Admissions — The Waiting Period

If you’re like most families applying to independent schools, you spent much of the fall reviewing websites, attending virtual information sessions, writing essays and trying to determine which educational philosophy and institution best fits your child and your family. You made choices based on what you learned and pressed “submit” on one or more applications by early January and breathed a sigh of relief that this part of the process was done.

My children are grown now, but as a former independent school parent myself, I know that the waiting period that comes next can be hard. I still remember the anxiety I felt between the time we submitted our applications and the day we heard about the decisions for each of our children.

When you don’t know exactly what’s happening, it’s easy to fill in the blanks with worries and concerns. To make sure this isn’t the case for you, the information that follows demystifies the work that we — and most likely any other independent school you applied to — will do between now and March 5th, the day admissions decisions are released.

Completing files

The first thing we do after the application deadline is to review each applicant’s file to see if anything is missing so when the Admissions Committee begins their work, the files are ready to be read. For Sheridan, you can assume we have all of the parts of your application if the items are checked off in your Ravenna portal. All schools are updating Ravenna as quickly as possible so you should not be overly concerned if there seems to be a lag between the time an item is submitted and when the school marks it received.

Admissions Committee review

At Sheridan, we have Admissions Committees for each grade that are comprised of our Admissions team, our Director of Student Support, other school administrators, and faculty members. Every committee member reads every file prior to meeting to discuss each applicant individually. The work is challenging as each applicant is compelling and we meet multiple times before making a final decision based on the consensus of the group.

Financial aid

Financial aid is considered separately after admissions decisions have been made. To determine financial aid awards, the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, the Director of Finance and the Head of School review the financial aid applications of those students who have been admitted. The amount of any financial aid award offered is based on two factors: 1) demonstrated need as determined by guidelines provided by TADS, a third party financial aid assessment firm; and, 2) the availability of funds allocated for financial aid by the Sheridan Board of Trustees.

Admission notifications

Admissions and financial aid decisions are released on Friday, March 5th in accordance with requirements set by the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW), the member group to which independent schools in our region belong.  All schools under the umbrella of AISGW must wait until March 5th to notify applicants of their decisions. Decisions typically are sent by email and may be followed by a more formal letter sent by postal mail.

Breakfasts and visits

In the weeks following notifications, many schools, including Sheridan, host events for newly admitted families to help you dive a little deeper into the school before making your enrollment decision. These events are opportunities for you or your child to ask questions that may not have come up in the initial phase of the admittance process. We encourage you to attend these events whenever possible because they help you reacquaint yourself with the school while meeting other families who could be part of your community.

Again, we know how much you have invested in the admissions process in hopes of finding the school that’s just right for your child and your family. If you have any questions during this “waiting period,” please don’t hesitate to contact me at or 202-507-7720.