When your child is applying to private school, their grades and test scores, along with their extracurriculars and letters of recommendation, may seem like the only deciding factors. However, private schools are looking for more than a “perfect student.” Everyone applying to these private schools will have stellar grades and test scores, but private schools are looking for more. They want to admit students who will fill the gaps in their student body in order to develop the perfect balance in the incoming class. Honing private school applications is key in achieving admission to your school of choice.
Private schools have small class sizes, and each year, students leave and create a gap in some program. Either the lacrosse team lost their star player, or the Biology department needs more students with an interest in this field, or the choir doesn’t have enough sopranos. There are specific gaps that they are looking to fill, and the applicants that meet their specific needs will be the ones to rise to the top of the admission pile.
The problem is, how can you know which gaps the private schools your child is applying to are looking to fill? You can’t. What you can do, however, is highlight the specific strengths that your child holds, cultivating a profile for your child that sets them apart. Being a stellar student is not enough, because that will be expected across all applicants. But your job as a parent is to isolate and cultivate the special skills your child has.
This starts early. If your child wants to help their community, make sure community service, and especially leadership positions, are prominent in their profile. If your child wants to pursue a musical instrument, or a particular sport, hone these skills. Work with your child to figure out what it is that makes them shine, and make sure to provide as many opportunities as possible for them to gain experience. Schools are not looking for a student who has tried everything once. They are looking for a student with passion, who has proven they will do what it takes to excel in their chosen skill.
This is how you create a package for the admissions office about who your child is. Your child cannot be perfect, because no one is, so that is not the way to present your child. Show who your child is and what they are passionate about, so that you can fill the gaps in the private schools where they will be needed. This is not a ploy to sneak your child into school. This is a way to ensure that your child will be placed in an environment where their skills and interests are what set them apart, and that they will not be just one more perfect student in a perfect school. They will grow into the person they strive to be.