How to get your child into an elite, big city preschool, according to admissions consultants, directors, and parents who've done it

How to get your child into an elite, big city preschool, according to admissions consultants, directors, and parents who've done it
The Washington Market School is one of experts' top choices for NYC programs.Courtesy of Julian Wright
  • Private preschools can be as notoriously difficult to get into as Ivy League colleges.
  • Every step in the process counts, from the initial tour of the school to the thank you note you send afterward.

Trying to get your kid into a prestigious preschool in a major city like New York or LA can be as competitive as trying to get them into an Ivy League institution. Parents often have to fight against limited class sizes, legacy policies, and religious affiliations.

The cutthroat landscape is a result of families eager to give their children the best education around, starting as soon as possible. To get accepted into a private kindergarten or elementary school, kids must come with strong social skills, pre-math and reading skills, and independence already formed, which makes a solid preschool foundation all the more crucial.

Luckily, parents can help their child get into the school of their choice if they take the following steps, backed by education consultants who've spent years guiding parents through the preschool application process.
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Pick your program

Some preschools show preference toward students from certain religious backgrounds or who have a parent or sibling who attended the school previously. The first step in the process is to decide which preschool is best for your child's individual circumstances. There are dozens of choices, but Insider has dug into the best programs and what it takes to get in.

Read more: The 12 most prestigious preschools in New York City and how to get in, according to parents and consultants

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Fill out your application with care

Application instructions must be followed closely if you want to impress admissions officers. These schools will want high-quality photos of your child and your family, and if you're a two-parent family, both should attend the interview. Ask good questions, and remember the preschool will be evaluating both you and your child.
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Read more: 5 important steps for getting your kid into an elite preschool, according to a veteran admissions consultant

Getting your kid into the Ivy League of preschools is notoriously cutthroat. Real parents unpacked their greatest horror stories of applying.

A Manhattan-based preschool consultant on how to handle your kid landing on a program's waitlist - and best practices for nabbing a spot
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Nail the interview and tour

Once you've toured, interviewed, or visited, send a thank you note. Remind the school of your family along with anything mentioned during your time there that you had in common with the tour guide. Some parents even take this a step further by providing lavish gifts to admissions directors, donating auction items for school fundraisers, or substantially subsidizing school events.

Read more: The lavish gifts and extreme moves wealthy parents use to get their kids into elite preschools, like recommendation letters from Bill Clinton and catering from 5-star restaurants

Parents should always write a thank you note after a preschool interview or tour. An expert shares what it should include, and 3 example letters that hit the mark.
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4 NYC parents who got their kids into prestigious preschools share how they impressed admissions and nailed the interview
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