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Getting into private school: the role of parents

Expert advice and insights into the role of parents in private school admissions

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We provide all the information you need on the application and admissions process on Here we focus on the role of parents in helping their children gain admission. We asked school officials and education consultants to weigh in on this question. What follows are valuable insights.

For expert advice on a wide range of questions related to “getting in,” read our comprehensive guide. For valuable insights on the more general question of choosing the right school, read our in-depth education expert and parent interviews and our choosing guide.

On the role of parents

“Parents should be involved throughout the whole application process—for their own family’s sake, but also to demonstrate their sincerity to and engagement with the school—but they should so within reason. Parents should attend the relevant open houses or information sessions. If tours are available, parents should participate. Most importantly, parents shouldn’t feel shy about calling or emailing the admissions staff if they have any thoughtful questions about the school or its admissions processes.”
Bryan Ide, Educational Director, KEY Education

“Parents need to keep their own stress levels in check! Make sure the dates of open houses and application deadlines are marked in your calendar by the end of August. Give yourself time to fill out the application and let your child have plenty of time as well. It is important for students to understand the process, what is expected of them, in terms of their current report card, open houses, and interviews. I typically find that the admissions process is a healthy one for students and that most schools are supportive.”
Elaine Danson, Education Consultant, Danson and Associates

“While the student is certainly encouraged to take an active role in the application process, depending on the age and grade of the student, the parent will maintain the primary responsibility for some stages in the application process. As a result, they will naturally be involved in every step.

Parent support will be most important for logistics: gathering the supporting documents, arranging campus visits, meeting deadlines and due dates, etc. However, parents are encouraged to maintain contact with admissions staff, both to ensure that the process is moving along well and to ensure that they get their questions addressed along the way.”
Kathy LaBranche, Director of Admissions, Trinity College School, Port Hope, Ontario

“Parents are indispensable partners between home and school—before, during, and after the admissions process. Parents can help by setting the tone for a positive experience regardless of the outcome. Admissions officers don’t expect a child to know everything. We look for a willingness to listen, learn, and grow. Parents can make our job easier by adhering to timelines and understanding that we all want what is best for the child.”
—Chantel Kenney, Executive Director of Admissions, Upper Canada College, Toronto, Ontario

“Parents must be full partners both in the application and admissions process. Beyond that, they must remain partners throughout the entire career of their child. In the end, though their child is the one unpacking the bags and living away from home, it ultimately has to be the right decision for the entire family.”
Clayton Johnston, Director of Admissions, Brentwood College School, Mill Bay, British Columbia

“When applying to Appleby College, or any school for that matter, parents need to play a supportive role and encourage their son/daughter to ask as many questions as they have throughout the application process. However, once the application is submitted, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the questions need to stop. At Appleby, we always welcome calls from parents inquiring about the status of their son/daughter’s application while it undergoes review. We know that the wait can be an anxious time!”
Luke Seamone, Executive Director of Admissions, Appleby College, Oakville, Ontario

“The best thing parents can be is supportive and authentic. We want to know who their daughter is, and what she and they are looking for in a school. We want families to find the right fit for them and we are here to answer their questions in order to help them find just that.”
Maggie Houston-White, Executive Director of Enrolment Management, Havergal College, Toronto, Ontario

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