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Families come to the admission process at different times of the year, so it is important that you are communicate with the individual schools that interest you to make sure you understand the process. Generally speaking, the typical admissions season occurs in the fall and winter.
Sept-Jan: Gathering of information
- Schools have Open Houses, Tours, and Information Sessions to promote their programs and welcome families to explore their campuses. Before submitting applications, it is a good idea to explore a variety of schools. From a school’s perspective, this is when they are being interviewed. The goal is to give families a snapshot of what it is like to be a family at their school. Some Open Houses are geared more for kids, some more for adults. Some schools only host tours; some have several events for prospective families.
- Open House events can be found in three main places:
Our Calendar – http://www.pugetsoundindependentschools.org/calendar/
The NWAIS website – NWAIS Open House Calendar
Each school’s website – http://www.pugetsoundindependentschools.org/schools/
- Take time after each event and reflect with your student: what was appealing, what didn’t you see and needs follow-up, and how did your experiences differ? Most families decide whether or not they are applying to a school shortly after their Open House experience.
Dec-Jan: Apply to Schools
- Once you have decided which schools you’d like to pursue, it’s time to start applications. You will probably notice that the PSIS schools share some deadlines and use some common forms. However, some deadlines will be different from school to school (especially for financial aid). It can be helpful to put all of these deadlines on your home calendar or create a document with all of the pertinent deadlines.
- It might help to complete the applications in pieces. Using your deadline calendar, first complete the basic application for each school and submit the application fee. Sending in the basic application without the supplemental materials gets the process started, and it also allows the schools to contact you to arrange student or parent interviews. If application fees are a challenge for your family, contact the Financial Aid officers at the schools to request a fee waiver.
- Essays: Essays are usually required for Middle and High Schools. Schools compare these polished home essays (they should represent the student’s best schoolwork) to the essay prompt the students write in the ISEE or the SSAT. Home essays should be the student’s own work and should be edited and revised. Admissions officers can tell when a parent has helped too much. Ask your student questions about what they wrote so they can clarify their main points.
- Visits and Interviews: In many cases, there will be observation days required for your student to complete the application process. Some schools allow parents to select their visit day, and others will contact you to schedule a date for an observation day or interview after you submit your basic application. Some schools observe or interview just the student; other schools also interview the parents/guardians. The true purpose of these visits is to get to know your child better and to assess their readiness for the school program. The parent interview is also another way for parents to learn more about each school one-on-one.
Feb-March: Receive admissions decisions
- PSIS schools will send out admissions decisions in February and March. High Schools have the option to notify families of decisions in February. Elementary schools, middle schools, and some high schools deliver decisions in March on a common date.
- After the standard admission season is over, schools may accept applications on a rolling admission basis. This typically occurs if they still have space to fill in a grade or if the family would like to be in the school’s wait pool. Rolling admission means the school will make an admission decision as soon as they have a complete file.
End of March: Pick your school and get excited!
- With your acceptance letter, you will receive an enrollment contract. Schools require a signed enrollment contract and deposit check to secure your child’s space for the coming year.
Opportunities to engage
The admissions timeline for PSIS schools is much earlier than the public schools registration process, and since each school is independent, they have slightly different paths to get to know them. When in doubt, contact a school’s admissions office to discover your options. Typical ways to get to know schools are:
Open Houses/Info Sessions
These events are designed to introduce you to each school’s program and philosophy. The structure of these will look and feel different at each school – some have a formal program, others are a self-guided exploration of campus, and others are a combination of both. Pre-registration is required for some schools, so make sure to check each school’s website for details.
Most PSIS schools offer formal tours of their campuses. Usually these are group tours, though some schools also will arrange for an individual tour. The frequency and availability of tours will vary from school to school and will depend on the time of the year.
School fairs are a great way to gather a lot of information about different schools in one place. At PSIS fairs, each school will have its own booth or table with someone to talk to, as well as brochures and other information about that school for you to take home. Puget Sound Independent Schools hosts four school fairs each year:
- Eastside Independent School Fair
Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 2:00-4:00pm
Mercer Island Community Center
- Seattle Independent School Fair
Tuesday, October 14 | 6:00-8:00pm
Northgate Community Center in North Seattle
- Eastside Independent School Fair
- Independent School Fair for People of Color (ISF4POC):
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 | 6:00-8:00pm
New Holly Gathering Hall in Seattle
- Independent School Fair for People of Color (ISF4POC):
All of our schools have websites with plenty of information to consider. To find key information about Puget Sound Independent School dates and events, you can follow one of these links:
Work the Checklist
While PSIS schools use common dates and forms in their applications, each school’s admission process will be unique. Visit school websites and use their links to start each school’s application. Even if your chosen schools all use the Ravenna-hub site to host their applications, the process will be slightly different from school to school. Be sure to track all application elements and deadlines along the way.
Many schools require an entrance exam; most middle and high schools require the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) or the SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test). Once you have decided which schools you are applying to, the next step is to schedule your student to take the required test. Test fee waivers are available from schools directly.
- Registration needs to occur at least two-three weeks before the exam.
- If you child will need accommodations for a learning difference, contact the testing company for help with the needed documentation.
- You can register and pay for tests online:
Many people ask about preparing for the test. It is wise to give your student a chance to experience what kinds of questions they will encounter. The test itself measures skills in a much different manner than the WASL or other standardized tests. Getting a feel for the exam is very valuable. Both the ISEE and the SSAT have resources online for students to familiarize themselves with the test. This basic preparation is well worth your student’s time.
How To Start
More and more families every year are looking for educational options. Small schools, single gender schools, parochial schools… all come at a cost, and all schools want to make this education affordable to the broadest range of students. When making your initial inquiries regarding admission, be sure to ask about financial aid if that is something you are curious about. Inquiring about financial aid early in the process will insure you are on a school’s mailing list and that you are aware of the different deadlines, materials, and events. It’s important to note that financial aid programs differ from school to school.
Questions To Ask
- Does your financial aid cover 100% of tuition?
- What costs beyond tuition can I expect? (Books, “school fees,” supplies, etc.)
- Does your school offer non-tuition aid? (Books, sports, field trips, transportation, after school programs, clubs, etc.)
- Does the school offer free and reduced lunch?
- Do I have to pay tuition in one lump sum or can I make payments?
- Other than the basic financial aid application, what other documentation do I need to submit to qualify for financial aid?
- What are your deadlines? Are they the same as the admissions application deadlines?
- Will applying for financial aid affect my student’s admissions application?
- If admitted, how would my student’s grades affect his financial aid?
- Do you offer a sibling discount?
What To Do
You should check with each school to determine what their financial aid application process looks like. Most schools in the Seattle area will use a third party financial needs assessment systems, such as School and Student Services (SSS), or Financial Aid for School Tuition (FAST). Schools will provide links to their financial aid applications on their web sites, which is the best way to start.
You are encouraged to be as honest and forthcoming about your family’s financial circumstances as possible to ensure that the financial aid officer can make an accurate assessment of your need. Each school recognizes that all information you provide is of a sensitive and private nature. All correspondence is kept confidential and paperwork remains secure.