How To Survive School Admissions in Hong Kong

2:52 pm Hong Kong Education, Latest News

By Anne Murphy
Director, ITS Educational Services Ltd

The school admission process in Hong Kong is one that involves lots of worry and uncertainty. Parents are particularly stressed after Chinese New Year till early spring as offers and rejection letters come through the door. Parents in Hong Kong start their search for the right school as soon as their little one has a birth certificate. Many months are spent filling out applications as they try to determine which schools best fit their educational values and their child’s learning style and personality. And once the interviews are over, there is nothing any parent can do, but wait….and wait….and wait.

As school offers are usually made between February and April – many parents face the dilemma of having to pay deposits for school offers in February because their first choice school has not come through yet. As a result, the entire process can end up being very expensive between application fees, assessment fees and hefty deposits.
Despite all the stress and worry about making the “right” decision for your child¬, most children will be accepted to the school where they will be happy and successful. However, as an education consultant who has gone through the process with hundreds of parents for the past eight years; I know what I have to explain, may not make the school search process any easier. However, I do hope what I have outlined below will answer some of the questions that many of you may have during this time of year.

My child passed her interview at two schools, but has been put on the waitlist? What should I do?
Although most schools offer places to children with priority first, your child actually has a great chance of acceptance for spaces that become available before the new academic year starts or even mid-year. You will also have the opportunity to re-apply for the following academic year; this is good because your child will be offered an interview due to being waitlisted for the previous year. While the disappointment of your child being placed on a waitlist and not going all the way is hard to take, it is helpful to think of this as an opportunity to learn more about what school is the perfect fit for your child and this is also a time to get your child more prepared for the interview the following year. An interim placement at another school is also a sound solution, attending a ‘big school’ with an age-appropriate and academic curriculum will improve his or her chances of acceptance at schools where he or she may not have gotten in this year.

My child was accepted to a bilingual school (Mandarin & English) but not at the one I truly want? Should I accept the offer?
You know your child better than anyone else does. Think about how your child learns best. Is it in a structured environment or a more progressive one? Would your child be happy at this school? Even if the Mandarin program is not as good as your first choice bilingual school, would you be able to increase the intensiveness of the learning process at home or after-school? All these things are important as you make your choice. Aside from all of this, make sure the school is a comfortable place for you as well as for your child. Visit the school again before you pay the deposit or decide that it is definitely not an option. If possible, reach out to other parents who have children attending the school. This school may very well bridge the gap for your child to eventually gaining a place at your first choice school.

How should I deal with the disappointing news of my child not being offered any places?
Firstly, make sure your child does not perceive any of your negative feelings as this may reduce his or her confidence the next time an interview comes around. Keep the disappointment and frustration between parents and discuss very little about the situation with your child. The way you deal with this will set a long lasting example for your child and will cause them any anxiety or stress for future school interviews. Make a new plan and consider other schools; ones which not have been a consideration before. The school that is the right fit for your child is the school that will ultimately choose your child.

I missed out on some important deadlines this year; how should I prepare so this won’t happen again?
Finding out that you have missed out on application deadlines can be quite frightening. You feel bad because you were unable to provide your child with a chance of being offered a school place. Make sure to put a structured plan in place for the next academic year. Contact all your preferred schools and make sure have a calendar alert in your diary for when the application opens. Do it on the first day, so you don’t have the urge to procrastinate. Have copies of all the documentation you need for the application in order and in separate folders for each school. When you do file the application, follow-up with the admissions department to ensure the application is in order before the deadline.




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