2016 Hawai‘i Private School Guide


(page 16 of 18)

Common Myths About Private School Admission 

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


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

“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 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.


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

“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.


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

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


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

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 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, of Kamehameha Schools.


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

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.


Admissions directors make all the decisions.

Especially at a big school, admissions decisions are usually made by a committee, not a 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.


Submitting the application right before the deadline means my child's assessment or group session will be scheduled later, giving her or him a developmental advantage over younger kids who were tested earlier.

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, it could potentially mean 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


Culture Counts 

Each of Hawai‘i’s independent schools has its own unique culture. You can see it in diverse courses and activities, philosophies, environments and the ways in which students learn. So how, exactly, do schools define their culture and work it into the curriculum?​


Applying to Private School: A 12-Month Timeline 


What To Do If You’ve Missed a Deadline 


What Does Accreditation Mean For Your Child? 


14 Things to Look For in a Private School 


How to Ace the Interview 


Financial Aid FAQs

Exploring Your Potential New Campus 

Common Myths About Private School Admission 


Index of Advertisers 


2016 Listings of Private Schools 


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