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What is the Top-Choice Letter in Private School Admissions?

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Many families have approached us after attending school tours, speaking with administrators, and submitting applications, asking, “What else can we do to confirm our interest?” The answer, of course, is drafting the infamous “top-choice” letter.

What is the Top-Choice Letter?

If you are exploring selective private schools, odds are you’ve heard of the top-choice letter. This letter is the cherry that sits atop the sundae of your child’s application. Much like maraschino cherries on banana splits, these letters are an optional addition to your admissions file, and they are not for everyone.

Before you put pen to paper, it’s in your best interest to confirm that the school of your dreams accepts these letters. Not only do some schools make a point of not considering top-choice letters, some administrators will actually be disenchanted by the submission, which could hurt your chances of admission. If you’ve scanned the school’s website and/or spoken to a qualified representative about top-choice letters and received a thumbs up, by all means — let’s dive in!

How do you write a distinct Top-Choice Letter?

The top-choice letter is akin to the college admissions Why essay, which is an opportunity for applicants to nerd out about the school to which they’re applying. In order to write a successful first-choice letter, be as detailed as possible. If you took notes during an interview or tour, reference them. If you felt a special connection with an administrator or teacher, mention that. If the school offers special classes or facilities that excite your child, bring it up. Show admissions that you’ve done your homework and can pinpoint why this school is ideal for your child. This is not the time to play it cool. Instead, illuminate for admissions why your child is a great fit for the school (not just vice versa).

It probably goes without saying, but to be safe, we’re going to say it anyway: only write one top-choice letter. Yes, even if there are two schools that you have fallen head over heels for. It’s called a top-choice for a reason, and if your family receives admission offers to more than one school after sending more than one top-choice letter, you will find yourselves in quite the pickle. (Not a great sundae topping.) That being said, there is nothing wrong with sending follow up thank-you notes to each school you visit and tour. In fact, we recommend doing so to express your appreciation and interest!

In Closing

All in all, the top-choice letter is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your interest, confirm your desire to accept (should admission be offered), and distinguish your child’s application from those of similarly qualified applicants.

As always, if you want a helping hand or an expert review, we’re here to help support your family throughout the process.

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