If you are considering an independent school in Toronto, you may have applied to several schools or have a top choice. No matter how many schools you have applied to, navigating the independent school admission process and then making an admission decision can be confusing and stressful. As the Common Offer Date approaches, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
Common Offer Date
Many independent schools in Toronto adhere to a “Common Offer Date”. For the 2018 admission cycle, the Common Offer Date is February 23, 2018. What’s great about this arrangement among these competitive schools is applicants (who often apply to more than one of these schools) can consider all of their options at the same time. For many students and parents, “Decision Week” can be a stressful time – especially if an applicant doesn’t get an offer to their top choice school.
There are three general admission decision outcomes: Offer, Waitpool, or Reject.
Managing Offers. Students applying to more than one school may find themselves in the enviable position of being offered places at several. If the student has a clear top choice school, the decision is easy. However, in cases where applicants like different schools equally for different reasons and struggle to decide between them with multiple offers, your family may need to revisit your list of reasons for selecting a particular school. A prioritized checklist may help you make a decision. You could also request to speak to a particular teacher, coach, current student, or current family at the school.
Stickhandling a Waitpool Decision. It’s vitally important for families to understand that being given a waitpool decision does not mean that the applicant is not qualified or mission appropriate for the school. Independent schools receive many more applications than there are spaces available, and admission committees are tasked with the difficult job of determining who to offer a place to and who to place in the waitpool. Some of the things considered when making these decisions include:
- Gender balance is important. This is critical in co-ed schools and most have policies related to gender balance. The York School, for example, will not go past a 60:40 ratio in either direction even if it means a smaller class in the end or having to waitpool exceptional applicants.
- Does the applicant already have a sibling at the school or is the applicant’s sibling also applying to the school? Most admission committees give preference to sibling and legacy applications to keep siblings together in the same school whenever possible.
- Looking for diversity in the classroom. What is the applicant’s learning style, personality, and interests? What have they done to “stand out” from their peers? The admission committee is looking to build classes with a blend of academic abilities, introverts and extroverts, and students passionate about the arts and/or STEM.
Remember that a waitpool is not a “top-of-the-list, first-in list”. Waitpools are made up of unranked, mission-appropriate applicants and admission committees will revisit their waitpool and select the most desirable applicants based on all the considerations outlined above. Make sure to let a school know if you want to stay or be removed from their waitpool.
Dealing with Rejection. If after reviewing an applicant’s complete file (including report cards and admission interview results), the admission committee at a school concludes that the applicant is not mission appropriate (most often due to academic, language proficiency, behavioural, or philosophical mismatch), the family will be notified that the school will not be offering the applicant a place. While this is not an outcome anyone wants, the best way to avoid a rejection is to do your research on the front end.
We wish all applicants and their families all the best as they navigate admission decisions on the Common Offer Date.