The Application Process

Admissions is multifaceted, time-consuming, and unique to each school. Bear in mind that each component is designed to find the best possible school environment. Please find below relevant information, resources, and advice; this comprehensive overview will clarify the best next steps for your child and your family. 

 

INFORMATION

 

  • TIMELINE 
    • Some schools accept applications and conduct interviews based on a numerical limit (total number of received applications), while others do so based on a chronological deadline (fixed end date). 
    • Universally observed parent notification and response deadlines are a crucial component of an equitable and organized admissions process. Please see ISAAGNY's Notification and Reply Dates
    • NOTE: Schools with birthday cutoffs adhere strongly to these dates; do not anticipate exceptions. 

 

  • OPEN HOUSES and ADMISSIONS EVENTS 
    • Most ISAAGNY schools host admissions events to introduce applicants to their unique mission, values, pedagogy, and culture.
    • Call the relevant office at each school to learn more about planned admissions events. 

 

  • INTERVIEWS // Most schools meet with applicants during the admissions process. These visits provide an opportunity for applicants--and their families--to learn more about a school, and for admissions professionals to learn more about each candidate. Familiarizing yourself with the details of each school's process will position you and your child to prepare accordingly. Note that some schools have limited slots for interviews, and accordingly, do not offer a choice of date. 
    • YOUNGER STUDENTS
      • Students applying to younger grades might be in a small group or one on one with an admissions officer. 
      • Students may or may not be asked to separate. If your child separates successfully, stay close by; admissions officers are not babysitters, and children may find it distressing if you are not there when their meeting finishes. If your child struggles to separate, stay calm! Admissions officers are accustomed and sensitive to the dynamic, and will provide you with guidance. You might be invited to join, in which case it's important to remember the division of roles: your child is the applicant, while you are the support system. Alternatively, you might be encouraged to bring your child back on a different day. 
      • While each school’s visit is distinct from another’s, the visits are grounded in theory and research on child development. The children engage in developmentally appropriate and child-friendly activities, and the educators who engage with the children have an extensive knowledge of both child development and what “readiness” means at their school.
    • OLDER STUDENTS
      • Students applying to older grades are often asked to visit a current class during the school day. 
    • VIRTUAL INTERVIEWS
      • The pandemic has made it difficult for schools to safely conduct in-person interviews; most have redesigned their admissions processes accordingly. 
      • Ahead of the meeting, choose a comfortable place with sufficient lighting, minimal background noise, and a strong internet connection. Prepare your child, formulate questions, take notes, and dress as though you were attending an in-person meeting. Log on five minutes ahead of time. 
      • If your connection is interrupted or technology otherwise fails, stay calm! Admissions officers are well-acquainted with the difficulty of navigating digital interfacing. 

 

  • SCHOOL RECORDS // An official record or transcript - or its equivalent - is a fundamental part of all admissions files; ISAAGNY schools do not formally enroll a student without first receiving his or her official transcript from the student's present school.
    • ISAAGNY schools share the same form for various age levels. Sending schools should, accordingly, be able to fill in one form and submit it to multiple schools.
    • School report materials are confidential between the sending and receiving schools. 

 

  • "FIRST CHOICE LETTERS" and LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION 
    • Formal expression of "first choice" shall not be solicited by either sending or receiving member schools of ISAAGNY; accordingly, "first choice letters" shall not be requested. Member schools may ask sending schools whether they are one of the family's top three choices. 
    • If schools do not request letters of recommendation, it is not necessary to send them. 

 

  • TESTING
    • Independent schools use standardized tests as one measure to help distinguish applicants. While younger students do not necessarily need to prepare for the tests, they benefit from advance notice about what to expect. Older students, on the other hand, are more likely to actively prepare; their assessments are designed to be more academically challenging. 
    • Some ISAAGNY schools participate in a fee waiver program with ERB and EMA. 
    • Make sure to list each school to which you have applied to receive reports directly from the Educational Records Bureau (ISEE) or the Enrollment Management Association (SSAT); the parent copy will not be accepted. 

 

  • SIBLING and LEGACY APPLICANTS
    • A sibling applicant is the brother or sister of a current student at the school to which the sibling is applying. The definition of "legacy" will vary from school to school, though it typically refers to an applicant who is related to a graduate of a given school.
    • Call the admissions office to determine each school's policy of Early Notification for sibling and legacy applicants.
    • An applicant may qualify as a sibling or legacy at more than one school, and accordingly, may request Early Notification at more than one school.
      • If you accept such an Early Notification offer, you must notify and withdraw from all other schools at which applications are pending. 
      • Admissions officers may not ask families - or directors of their sending schools - if an applicant has requested Early Notification at another school. 
    • Consider notifying admissions personnel if you qualify for, but choose not to request, Early Notification. 
    • Please see ISAAGNY's Early Notification Dates.

 

  • AFFORDING INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS 
    • APPLICATION FEE
      • Be aware of each school's application fee, as well as any policies regarding a waiver of that fee.  
    • TUITION
      • Most ISAAGNY schools are non-profit organizations; tuition fees cover a significant portion of the school's budget, while fundraising, endowments, and other sources of revenue cover the balance. The mandate to provide the highest quality education, therefore, means that independent schools' tuition fees are often high. 
      • Tuition and fees vary greatly from school to school, and sometimes, from grade to grade. In comparing costs, consider a variety of factors: the hours of operation, whether before- or after-school care is offered, whether additional fees apply for meals/books/transportation/activities are included, and so on.  
      • For an additional fee, some ISAAGNY schools offer tuition insurance. 
    • FINANCIAL AID
      • Each school has its own financial aid process; call the relevant office at each school to learn about the required forms and deadlines. Refer to the Questions for Admissions Directors (below) for more specific questions. 
      • Many schools subscribe to outside services, such as SSS or TADS, to determine the need level of potential financial aid recipients. These analyses are based on your submitted documents, such as recent tax forms. 
      • Financial aid decisions are generally made during - or soon after - the admissions notification period. 
      • Note that financial aid is not a loan, and will not have to be paid back by the family. 
      • While most schools exclusively offer need-based aid, there may be other ways to help make an independent school affordable. Some schools offer scholarships based on other criteria, and still others offer sibling discounts. Tuition payment plans or financing options may also be available. Again, ISAAGNY encourages you to call the relevant office at each school to learn more. 

 

 

RESOURCES

 

  • Admissions Checklist // Keep track of applications, school representatives, and requirements.  

 

  • Questions for Admissions Directors // Ask thoughtful questions to determine if a particular school is a fit for your child and your family. While you need not memorize each school's admissions literature or website, you should read provided materials ahead of time. 

 

 

ADVICE and BEST PRACTICES

 

  • Apply only to as many schools as can comfortably fit into your schedule. 
  • Be sensitive to and respectful of the schools to which you apply: observe deadlines for submissions, keep scheduled appointments, and arrive promptly for events. 
  • If you or your child is sick on the day of a scheduled in-person admissions event, reschedule. 
  • APPLYING STUDENTS cannot be required to...
    • provide the names of other schools to which they are applying, 
    • submit a first-choice letter, or 
    • sign and submit a contract before the end of the reply period. 
  • ENROLLED STUDENTS have the right to...
    • consider other educational options, and 
    • decide on their options until the reply deadline for the grade to which they are applying.  
  • Most importantly, we encourage you to exhale, relax, and enjoy this process. Take advantage of the opportunity to visualize your child in each new environment. Can you imagine him or her roaming the hallways, collaborating with the students, learning from the teachers? Remember: greater New York offers wonderful educational opportunities. This is an exciting and pivotal moment!