Ten-year-old Emma Liu can’t wait to start school this fall. However, when September finally rolls around, Emma won’t be wearing her usual jeans and sneakers to school. Instead, she will don the vivid green uniform of her local private school, an institution known for its rigorous academics and impressive facilities. Emma’s mom, Helena, is equally excited and feels confident that her daughter will benefit from a private school education. “Touring the school, meeting the other students and seeing everything that it had to offer,” says Helena, “ I just knew that this was the right choice for Emma.”    

And Helena is not alone. According to numbers released in a 2017 report by the Fraser Institute, more and more parents are choosing private school education as an option for their children. While British Columbia and Quebec lead the pack amongst Canadian provinces in the overall percentage of students attending private school (12.9% and 12.3%, respectively), Ontario is not too far behind, with 6.1% of its total student population in 2015 enrolled in private schools. That translates to 129, 607 students and an increase of 17.9% from 2001. Nationally, almost 400 000 students are currently enrolled in thousands of private schools across Canada, many of which boast specialized programs and a wealth of extracurricular opportunities.

However, gaining admissions to these schools can be tough. Many of the most competitive private schools in the Toronto area, for example, receive hundreds of applications for a limited number of spots. The application process can also be quite complex and typically involves personal interviews, supplementary essays, portfolios and an admissions test such as the SSAT or other customized entrance exam.

Applications for most of the Toronto-area private schools open in September, with application deadlines in the late autumn or early winter. Many families, however, use the summer months to jump start the process. Tutoring is a popular option that promotes summer learning and prepares students specifically for the upcoming entrance exam. It is also never too early to start thinking about the interview and supplementary essays. Here at Forest Hill Tutoring, we offer a full range of services to facilitate the private school application process, from SSAT and entrance test prep to individualized interview and essay support. Last year, over 95% of Forest Hill Tutoring’s clients received admission offers to the private schools of their choice.

Many of those students will spend the next two months much like Emma: eager to begin her private school adventure. According to her mother, she has already tried on her uniform (multiple times!) and vacillates daily on which co-curriculars she will join at her new school. “Last week, it was cricket and ballet, this week, archery and the jazz choir,” she laughs. “Who knows what it will be next week?”