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How to Apply to an Independent School

Associate Director of Upper School Admission Margaret Marks and Associate Director of Middle School Admission Melaine Taylor share information about this year's admission season.

Five things to know about the 2021–2022 private school admission season

Between the two of us, we have helped families through the independent school admissions process for more than 20 years. Choosing the right school for your student is a big decision, and we love assisting families with this decision and the process of applying to private schools. Whether your family is new to independent schools or this is a re-application year for your student, here are five things to know about applying to independent schools in the greater Seattle area during this school year.

 1.     You Can Tour the School—In Person or Virtually!

Due to the ongoing global pandemic, informational sessions and tours are not tied to physical spaces and time in the usual way. Most Seattle-area independent schools are offering both in-person and virtual tours and informational sessions that take place on online platforms like Zoom. For example, families interested in checking out the UPrep campus can watch the University Prep 360° Virtual Campus Tour here. Families can find also find info sessions that fit what works for their family in the events section of our admission page, or sign up for in-person tours through Ravenna.

2.     Explore Each School More Than Once

Families often say a school tour gives them a gut feeling, yet we have found it is best to explore each school beyond the singular tour experience. Through online events this year, prospective families can fully investigate each private school. At UPrep, we have expanded the scope and number of these presentations and conversations with faculty, staff, students, and current parents of UPrep students. Attendees can learn about our academic departments, the College Counseling Office, Global and Outdoor Education Programs, our Athletics Program, our Social Emotional Learning Program, our Diversity and Equity Office, and more. Families can watch videos about UPrep’s Upper School here, and videos about UPrep’s Middle School here.

3.     Get to Know the Ravenna Admission System 

The first step for applying to most local independent schools is to create an account in Ravenna, a web-based admission system used by most private schools in the greater Seattle area. We recommend taking time to navigate around the site. Look for schools that have grade-level openings that match your needs and explore the application process for each school.

The application process is slightly different for each independent school. Check for required parts of the application process and get those scheduled as early as you can. Requirements at UPrep include a virtual or in-person student visit, which includes the student interview, as well as a group activity and a short writing sample. We are also asking students to submit a recent school assignment as part of the application this year. For a list of the other requirements, you can visit the admission page on the UPrep website.

Many schools open the application process and begin accepting applications in early September, although the final due date for completed applications is January 13 for UPrep and most other independent schools. Upper School decisions will be released at noon on Friday, February 25, and Middle School decisions will be released at noon on Friday, March 18. Families have one week to make their school decision, which includes signing a contract and submitting a tuition deposit. 

4.     Testing and Admissions Requirements Are Different This Year

For applications to the 2022–2023 school year, some independent schools are becoming more flexible by not requiring that applicants take the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) or the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT), which are the most commonly used admissions tests for local private and independent schools.

UPrep’s test-flexible policy for this season means that we will accept any standardized test results that a student has and chooses to share. The results could be from a test taken at school (such as the ERB, CTP, Smarter Balanced, or MAP test) or results from a current ISEE or SSAT admission test. We do require that any prior testing be from the last two academic years (2019–2020 and 2020–2021 school years) or the current academic school year (2021–2022).

At UPrep, test results are only one part of understanding a prospective student’s application. Each application also includes report cards, essays written by students, and information from student and parent interviews with UPrep faculty and staff. This year, students will also include a completed homework assignment with their application. What we are really trying to understand through the application process is who the student is in an academic setting and how their interests align with the UPrep community. Head of School Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau notes that “University Prep is a place for talented students who take risks, push themselves to reach their full potential, and embrace diversity.”

5. The Admissions Office Wants to Connect

At UPrep, the best way to reach us is through email: contact us at admissionoffice@universityprep.org with any and all questions. It is our job to help you through this process, which we know can feel overwhelming for families. We can also walk you through applying for UPrep’s Financial Aid Program, which is designed to include support for families from many different income levels and circumstances. We also want families to know we aren’t looking for the “perfect student.” We are looking for students who are engaged and excited to learn and want to be a part of our community.

Come to any of our admission events to learn more about the offerings of the UPrep community. Our Virtual Open House is November 9 from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. You’ll hear from our Head of School Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau and participate in Q&A panels with UPrep faculty and students. We look forward to meeting you online during the 2021–2022 admission season!  

and Associate Director of Upper School Admission Margaret Marks 

By Associate Director of Middle School Admission Melaine Taylor



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