School Choice

What to Expect When You Hear Back From Schools

What to Expect When You Hear Back From Schools
February 2, 2024

When February rolls around, it’s finally time: you’ll hear back from the schools you applied to and have to make a choice about the best fit for your family. Many parents see application deadlines as the finish line and assume that the decision-making process is the easy part, but be prepared: making your final choice is often the most difficult part of the admissions journey! \

To help get you ready for this final stage of the admissions cycle, we’ve put together some basic guidance on what to expect when you hear back from independent (private) schools, and how to move forward based on the results you receive. 

When Will We Hear Back? 

You’ll hear back at some point in February, depending on the school’s specific admissions timeline. All schools that are members of ISAAGNY operate on a standardized timeline that can be found on the ISAAGNY website here

In general, kindergarten students hear back first in early February. Then, elementary, middle and high school students hear back over the course of the following weeks. And, finally, nursery/pre-K hear back last at the end of February. 

How Will We Hear Back? 

Virtually every school will send you an email letting you know that admissions decisions are now available. Some schools may tell you your decision right within this email; other schools may direct you to log in to your application portal (Ravenna, or a school-specific portal) to look up your decision. \

What Will We Hear? 

Independent schools offer three options for an admissions decision: 

  • Accepted: Straightforward - you were accepted! More details will follow soon about financial information, deposit timelines, and more. 
  • Rejected: Straightforward, but unfortunate - you were not accepted. Try to remember that admissions is a matter of fit, so this school may not have been the best fit for your child and your family. Receiving at least one rejection, often more than one, is a totally normal outcome of this highly competitive process. If your child is old enough to have taken an active role in this admissions journey, use this as a learning opportunity for them: this is a great chance to discuss resilience, bouncing back from hardship, feeling their feelings, etc. Help your child realize that the rejection does not reflect anything about themselves as a person. 
  • Waitlisted: The least straightforward, and usually most stressful, type of decision to receive. Read on in the section below about how to proceed if you are on the waitlist. 

We Were Waitlisted. Now What? 

Learning that you were waitlisted by one of your favorite schools can feel like a defeat, but don’t despair too much: you still have a chance of gaining admission. A waitlist offer means that the admissions team would love to have your child in their school community, but there just wasn’t quite enough room at this point in time. 

Most movement on the waitlist will happen in the weeks immediately following the initial decision notification, because some families will give up their spots when they decide to go with other schools. Because this process moves quickly, you need to move through the following steps just as quickly: 

  • Decide whether you want to remain on the waitlist. Compare all of your offers and assess whether your waitlisted school is your top choice, or if you’d rather choose a different school that offered acceptance.
  • Call the waitlisted school as soon as possible. Whether you want to remain on the waitlist or not, you should call the waitlisted school as soon as possible (or fill out the confirmation form that the school sent along, if applicable) to let them know whether you want to keep your spot or not. If you don’t, you should let your spot go ASAP so another family can benefit from it; if you do, you want to register your interest ASAP so you have a better chance of ultimate acceptance. In this context, “as soon as possible” means ideally within a week of receiving your decision, though the sooner the better. 
  • If this is true, tell the waitlisted school that you will 100% accept a spot if offered. If, and only if, you would 100% choose this school if they offered acceptance, you should tell the school that when you call to retain your waitlist spot. Schools do try to prioritize waitlisted families who have expressed definite interest over waitlisted families that seem more indifferent/have not gotten in touch. 

How Do We Decide? 

We have fuller blog posts like this one that expand on the various factors to consider when choosing the perfect school for your family. In short, take the time to review all of the interactions you’ve had with all of the schools and carefully weigh everything you’ve learned. Though it sounds simple, it can often be really helpful to make a simple pro/con list! 

You can also use re-visit opportunities to further assess a school’s fit. The opportunity to sign up for re-visit days is typically offered alongside your acceptance offer or shortly thereafter, so it won’t be long before you get another chance to tour the school, ask more questions, and really visualize whether your child would fit there. 

The final decision-making process can feel very overwhelming. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that it’s a privilege: you usually only have a hard decision to make if you have a number of excellent schools to choose between, which is a very good problem to have. While this decision will undoubtedly have a major influence on your child’s life in the short term, remember that kids are resilient, and their long-term success and happiness almost definitely do not rest upon this single decision alone. They will be just fine - you and your family will be just fine - and soon you can enjoy the bliss of being wrapped up with the admissions process! 

If you need additional support when choosing a school, consider Admit NY’s Admissions Decision Package. We offer a short-term consultative option that is proven to be effective in getting you from offers to matriculation with less stress and more confidence. Learn more here