Frequently Asked Questions
- Is preschool mandatory for admission to Kindergarten? Are there special feeder schools for Sacred Heart?
It is not necessary for children to attend preschool before coming to Sacred Heart, although, practically speaking, most of our applicants attend a nursery or daycare program. Further, we do not give admission preference to children from a particular school or group of schools. This year’s Kindergarten class is made up of children from many different preschools and daycare programs. Students who transfer into the older grades are drawn from public, parochial and independent schools throughout the city and suburbs. Children come to Sacred Heart from a variety of circumstances, and the Admissions Committee considers each child as an individual.
- Can I schedule my child’s assessment at the same time as my parent interview?
We are happy to schedule assessments and interviews together, however this generally shortens the interview. This works best for children who do not usually experience much separation anxiety.
- Do you accept children who miss the September 1 birthday cut off for Kindergarten?
We require children to be five years old when they enter Kindergarten. Exceptions are rarely made.
- Are children with late summer birthdays automatically counseled to delay entrance to Kindergarten until the following year?
We do not feel that all children with summer birthdays should wait an extra year to enter Kindergarten. However, some children will benefit from the social and developmental growth that additional time in preschool allows, and every year, at the conclusion of the admissions process, we ask a number of families to consider this option. In deciding whether to move forward with Kindergarten or hold back, we advise families to consult carefully with their preschool teachers, who know their students well and can provide helpful insight into the issue.
- Do you accept new students into 8th grade?
Rarely, because students graduate from Sacred Heart at the close of 8th grade, we are especially cautious in admitting new students at this level. The Admissions Committee must be convinced that a new 8th grader will make an exceptionally smooth transition to the Schools. New students who are accepted are most often from families moving into the Chicago area and not transfers from local schools. Students transferring from other Sacred Heart Network schools make especially strong candidates.
- Will it help my child’s chances for admission if I provide references or support the Schools’ fundraising efforts?
References, beyond the required LMAIS teacher recommendations, neither help nor hinder the admissions process. We are happy to accept them, but find they usually play little role in admissions compared to other factors more directly related to the applicants themselves. If you choose to submit reference letters, please limit them to one or two. We want to be very clear that it is not necessary or even desirable for prospective families to support the Schools’ fundraising efforts in order to gain admission to Sacred Heart. Instead, we encourage applicant families to support their current schools to the extent their personal circumstances allow. Having said this, we realize that some prospective parents may want to attend a school event as a way of getting a better sense of our community in order to determine if Sacred Heart eventually will be a good fit for their family. We are happy to have parents evaluate us in this way; however, event attendance plays no role in the admissions process and is never noted in applicant files.
- What do you look for in a Developmental Assessment?
We look for a range of physical and cognitive development appropriate to each child’s age. While the assessment does include “academic” material such as alphabet, number and color recognition, it also includes movement, drawing, playing with puzzles, and building with blocks. We also love to just talk with children about their families, their schools, and their favorite things!
It is important to note that we do not rank children at this age level on their knowledge base, nor do we attempt to determine their IQ’s. Preschoolers quite naturally present a wide range of skills. Any two children of the same age can present a very different combination of knowledge and abilities, and both can be completely appropriate developmentally.
What we hope to discover in our meeting with a young applicant is a sense that he or she will come into our Kindergarten program ready to engage and learn.
- Can I be present in the room when my child is assessed?
Absolutely. We want families to be secure in our admissions process – the more secure you are, the more secure your child will be. We acknowledge that you know your child far better than we do and encourage you to choose the environment you think is most comfortable for your child. You will note that we make arrangements for a limited separation (where the parent may be seated outside the room with the door open). We feel this often helps allay any anxiety a child might have in an unfamiliar environment while allowing him or her the independence needed to engage fully.
- Should I prepare my child for the assessment beforehand?
It is not recommended that children be “coached” before an assessment. Again, we are primarily interested in development, not knowledge base. It is useful, however, to prepare your child for the meeting in a way that will help make him or her relaxed. You may say that he/she will meet with a “teacher” for some fun activities or games. You may suggest that it is your child’s chance to “check out” a “big kids’ school” to see if they like it. It is not recommended that children be “surprised” by the meeting. Experience has taught us that most children do not handle this kind of surprise well.
- Will I get feedback after the assessment?
The short answer is: No. The reasons for this, however, are various:
First, we do not promote talking about children’s “accomplishments” or “performance” in their presence. We do our very best to make the assessment as stress-free as possible and want children to leave Sacred Heart feeling relaxed and happy with themselves.
Second, assessments are only one part of a multi-step admissions process. We understand that we cannot get a complete picture of a child from a single, brief meeting. This is why the admissions process does not end with the assessment, but goes on to include a preschool observation and a teacher recommendation. These three “snap shots” allow us to reflect on each child from a variety of perspectives. We would never consider making an admission decision based on an assessment alone; if we never consider the results of an assessment in isolation, we feel it would be misleading to encourage you to do so. If you feel the need for specific feedback, we ask that you contact the Director of Admissions after all steps in the application process are complete.
- Who actually makes the admission decision?
The Admissions Office is responsible for gathering information about each applicant and family and presenting a completed applicant file to the Admissions Committee. The Admissions Committee -- comprised of the Director of Admissions, the Head of Schools, Director of Institutional Advancement, and the relevant Division Head -- reviews each applicant file and makes a recommendation to the Head of Schools regarding admission. The final authority to admit or deny an applicant rests solely with the Head of Schools. In arriving at an admissions recommendation, the Admissions Committee will often consult with the wider admissions staff as well as faculty who interacted with applicants and their families during the application process.
- Are siblings or legacies given preference for admission?
Sacred Heart is firmly committed to our school families and so siblings are given strong preference for admission. It is rare that a sibling is not admitted to our Kindergarten program, especially when parents have carefully observed all deadlines in the admissions process and been responsible members of the school community. Children and grandchildren of alumnae/i also receive careful consideration for admission, although acceptance is not automatic. Finally, the Admissions Committee looks favorably on students from other Sacred Heart Network schools whose families are transferring into the Chicago area.
- My child’s grades are low. How are grades factored into the admissions decision for older students?
The Admissions Committee believes in looking at applicants holistically and always evaluates multiple factors for admission. However, report cards play an important role, especially for children looking to enter the upper grade levels. Students with A’s and B’s in core subject areas are more likely to make successful candidates than students with C’s and D’s, unless mitigating factors are present. An interested family with concerns about their child’s report card should always feel free to call the Director of Admissions for a confidential conversation prior to application.