Deadlines Passed For Independent School Enrollment? What do I do now?

You are thinking of looking at independent schools for your children. You search online, and after an hour, you’ve learned that there are tons of amazing choices and that you have missed all the deadlines. Seriously – this isn’t college, it’s elementary school! Who ever heard of starting a year ahead to apply to elementary school? So, what do you do now?

Is it too late to apply? 

I get this question every spring. At St. Paul’s, as long as we have room in a grade, we continue to accept applications long after the deadlines have passed. (Like most area schools, our applications were due on December 31.) As long as we have space in a class, we are happy to talk with you about your child, about what you’re looking for, and about why you want to change schools.

Next, we’ll want you to come in and take a look around. Plan to spend a few minutes in homerooms, science and STEM classes, and attend an assembly. Is this what you picture for your child? If so, it is time to have your child visit so that he or she can weigh in on the decision. Their eyes and ears are attuned to things we don’t notice, and they can often tell us more about a place than we’ve seen ourselves. You may find just the right thing, and be on just the right path.

Can I afford it?

Now, I know you’re asking yourself, “What about that trust fund we’ll need to afford independent school?” Financial aid is awarded, based on need, to families who qualify. This money is a grant, not a loan, and it is meant to literally “aid” the student and the family. It is never paid back, and it is our way of contributing to the community and assuring economic diversity in our school, thereby enriching every child’s experience.   The catch is that you have to apply, and it takes time, patience and cooperation on the part of both parents. When the going gets tough, just remember that most schools are managing a budget of more than 3 million dollars in financial aid and all that money will be granted to supplement tuition.

Where do I start?

Pick up the phone, call the Admissions Offices of your preferred schools, and find out what you need to do to get the process started. Years from now, my hope is that you will be proud of your child and satisfied that all the sacrifices made for their education will continue to pay off.

Martha Donovan

Martha Donovan

Mrs. Donovan is the Associate Director of Lower School Admissions at St. Paul’s. She previously spent ten years in Middle and Upper School Admissions at the Key School in Annapolis, where her three children graduated. Since coming to St. Paul’s, she and her husband have moved to Baltimore and love it. Mrs. Donovan also has experience as a national news editor with NBC Radio and Mutual News, and spent a year as a Press Secretary on Capitol Hill. You will often find her in the Kindergarten classrooms or on the early carpool line, anywhere she can see the kids in action. She can be reached at

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