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Early School (Ages 3-6)

Welcome! We'd love to have you explore the Carolina Friends Early Schools for your family.


Since its beginning, Carolina Friends School has sought to build and maintain a student body fully representative of the surrounding community. We actively seek young people diverse in race, nationality, creed, family structure, physical ability, and socioeconomic background. In doing so, we continue to seek students from families whose values are in harmony with Quaker philosophy and with the educational goals of the School, and we consider the student’s potential to benefit from and contribute to the School. Admission decisions are made by the Admission Committee, which includes the Head of each Early School and the Director of Admission. The Head of School may review decisions to ensure that they comport with School policy, which is developed by the CFS Board of Trustees.



Please apply online and submit any supporting material to the Admission Office at Carolina Friends School on the main campus (4809 Friends School Rd, Durham 27705, 919.383.6602 x221).

To be considered for admission to a CFS Early School, children need to be at least 3 years old prior to September 1 of the academic year during which they would enroll. We use the September 1 date to determine which class an Early School student would enter. When discerning when to apply for a child to attend CFS, it is important to know that students need to be able to use the bathroom independently when at school.

For the first round of admission, please apply by January 4 – the earlier the better. In coordination with other local schools affiliated with the Triangle Independent School Consortium, we will notify families applying to our Early Schools for 2017-18 on February 17, so it is important to complete the admission process – including online application, main campus tour, teacher recommendation, observation/interview at an Early School, and (except for applicants to the 3-year-old classes) play session – before the end of January when possible.

If you've missed the January 4 date, please apply anyway. We are always able to offer admission to students whose families apply after that date.

Early School Timetable:

Apply by January 4
File complete by January 31
Notification date: February 17
Reply by March 3

We welcome applications after January 4 and consider all applications when spaces arise. And if you're contemplating a move from out of town, we do all we can to work with you so that your children can be considered for admission to CFS.

The complete application process typically includes the following steps:

  • A parent tour of CFS main campus, designed to orient you to the overall program of the School. To arrange a tour, please contact Kathy Krahenbuhl, our Admission Secretary on the main campus (919.383.6602 x221 or kkrahenbuhl at cfsnc.org). Please note that the tour is for parents only and can occur either before or after written application. For a tour schedule, please see the Visiting CFS section of this website.
  • Submission of a completed application and non-refundable $50 application fee.
  • A parent observational visit at the Early School that you designate as your first choice, including a conversation between parents or guardians and the Head of that Early School. We want you to see children and teachers at work; and we want you to have the opportunity to tell us about your child, as well as to ask any questions you may have. After sending in an application, please call the Admission Secretary in the main office to schedule this visit as soon as possible. (These visits last about an hour.)
  • For applicants who are already enrolled in a daycare or preschool program, one confidential teacher recommendation. Please download the Early School recommendation found in the forms section of this site, sign it, and give it to a teacher. who will complete it and mail, fax, or scan/email it to us.
  • We have also designed play sessions through which we will meet applicants who will be 4 or older by September 1. Families arrange for their child to attend a one-hour play session on a Saturday morning in January. The sessions will be relaxed, child-friendly, and fun. After you apply, you can contact Kathy Krahenbuhl to schedule your child.

One School: Three Locations

CFS has three Early Schools: one on our main campus, one in Durham (next to Durham Friends Meeting on Duke's central campus), and one in Chapel Hill (next to Chapel Hill Friends Meeting near the UNC campus). We ask that you designate three choices for which campus and departure time you could consider. We'll arrange an observational visit at the Early School that you designate as your first choice; and we may invite you to have another observational visit depending on your flexibility.

We expect that a student will remain at an Early School for as long as you wish them to be enrolled in the CFS Early School program. We do not customarily consider transfer from one Early School to another.

We have space in our Lower School first-year class for all the "risers" who move up from our three Early Schools, so families do not have to reapply at that time.

Decisions and Notification

Families with complete applications are notified about admission decisions on February 17. Students are accepted, placed in the waiting pool, or denied admission to the School. If an application is incomplete at the time of notification, a student is placed in the waiting pool, and we encourage the family to complete the application so that the student can be considered for places that arise. Signed contracts for newly accepted students are due within ten business days.

When later spaces open up, the Admission Committee looks to the waiting pool, which includes applications received after January 4. At this point, admissions occur on a rolling basis, often into the summer if families change their plans. So it's never too late to apply to CFS!

Because our Early Schools are small, admission decisions can be challenging, especially since we need to take into account the age and gender of each child, as well as the departure time sought by each family. Therefore, it is common for families to be accepted after the first round of admission, or to be wait-listed one year and admitted when the child is older. The more flexible you can be relative to year of entry, location, and departure time, the more likely your child will be admitted to the School.

Tuition Assistance

Decisions regarding admission are made independently of consideration of families’ financial situations, although we do not always have sufficient funds to offer assistance to all the families whose children we would like to enroll. The admission and tuition aid processes are concurrent so that when we offer admission to a family, we can notify them about the tuition they will be expected to pay. To apply for assistance, please go to Tuition Aid Data Services (TADS): www.tuitionaid.com.

If a family does not apply for tuition aid when applying for admission, we will not expect to consider them for assistance in the next year unless their financial circumstances change in unexpected ways.

Limited funds for tuition aid make it impossible to accommodate every family’s unique financial circumstances, and in years when demand far exceeds available funds, grants for 3- and 4-year-olds can be limited, as we prioritize families whose children could have access to public schools. If you wonder whether you might qualify for tuition aid, you may phone the Director of Admission to discuss your situation before deciding to apply, but only a TADS analysis can determine whether your family qualifies for aid.

Future Consideration

If we cannot offer your child admission and you accept a place in our waiting pool, we will invite you to reactivate your child's application for the next year (without charge). If your child is offered admission in the spring and you refuse the offer, we would ask you to re-apply if you wanted your child considered at a later time.

The Head of School bears final responsibility for all admission decisions. Questions concerning such matters should be directed first to the Director of Admission and then, if necessary, to the Head of School. If you have questions about the status of your application, please contact the Admission Secretary or Director of Admission – not the Head of an Early School – to request information. When in doubt, please call or email us. We want to work with you!

Revised May 2016

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Carolina Friends School          
4809 Friends School Road
Durham, NC 27705
919.383.6602 tel / 919.383.6009 fax / info@cfsnc.org

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