their offer.
If you have only received waitlist letters, do not fret. Waitlists do move. While you are waiting, you can most certainly check in with school periodically to see if there has been movement and to let them know that your interest remains strong. When I say periodically, School First recommends every few days and opposed to every few hours! Your goal during this time is to stay in good standing with the schools and to maintain your “desirable family” status. If you do get that amazing phone call from an admission office telling you that they would really like for you to join their school community, most schools won’t give you more than 24 hours to decide. This is simply because they want to honor the other families that are on the waitlist. They may offer you the opportunity to stop by and visit the school, but this all depends on the school.
Deny letters are absolutely the most difficult letters to receive from any school, but particularly if it is from a school that you felt very connected to. Admission offices rarely give deny letters, so when they do it’s because they feel strongly that their school is not the right school for your child and family. These letters are not negotiable so there’s no reason to contact the admission office. If you do receive a deny letter, you should immediately redirect your energy and focus on the acceptance or waitlist letters.
5 Tips for Successfully Navigating Decision Period
- Do not spend all of your time with other families going through the admission process. You will have no time to think or talk about other things. Give yourself a break and do something fun!
- Spend time together discussing this as a family. These decisions are deeply personal and what you think is the perfect school for your child might not be for someone else’s.
- Try very hard to avoid asking friends what schools their children got into. Some families will not have received acceptance letters in the first week, so allow them to share in their own time. This is a sensitive topic.
- If possible, get away for the weekend after receiving the decisions.
- Remind you children of how amazing they are! If they don’t get into their first choice school, or your first choice school for them, it wasn’t meant to be. They will land in their right fit school; a school that really understands and appreciates them.
Once you have come to the end of your decision making period and have landed in your new school home, celebrate! This has been a meaningful but arduous process and everyone in the family deserves a generous pat on the back.