Here's what is needed at most schools:
- Have good grades and test scores.
- Be able to do the academic work.
- Fit into the school community.
- Offer everything the school is looking for.
Have Good Grades and Test Scores.
The purpose of admissions testing is to determine what your child already has learned as well as her potential for learning. Good grades and recommendations from her current school are important evidence that she will be able to do the academic work.
If you are applying for 10th grade which is what most people do, then the school will want to see certified transcripts of your previous three years' academic work. Recommendations from key teachers such as your English and math teachers are required. Why do they need these? The admissions staff uses all this data and information to identify any gaps in your learning to date, to review your achievements and accomplishments, but most of all, to determine your state of preparation for the rigorous academic work which most private schools offer.
Be Able to Do the Academic Work.
Most private high schools expect your child to be able to do some serious academic work. That's because normally their mission is to prepare your child for college. Most college prep schools offer an extensive array of Advanced Placement courses. Some offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma program as well. The academic work is demanding. You will need to prove to the school that you are up to the task and that you want to work hard.
Fit Into the School Community.
Fitting into the school community is perhaps the most important part of getting into private school. If the school is not a good fit for your child, there's probably not much point in applying, no matter how good you think the school is. The last thing you would want is for her to get in and then discover your child are miserable. The secret to choosing the right school is finding the best fit for your child. You will look at fit from your perspective. The school will consider it from its perspective.
Offer Everything the School is Looking for.
Read carefully what the school expects of its applicants. Review the material on the school's website. The school will usually lay out its philosophy and mission pretty clearly. If you have a consultant, he will tell you if your child has what the school is looking for. When you visit the school, get answers to anything you aren't sure of.
By the way, if you have relatives who have attended or are presently attending the school, you will be considered a legacy. A legacy almost always gets preferential treatment simply because the school knows the family.
The most important part of getting in to a private school is to match what you offer with what the school is looking for. Get the fit right and you will have a happy child.