It happens, even to good kids with lots of friends: Some children don't get into the private kindergarten or grade school of their choice.

I always knew this could happen, but until some friends I knew experienced this kind of rejection, I didn't really understand that it could happen to any kid, not just to those who are struggling in school or exhibiting behavior problems.

With more children living in Center City, it seems inevitable that getting into private school will grow more competitive. At least we're not New York, where many parents start plotting a child's kindergarden destination long before pregnancy.

But my friends' experience reminded me that I may need to plan differently when we apply in the fall for my son. I'm not yet sure what this means. Mostly, we probably really need to be ready to move out of the city. We may apply to three private schools, instead of just two.

My local public school is not an option for us. I don't know anyone in the neighborhood who sends their children there. And while I'm hopeful that we can transfer into a better Philadelphia public school outside our catchment, admission is not guaranteed.

My friends, fortunately, lived in a catchment for a good public school, one that undoubtedly will benefit from their presence.

As we gear up for the fall/winter school application season, save this time and date: The Center City Residents Association, the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and the South of South Street Neighborhood Association are planning a school fair from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. October 17 at the Ethical Society Foundation on Rittenhouse Square. The groups are inviting representatives from Philadelphia public, charter and private schools to share information with prospective parents.

More details in future posts.