Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

On the School Waitlist? Keep Calm and Carry On

Desks await for next year’s crop of students. Photo courtesty of comedy_nose via photopin

Okay so you’re on the wait list.  The clock is ticking and for every day that passes you are imagining all those names above yours being told that they’ve made it in, and you are panicking. But wait!  Before you throw in the towel and collapse on the kitchen floor with a cheap bottle of Chardonnay there are things you can do to help you . Keep calm and carry on. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re stuck in the “wait list” vortex!

First of all know that being on a wait list generally means that your child has met most of the criteria for the school you are applying to.  When I say met most of the criteria, it might be that unfortunately your child wasn’t a boy! or that your child was born in January and not June.  You get the idea.  Please keep in mind that it could have been a flat out “no.”  So that wait list letter is a really positive step in the right direction.

That girl I was talking about, the one that got a spot in the school you want, well it turns out that she might not be taking it after all.  The family is being transferred last minute to Boston so it’s back on the market…Yay!  So your job is to call every few days to let them know  you will take the spot if offered one.  Please don’t call every school you’re wait-listed  on and say the same thing though.  Schools do talk among themselves, and you want to be honest.  Imagine the pickle you’d be in if two schools got back to you with the offer of a spot.

Another idea.  Have your son or daughter write a heartfelt letter to the school they really want to attend, letting them know why they really want to be at this school and what they will contribute. Of course, don’t have your  2 1/2 year old toddler scribble one!

Another thing to think about is your level of entry. The school loved you as a family, your interview was a hit, your application got full marks but your child’s letters of recommendation from school were weak, or maybe things didn’t go so great at his/her assessment or there were low test scores.  But over and over again the teachers said that your child has great potential. Perhaps a way to get off the wait list and into the school is to bring up the idea of holding your child back and having him/her redo a grade.  Sometimes that can really make sense to everyone and a space opens up.

Begin to make a back up plan.  That can often become the plan that is the right fit.  Over the years I have counseled many families who are in the position you’re in right now and sometimes my advice is to move into a good public school district when we’ve decided that a private school may not be an option.  More often than not the family finds that they’re very happy and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in school fees.  If you do decide to go down the public school route, I say this EVERY time….please pretend that you are paying a small tuition and put that money away for their future education.  Oh and with all the extra money you save, build that pool you’ve always wanted!

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Fiona Whitney
Fiona Whitney

Fiona Whitney is the author of three successful school guides all published under The Whitney Guide series, about preschool, private and public elementary education in Los Angeles. As a School Consultant she has a stellar record of placing children in the top schools in LA and beyond. Fiona has lived in Hancock Park for over 20 years and raised her two children through the private and public systems. She will be contributing a series of stories for the Buzz on educating children in Los Angeles.

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