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Applications: Where, When and How?

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

Where do we apply?

Contrary to popular folklore, you do not need to apply ‘everywhere’, nor do you need to apply to ten schools. For international schools, we recommend a maximum of three applications.

Choosing which three is an inexact science.

It’s all about ‘Finding the Fit’. To do that, we focus on 6Ps: 

1. Priorities and Preferences

Identify your priorities and preferences as parents and match these with the realistic and available school options for your family. If your child is older, their own priorities and preferences are also important. Do lots of research – talk to schools, parents and teachers – and, at the end of the day, trust your intuition.

2. Personality & Proficiency

Consider your/your child’s personality and specific proficiencies. For example, consider if your child will do better with a bit more or less structure in a larger or smaller class or school. Are facilities important? Is your child proficient in one or more languages? Is he/she playing a sport at a high level? Once you have done the matching, you should shortlist 3-4 schools to apply to.

3, Policies and Procedures

Understanding each of your shortlisted school’s specific policies and procedures is imperative. Application procedures vary wildly and it’s important to follow each step, providing exactly what is asked for but no more than what is asked for.

When do we apply?

For entry into primary school, the latest time to apply is the first term of K2.

Applications are generally due in September and October, with some in November and even later. Interviews begin as early as November, but mostly from January. Most of the results will be released February and March. This process is ongoing until all seats in the school are filled.

While most parents are aware of the danger of late applications, not too many consider the danger of early applications. Applying early in the cycle will hopefully result in an offer. If so, you’ll need to pay at least $40,000 to secure this space. If this is not your first choice school, you’ll find yourselves in a tight spot. So, try to estimate when is the right time to apply within the application period and don’t apply too early.

How do we apply?

The job of the application is to generate an interview. Think of it as your child’s CV.

Three guidelines for a strong application that will result in an invitation for interview:

Be on time – We’ve said it before; don’t be late. This will almost always see your application sent to the bottom of the pile.

Be respectful – Supply the information that is asked for it – all of it. However, do not submit extra information that isn’t asked for. Portfolios are not needed for international schools and submitting one may harm your application.

The amount of space given for your answer to a question is the amount of space you have; do not attach additional sheets.

Do not omit anything.

Be honest – any SEN? English as a second language? If your child is invited for an interview, the teachers are highly skilled to spot anything not declared within minutes and this will harm your chances. Whereas, if you are honest about your child’s needs and your child is invited for interview, the teachers will allow for this during the interview.

This article was first published in the Good Schools Guide : International Schools 2018/19 published by The South China Morning Post.


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