The admission process for most schools begins the Fall before your child enters school. Every school manages the admissions process differently. There are however areas of consistency for most schools: almost every school requires an application and assessment test (the “ERB”) and notify families of admissions decisions at around the same time. All schools will offer a tour and/or open house and most will also include parent and student interviews as part of the application process.
Navigating through a specific school’s website or using other resources can help you learn about the different schools and their processes.
Identify Your Options
- Consider the factors that are most important to you including proximity to your home, program hours, and program offering, reputation, fit, etc.
- Talk to child’s current school, friends, and neighbors, and use print and on-line resources to identify schools that meet your primary criteria.
- All schools have an on-line presence where families can learn more about the school offerings.
- Some useful resources include the ISAAGNY, The Parents League, and Victoria Goldman’s The Manhattan Directory of Private and Selective Public Schools.
- Families living in the Greenwich Village area or those seeking a school near NYU will find a list of school in close proximity here.
- Compile a list of 6-10 schools that you are interested in pursuing. The number of schools will depend upon a number of factors including whether you are looking in one or more geographical areas, the type of school, and need for financial aid, and more.
- Review the ISAAGNY website to familiarize yourself with the admissions procedures that all member schools follow.
- Schedule your child for the ISEE administered by the ERB at their NYC midtown office or satellite offices by using their on-line scheduler. The earlier you schedule the test, the more choice you will have for a date and time of your choosing.
- Consider establishing a special calendar, checklist, or chart to help you stay on track. ISAAGNY offers an easy to use checklist to use or modify.
- All schools have an on-line presence and many provide a downloadable admissions application. There are, however, some schools that require families to call the day after Labor Day to request an application which can be picked-up, mailed, and in some cases, emailed. The schools that offer the application on-line may make the application available on or before Labor Day.
- Complete the application as soon as possible. In most cases, the application will trigger invitations to tours and scheduling of interviews. All supplemental materials - teacher letters of recommendation, test results, and school reports - will follow in the coming weeks and months. Be sure to keep careful track of the application deadlines.
- Early in the semester, ask your teachers - usually math and English - to write letters of recommendations. Some schools may also request that you submit a graded writing sample; have your child select one written at either the end of the previous year or during the Fall of the current year that s/he thinks is a good representation of his schoolwork.
- Most schools require that an application file be complete by late Fall. Be sure you make a note of each individual school’s deadline for all materials. An incomplete packet may signal lack of interest. If you might run into a problem meeting a deadline, talk with the school’s Admissions’ Office.
- Financial aid applications can be sent in last but must be submitted within the stated time frames.
The Tour/Open House
- After turning in your application, depending on the school, you will be able to set up a tour. If at all possible, it is preferable for both parents to attend.
- Schools typically invite families for a specific tour. Try to be flexible. However, if the time does not work do not hesitate to explore an alternate date and time.
- Be sure to be on time, turn off your cell phone, listen attentively, and ask questions that show interest.
Parent and Student Interview
- After turning in your application, depending on the school, you may have to set up a tour and/or a student interview where your high school child will be observed with a group of peers in the classroom or one-on-one. Many schools will administer their own assessment test on this same day. Remind your child that this is their chance to experience the school more intimately and will help them assess if the school is a one that they would like to attend.
- Parent interviews continue to be part of the admissions process for high school. There are, however, a handful of schools that will not interview parents.
- Interviews provide a chance for the school to get to know your family better and to determine fit. This is also a special opportunity for you to share information about your child and your family, to consider if you think it is a good fit for your child, and articulate why you think this is a good fit. Use your essay as a guide.
- Be sure to dress professionally, be on time, turn off your cell phone, and actively participate in the exchange.
- A brief thank you note written following the interview is a welcome addition to your admissions file and gives your child another chance to say why s/he is a good candidate for the school.
The Assessment/Placement Test
- Nearly all private high schools will require that the applicant take an admissions test popularly known the “ERB” named for the organization that administers the test, the Educational Records Bureau. The evaluation, for grades 4-12, is known as the Independent School Entrance Exam, or commonly as, the ISEE. The ISEE is administered in NYC at the ERB offices (220 East 42nd Street).
- If you are applying from a location outside the NYC metro area, or from an international location, you may be able to schedule the ISEE at a location near your home. The ERB website includes a search engine for alternative locations and a phone contact. In some cases, schools will accept the SSAT, another assessment test which may be more readily available outside of the NYC metro area. This test is available for students entering grades 6-12.) Be sure to check that the testing date meets the application deadline requirements or that the school(s) you are applying to will accept the SSAT.
- The tests are offered year round. Individuals applying during the normal application period must take the test between the months of April through early January. The test may be taken one time only during each admission cycle.
- Information about the ISEE test including a guide is available on the ERB website.
Letters of Decision or Waitlists
Admissions decisions are typically made by a committee of school administrators and teachers. The primary goal of the admissions committee is to identify those children that are most likely to be successful in the school. As schools reflect on the applications they consider all pieces of the application and are seeking to create a well-balanced community of learners in each grade and throughout the school.
Each school’s website will clearly state the date decisions will be released. Or, for easy reference, you can refer to the ISAAGNY timeline.
If you receive more than one acceptance, it is important that you notify any and all schools that you are not interested to attend that you are declining their offer. Doing this quickly allows the schools to reach out to families on their waitlist.
If you receive more than one acceptance, take advantage of the opportunity to schedule your child to revisit a school or two to help them make their final decision.
If your child is placed on a waitlist at a school that you would like your child to attend, be sure to communicate your interest to the school. Seek guidance from the Admissions Office about suggested and appropriate follow-up.
Signing an Enrollment Agreement
Once you have received a letter of acceptance at a school that you are interested in attending, you will have to decide if this is the right school for your child and if applicable if the financial aid package is adequate.
ISAAGNY’s timeline establishes the date that you must accept an offer of admission. The turnaround time for signing an enrollment contract is usually less than two weeks from the date of notification.
It is important to know that if you sign a contract with an ISAAGNY school, no other ISAAGNY school is allowed to offer you one.