6 Admission Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

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

1. Myth: Students need to have a certain SSAT score to be admitted.

Reality: Schools are looking for more than children who test well. The same applies to athletes and the children of alumni. “Schools welcome applicants, even if there is no connection,” says Christina Yasutomi, communications and public relations officer at Hawai‘i Baptist Academy. “Most schools seek diversity in their applicants.”


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

Reality: Almost half of the admissions employees we talked with said this was a big misconception for applicants’ parents. A child doesn’t need to know how to read or be involved in a lot of extracurricular activities, says Yasutomi, of Hawai‘i Baptist Academy. Another myth, she adds, is that schools are looking for the perfect candidate. “Most admissions committees are looking for students who will thrive at their school and will enhance their student body by bringing their own unique strengths, while having the opportunity to benefit and grow from the strengths other students have to share.”


3. 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 graduates more than 700 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. Don’t worry that entering school at an older age will mean that your child will be left behind. Linda Kawakami of Trinity Christian School says most students can catch up with summer school or tutoring. “Parents often believe that their child will not adapt well or fast enough,” says Joyce McCarthy, enrollment coordinator at Honolulu Waldorf School. “In fact, it is often the child who adjusts to the new school the quickest.”


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

Reality: Diversity of the student body—socio-economic, 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their eyes out for students from a wide range of backgrounds, particularly those who don’t fit the stereotypical (and outdated) private-school profile.


5. 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.


6. Myth: Bigger campuses with more bells and whistles are better.

Reality: Every child has different needs. “Some [needs] are better served in smaller environments or specific curricula or specific pedagogical methods,” says Kay Hishinuma, principal at Windward Nazarene Academy. Instead of name recognition, admissions directors say, parents should know what will help their children thrive then find the school that fits their needs.