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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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’ Kapa–lama 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.