by Tanya Anton | GoMamaGuide.com
Many clients have contacted me recently after finding out either their child was waitlisted at several places and they haven’t heard anything yet, or they got into two or more schools and can’t decide which way to go.
Being waitlisted is a sensitive topic. Nobody likes to hear they didn’t get into their first choice school. Some high-performing magnet and charter programs are so competitive to get into, hundreds or even thousands of children are waitlisted every year. So, what’s a parent to do?
First, it helps to understand the application/ lottery/ enrollment process so you know what you are dealing with. Savvy parents know that most folks apply to multiple schools but obviously can’t attend all those schools. Therefore, by their very nature, waitlists become bloated and not necessarily reflective of who would actually attend if given the slot. In other words, if I applied to schools A-E, got accepted and enrolled in school A, my spots on the B-C-D-E school waitlists would be technically vacant since I’ve already enrolled elsewhere. As people finalize their school decisions, other folks are silently moving up waitlists all over town, so you never truly know where you stand on a list.
Second, it helps to know the timeline so you can gauge where you are in it and what your possibilities are.The first round of Magnet notification letters go out in early April. Charters all do their lotteries independently, but typically their letters are sent out in the March-April window. (Earlier for middle and high school.) Permits and Open Enrollment results typically come out in June. After the first round of offers go out, schools will work their way down the waitlist through May and June in order to fill empty spots, but even then enrollment lists are not necessarily final yet, as families shift in their enrollment decisions. School offices close for the month of July, so this is a good time to vacate, have a cocktail, de-stress, as there’s absolutely nothing you can do this month until offices reopen sometime in August, when they’ll continue to work down the list to ensure all seats are filled. Hopefully you will know your school choice by then, but even as late as late-August or early-September, last-minute seats can be offered. Remember, Magnet schools have up until the 10th day of school to notify you if a spot opens up, and neighborhood schools have until Norm Day, usually the first week in October when they finalize their teacher-student ratios to the District, so really, waitlisted isn’t final until then.
Third, stay positive and be proactive. Don’t bug the staff as they are most likely overworked and underpaid, but you can call, say, in late June or mid-August, to see if getting your child in is a close possibility or not very likely. You can also let them know who you are and how very thrilled you would be to accept a spot at their school, should one open up.
And finally, always have a back-up plan. Perhaps that’s your home school which you’re automatically zoned for, or one with a large number of Open Enrollment seats where almost everyone who applies gets in. Perhaps it’s a new magnet program that was announced late and didn’t fill up, or you apply for a PERT – a Parent-Employment-Related Transfer to a school near your business address. Either way, looking back at it, kids always find a seat somewhere.
Confused about your public school options? Can’t decide or want me to go over your choices with you? I can help. Book a 30 or 55min phone consultation with me today.