Waitlisted. Now what?

Written by: Erin Woodhams

Rejuvenating your school search post admission decisions.

First things first- take a deep breath! Your child WILL be enrolled in school next fall. I promise.

You are on the waitlist of your top private or public school. What does that mean? I would recommend following up with the school directly to find out. Things to keep in mind:

  • Waitlist vs. Waitpool: A waitlist implies that there is a ranking. If it is a waitlist, can the school provide you with your child’s rank? A waitpool implies being unranked. If the pool is unranked, then spaces are filled based on the needs of the cohort. Translation: If there are 20 students enrolled in Kindergarten in a school that seeks to maintain a gender balance, then that school would be more likely to fill a “girl space” with a girl.
  • Timing: Many independent schools have contract binding dates. A contract binding date refers to the date in which a family will be liable for a partial or full tuition payment to the school. Some schools have enrollment agreements that are binding upon signing; others have a few weeks to a month built in. Binding dates tend to be dates around which many schools see movement in their enrollment. The date of the first tuition payment is also a time during which schools see fluctuation in their enrollment.
  • Lack of crystal ball: Many admission directors can give advice based on their past experiences, but no one can predict the exact timing or likelihood of movement from the waitlist.

Based on the information that you have collected about the waitlist/waitpool process and potential projected timing, you will have to assess if those factors work for your schedule and expectations. If yes, then keep following up- it never hurts to be on the admission director’s mind when movement occurs! If the answer is no, it is time to expand your school search.

Reflect on the qualities that made the aforementioned school your favorite to begin with. Was it the educational approach? The student/teacher ratio? The school community? Use these qualities as the building blocks to widen your school search. NPN is hosting a “Hidden Treasures” School Panel on April 15, which is a great place to start! Additionally, NPN’s School Directory is customizable by type of school and area of the city or suburbs. Based on your search results, you can begin reaching out to schools to see if they are still accepting applications for next fall. Many schools, including the British School of Chicago, will continue to accept rolling applications throughout the spring and summer months. The rolling admission process tends to move a little quicker than the traditional process, so be prepared to complete your application and the subsequent steps in the process within a few weeks’ time.

Just remember-- you will end up in the right school for you and your child. Best of luck in your (newly expanded) search!

Erin Walsh is the Director of Admissions and Marketing at British School of Chicago’s new South Loop campus opening August 2015. The British School of Chicago (BSC) is a vibrant international school that values ambitions based learning delivered through globally acclaimed curricula and a highly personalized approach. Serving children ages 3 to 18, BSC is committed to equipping our students with the skills, knowledge and understanding they will need to succeed in an increasingly global world. Erin has worked in independent school admissions for the last eight years in Chicago and is thrilled to join the BSC team at such an exciting time in the school’s history. As a soon-to-be first time mom, Erin is spending her free time reading every blog and forum post on NPN!

Posted on April 10, 2015 at 4:27 PM