Tuesday, March 2, 2010

R2I school admissions - FAQ

This blog post captures the most commonly asked questions regarding school admissions. The answers are based on my own personal experiences in finding a KG admission for my kid and based on the information that I gathered from friends/colleagues.  

Also read:  

Questions asked during KG interview in Schools
List of CBSE schools in Chennai
  • When do school admissions typically start?
School admissions typically start in the month of Oct for the next academic year. For example, if you want to put your kid(s) in school for the year 2011, you should start looking for admissions in Oct, 2010.
  • What is the ideal time of the year to R2I, to take care of kid's school admissions?
Schools begin their admissions at least 6 months before the academic year starts. So, you should plan your R2I accordingly.   (Also read: R2I checklist - 25 things to do)
  • Do I have to stand in a long queue for admissions?
No (most of the times). Schools do issue lots of application forms. In fact, the admission forms are distributed for 2 or 3 days in a row. Schools make good money out of application forms and so they don't hesitate to issue application forms to everyone.

However, there is a general perception that schools only shortlist people for interviews on a first come, first served basis. I was the applicant #5 for one of the schools in Chennai. However, they haven't called us yet for the interviews.

If you can afford to go early to beat the queue, you are very much encouraged to do so.
  • Can I get a seat for my kid in school, from being in US?
Technically you can book/block a seat for your kid in school, from being in US. You can get admissions easily in schools that are trying to establish.

If you are specifically looking for Tier-I or Tier-II schools (i.e., the most popular ones), the chances of getting a seat from being in US are very slim.
  • Do I need recommendation to get admission into a good school?
Yes. Based on my experience, recommendation from 'influential' people go a long way.

The law of supply & demand comes into play, when it comes to school admissions. If there are too many contenders for a fixed number of school seats, the most influential ones would be given higher preference.
  • Do all schools demand donation?
Yes ... in some form or the other. For example, some schools get the donation in the form of "Admission Fee" or "School Development Fund"
  • Do I have to pay the donation amount in cash or check?
Different schools have different practice. Some expect the donation amount to be paid in cash and others accept a check from you.
  • What are some of the fees charged by schools for admission?

Donation or School Development Fund or Admission Fee (non refundable)
Caution or Security Deposit (refundable)

Recurring / Yearly Fee

School Tuition Fee
Cost of Books
Cost of School Uniforms

Optional (only when you use the infrastructure)

Transportation Charges
Boarding charges
Post-school hours day care
Extra-Curricular activities (Swimming, Tennis, Karate, Dance, Scouts etc.,)

Miscellaneous Fee (will go out of your pocket during the course of the academic year)

Picnic / Excursions
Participation in Exhibitions
Participation in Annual Day Celebrations
Inter School Competition Registration
Art Work / Project Work
  • How much does kid's education cost?
The cost of education drastically varies based on the school. It can be anywhere from Rs. 35,0000 per year to Rs.1,00,000 per year (irrespective of the standard/class to which you are admitting your kid). For example, the school in which I got admission for my daughter charges the same fee from Pre-KG to VII std. For classes from VIII - XII, there is an additional Rs.15,000 fee.

This amount does not include the donations. The donations can vary from Rs.25,000 to Rs.1,00,000.

(Note: These are prevailing schooling costs in Chennai as of 2010)

Also read: How much money do you need to R2I?
  • How easy is to get admission in a good school?
It is extremely difficult to get admission in good schools. You need to have recommendations from influential people to get admission in a good school. Money also goes a long way, in some of these schools. Your kid's interview performance alone doesn't decide the seat allotment.

You should be very aggressive to find the right contacts in/outside the school. Continuously ping the school administrators and show your interests. There are instances, where my friends/colleagues have to meet the school principal directly a few times, before getting a seat.
  • Who are some people that can provide recommendation for school admissions?
Teachers/Staff working in the same school
Parents of students who are studying in the same school for a long time
School's board members / trustees
Key politicians
Key educational board officials
Government officials higher-up in the rank

- There may be multiple people approaching the school with recommendations from the above set of people. Who influences the most will get a seat. For example, we got a recommendation letter from the P.A of Chief Minister with his own government stamp on it. The school authorities simply said that they have multiple recommendations from CM's P.As and they may not be able to honor them. Of course, we tried this after the admission results were published. If we had gotten a recommendation before the admission results were announced, we could've gotten a seat in the school

- If you are getting a recommendation letter from an XYZ IAS officer, and another  person is getting a recommendation from the IAS officer who approves educational grants, the latter would have more influence on the admission process
  • What is the recommended mode of communication with school authorities?
It is recommended to do in-person visits, if it is possible. The next mode of contact should be over the phone. Don't expect any cordial responses over the phone. The person who is attending the phone call would be very eager to disconnect (He/She may receive 10s/100s of such calls during the admission season. So, they may not be excited about patiently responding back to your queries)

Don't try to send emails to the email address given in the school's website. So, far I haven't received any responses to the emails sent to school's email address (even from popular schools such as Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (aka PSBB), and Chinmaya Vidyalaya)

  • Does the child's citizenship make any difference in the fee ? 
 No. The child's citizenship doesn't make any difference in the fee (at least, the schools that I talked to, didn't have any difference in fee for US citizens)

However, I would recommend you to check with the school administration - just in case, the school had a special fee structure for foreign students.

Also read:

Getting a KG admission in school - the math behind it
Questions asked during KG interview in Schools


  1. Does the child's citizenship make any difference in the fee ?

  2. No. The child's citizenship doesn't make any difference in the fee (at least, the schools that I talked to, didn't have any difference in fee for US citizens)

    However, I would recommend you to check with the school administration - just in case, the school had a special fee structure for foreign students.

  3. We r planning to move to India in May 2010. Just wanted to find out some good schools in Chennai for my kids in grd 3 and 2 respectively.Pls give me some suggestions as to how I approach the person regarding this.

  4. Here is the list of CBSE schools that I have (it is not complete). Many of these schools have already completed their admission process. But, it doesn't hurt to call & check.

    1. Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB), Nungambakkam & KK Nagar
    2. Padma Seshadri Millenium School, St. Thomas Mount
    3. Sherwood Hall Senior Secondary School, Harrington Road
    4. Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Harrington Road
    5. DAV Senior Secondary School, Gopalapuram & Anna Nagar
    6. Chennai Public School, Anna Nagar West (admission is still going on)
    7. SBOA, Anna Nagar West
    8. Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Mylapore, Chennai
    9. Bala Vidya Mandir, Adyar, Chennai
    10. Chettinad Vidyashram, R.A.Puram, Chennai

    If you are serious about returning back in May 2010, I would even recommend one of the parents to come to Chennai for a month and get this thing sorted out first. Alternatively, one of you can R2I early with the kids.

  5. Hi,

    I am planning to put my 6 yr old daughter in school in Chennai? What are the good cbse schools in chennai around Tambaram, chrompet area?


  6. PSBB has a branch in St. Thomas Mt (GST Road). I heard that it is good.

    You can look at the list of other CBSE schools in Chennai, here.


    - Saro


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