November is a month packed with every imaginable obligation, activity, and holiday; eighth grade students and their parents have a double-dose of busy-ness though.  Secondary schools are in the middle of their very active admissions season.  There are many details that must be addressed if you are applying to private schools and these details cannot go unaddressed.  Ignoring them or postponing them may have disastrous results.

When an eighth grade student wants to apply to an independent/private secondary school, he or she needs to begin the process early in the school year, preferably September.  The first action to be taken is to go to the website of the schools that interest you. Take note (better yet, print out) due dates and other important calendar items such as Eighth Grade Days, Open House Days, Practice Test Days, Application Due Dates, Admission Test Days, and Shadow Days).  It is strongly recommended that you reserve a spot as soon as you can for items requiring reservation as they fill up very quickly.

Take note of the application process.  Is the application online or do you need to print copies from the website?  Will applications be available before the actual admissions test or will the applications be distributed to students on the day of the admissions test?  When are teacher recommendations available and when is the first day that the school to which you are applying will accept them?  You do not want your son or daughter’s recommendations to arrive before they are welcome.

Find out if there is an essay that must accompany the application.  If there is, have your son or daughter carefully plan the writing in a thoughtful and well-constructed manner.  Does the essay need to be handwritten on paper?  If so, some penmanship practice might be advisable.

Determine if your son or daughter needs to prepare for the High School Placement Test (HSPT) or other form of an admissions test.  There are plenty of study aids available, but many students find they benefit from more structured preparation, such as that which is available at Peak Academics.  The scores on the admissions test are not only used to gauge a student’s probability of success at a school, but also to determine placement in some classes.  Math and Spanish (or other language) placement tests are given in the spring once a student has been admitted, but placement in English, History, Science, and a few other disciplines can be determined by a student’s performance on the admissions test.

Secondary schools do not simply look at semester grades/transcripts.  Admissions committees also consider student involvement at school, in the community, and in religious or secular organizations.  Committees also look very carefully at the student’s application and essay (if required) and the personal interview (if required).  One very important component of the application process is securing teacher recommendations.  This is a part of the process that is not to be underestimated.

You need to be organized throughout the application process and the teacher recommendation portion is no exception.  Here is a method that works well for securing teacher recommendation is a manner that is kind to all involved:  First, complete and sign the top portion before submitting to the teachers. Remind your child to ask politely if his or her teachers would be willing to complete a form. This should be done well in advance of your son or daughter turning in the recommendation forms.  It is polite and a sign of good manners.

Second, if your school does not have a person who coordinates the distribution of all eighth grade students’ recommendation forms, then you must make a checklist, putting on the list all teachers’ names (the ones you will be asking to fill out recommendation forms) and the registrar’s name.

Third, students should address an envelope from each teacher to each school where a recommendation will be sent.  Each envelope must have a stamp affixed.  Paper clip the envelope to the recommendation form and keep them in a clean folder until it is time to deliver them to the teachers and to the registrar’s office.  Neatness matters!

Fourth, deliver each form with the attached envelope t to the appropriate teacher on the first day recommendations can be accepted.  You do not want your recommendations to arrive too early.  Make certain that your son or daughter writes a thank you note to every teacher who completes a form.

The high school admissions process can feel daunting the first time you go through it, but keep in mind that an early start and an organized plan will make the process far less stressful.  Do not be afraid to call admissions offices to ask questions.  Adhere to due dates and deadlines and above all, keep an optimistic attitude.

Phoenix Area Independent Schools: Admissions Information - Important Dates/Deadlines

Notre Dame Preparatory
December 19, 2014, is the deadline to complete the application and the student essay and submit the birth certificate and the fee. Their admissions office will accept teacher recommendations from teachers once exams have been graded.

January 30, 2015, is the deadline for first semester grades and student interviews. Interviews are conducted January 13−15 and 20−22, 2015. Contact NDP’s admissions office to schedule your son or daughter’s interview.

Brophy College Preparatory
January 7, 2015, is the deadline for the application, the birth certificate, and the $75 fee to complete eligibility to take the test on January 10, 2015. This is the first test date and it is your responsibility to sign up! January 21, 2015, is the deadline to complete all required materials for the second test which will be administered on January 24, 2015. January 30, 2015, is the deadline for essays. An essay may be hand-delivered on the day of the interview.

Sign up for your son’s interview online beginning December 15, 2014. The interviews are scheduled in January. January 30, 2015, is the final deadline for recommendation forms, transcripts, and standardized test scores. Call Shelly Scheuring at Brophy if you have any questions.

Phoenix Country Day
Applications must be completed and submitted before a shadow day can be scheduled. The first testing day is December 6, 2014.

All applications, transcripts, recommendation forms, and ERB test scores must be completed and submitted by the beginning of February.

Xavier College Prep
January 10, 2015, is the testing date. At this time, applications and recommendation forms will be distributed.

REMINDER: DO NOT request a specific student for your daughter to shadow. All Xavier Student Ambassadors share the responsibility of hosting potential applicants.