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2017 Hawai‘i Private School Guide

(Sponsored) Find out what sets Hawai‘i private schools apart. Our Private School Guide has become the trusted resource for parents trying to find the best fit for their child’s education. Learn about the unique culture, classes and philosophies of some of Hawai‘i’s schools.


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Common Myths

There are some persistent myths surrounding the admissions process. We checked out a few of them with the schools themselves.


Myth: My friend’s child has been “wait-listed,” but is first in line. 

Reality: “We call it a wait-pool. We do not rank,” says Ella Browning, director of admissions at Mid-Pacific Institute. In almost all cases, this is a “wait-pool” of qualified and diverse students applying to what is essentially a competitive and space-limited school. “When a space opens, we look at building a learning community at every level. We ask, ‘Who in this pool would complement or add to this community that we’re creating?’” Rather than using a ranked list, schools focus on individuals’ qualities and characteristics. “We do literally look at everybody again,” says Browning.


Myth: If I send my child to a “feeder school,” there will automatically be a better chance of admission.

Reality: “Every school is a feeder school,” says Browning, “We always end up taking kids from a lot of schools. It’s about a balance of kids from different philosophies and experiences.” While some preschools may be more aligned with certain K-12 institutions, schools holistically review applicants on their own merits and admit them from a wide variety of preschools. “We like to take a range of diversity in programs and school cultures,” says Browning.


Myth: At certain schools, reading is a must before kindergarten admission.

Reality: Nope. Nowhere is reading a prerequisite for kindergarten entry. Pua Fernandez, director of admissions at Kamehameha Schools’ Kapalama campus says, “No. We do not expect children to be reading at age 4. However, we do look for exposure to the alphabet.” 


Myth: If my child doesn’t get in at kindergarten, he or she will never get in.

Reality: Independent K-12 schools tend to admit the majority of their graduating classes long after kindergarten. For example, Kamehameha Schools may be Hawai‘i’s largest independent school, graduating 714 seniors annually, but it starts with a class of around only 160 kindergarten students, meaning the vast majority of students are admitted in other grade levels. There are “multiple entry points and, each time a student applies, it is a ‘fresh start,’” meaning that previous test scores and interviews are not considered, says Fernandez.


Myth: If you’re not well-connected, wealthy or an alumnus, you can forget about applying.

Reality: Diversity of the student body—socioeconomic, geographical, cultural and otherwise—is a big priority at many private schools. Admissions officers keep their eyes out for students from a wide range of backgrounds, particularly those who don’t fit the stereotypical (and outdated) private-school profile.


Myth: Admissions directors make all the decisions.

Reality: Especially at a big school, admissions decisions are usually made by a committee, not any single person. Admissions directors are, however, the people whose job it is to get to know, and answer questions for, families of prospective students. They’re the folks who want to talk to you; take advantage of that.


Myth: Submitting my child’s application right before the deadline means their assessment or group session will be scheduled later, giving them a developmental advantage over younger kids who were tested earlier.

Reality: Most schools schedule assessments according to the age of the applicant, not when their application is received. Or, “for individual testing, those are adjusted for the exact age of the child on that very day of testing,” says Kelly Monaco, director of admissions at ‘Iolani School. Applying later may not only be futile, but could potentially mean that there are fewer open spaces or that your child is now expected to be even more developed.


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A Message From First Hawaiian Bank 


A Message from HAIS’ Executive Director


Re-imagining Schools

Many independent schools in Hawai‘i and across the nation are rejecting traditional teaching styles to focus on new skills and project-based learning. Some parents worry this shift away from standard methods and tests puts students’ chances of getting into good colleges at risk. But educators say today’s constantly changing, technology-driven society requires different skills to survive college and beyond. Here’s how.


Applying to Private School: A Timeline

Thinking about private school for your child? Finding the right school for your child and getting her or him enrolled can take at least a year. Here is a 12-month timeline to make sure you don’t miss a crucial deadline along the way.


Catching Up 

You’ve missed a deadline in the application process; does that mean your child has no chance of getting admitted? Not necessarily. Here’s why there’s still a chance. 


What Does Accreditation Mean for Your Child?

You’ll notice schools claiming accreditation from an alphabet soup of organizations—AACS, ACSI, WASC, WCEA. We explain who these groups are and what their approval means.


What Are You Looking For? 

You and your child will want a clear idea of exactly what you’re looking for in a private school before you begin the search. Here are some general areas you might consider.


How to Ace the Interview 

The last, and often most dreaded, step of the application process is one that only your child can do: the personal interview.


Financial Aid FAQs

Commonly asked questions about financial aid.


Exploring Your Potential New Campus

Get a real sense of your child’s private-school options by digging deep into a campus visit.


Common Myths 

We debunk some of the most common rumors about private school admission with help from the folks in charge of who gets in. 


A Complete Directory to HAIS Independent Schools 

Information on 107 schools and two colleges.


2017 Listings of Private Schools 


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