Private Schools: 10 Challenges You Will Face

As you begin to think about sending your child to private school you will quickly become aware of at least ten challenges you will face. If you are intrinsically well-organized and able to cope with a major project, tackling all that's involved with getting your child safely off to private school shouldn't be too difficult. There's just a lot to the project. If you find projects daunting, hopefully this short essay will help you focus on the main sections of the process. Let's get started.

 

1. Deciding whether to send your child for primary grades or high school

I am assuming that you have made the decision to send your child to private school. We have several articles on Private School Review which explain the differences between private and public education. If you still need help making that decision, then read those first. Then circle back and pick up with this first challenge.

 

 

There are two schools of thought on whether you should send your child to primary grades or high school. One line of thinking is that your child needs a solid foundation in core skills such as reading and math, for example. That's why proponents of that approach are so adamant that you should send your child in the early, formative years.  The other school of thought touts the idea that a solid college preparatory education in the high school years is important. The thinking is that an intensive preparation for college level studies will help . . .read more

There was an interview article entitled Early Decision in Inside Higher Education which examined the issue of having a tutor or other professional help write your child's college admissions essay. It got me thinking about the type of parent who feels he or she must always 'improve' their child's work. Up to and including things like admissions essays which are supposed to be their children's own work.

 

Well, the article to which I referred above was focused on college admissions essays. Might not the same practice take place in private secondary schools? I suppose it is possible but probably unlikely. I remember when I was interviewing students for R-E-S-P-E-C-T Academy in Nassau, Bahamas. Part of the interview process included having the applicant sit at another table while her parents and I chatted. The applicant was given a sheet of paper and a pen and asked to write a paragraph or two about some simple topic. "My favorite meal" or something like that. There was absolutely no way the parents could interfere with their child's writing. She had to do it all by herself.

Think of the admissions essay as a snapshot

Why is writing your own admissions essay so important? Because the admissions staff wants to know what your child thinks, what her opinions are and how she arrives at those conclusions. An essay synthesizes so many things which your child has learned over the years.  An essay provides a window into your child's . . .read more
I believe that accreditation is necessary for any educational institution. Simply put, accreditation is to a school or college what an academic diploma or degree is to an individual. That objective stamp of approval is earned by meeting a prescribed set of standards. The assessment of whether the school has met those standards is made by independent members of the accrediting organization. 
 

Why is accreditation necessary for a school? Because it confirms that the school is committed to obtaining the best possible outcomes for its students. Parents want to know that they are making the right decision in choosing a private school for their children. Accreditation reassures parents that the school's programs have been evaluated and have met the standards required for accreditation.
 

Accreditation is typically administered by regional associations which have specific areas of the country under their purview.
 
 
Here is a list of the associations together with the states and areas which they cover:
 
Covers: MSA: Washington DC, Delaware,  Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Overseas
 
Covers: Utah, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Montana and Costa Rica
 
Covers: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming
 
Let's start our discussion with this question: what if a school you are looking at is not accredited? Does it matter?
 
Does Accreditation Matter?

There are plenty of fine private schools which are not accredited. But the fact that they are not accredited means that you and I have to do a lot more basic due diligence as we evaluate unaccredited schools. Many of the foundational issues which an accreditation process covers in great detail now become our responsibility to investigate. Think of this investigation just like the inspection which you commission when you put an offer on a house. The house looks perfect. But is its infrastructure perfect? Are there flaws which are not readily apparent? The inspector's report will reveal the good and the items which need fixing.  That's basically how accreditation works. The properly executed accreditation process celebrates the school's good points and offers suggestions for fixing what is deficient.
 

Does Accreditation Matter for College Admissions?

Some experts claim that it doesn't matter much whether or not a high school or school district is accredited. The issue surfaces any time a school or a school district loses its accreditation or is threatened with its loss. The truth of the matter is that accreditation is just one piece of the admissions profile for candidates. I was unable to find any examples of a college rejecting an otherwise well-qualified candidate simply because she had the misfortune to graduate from a school which had lost its accreditation. [Source: Maureen Downey . . .read more
The National Tutoring Association has crafted a fine Code of Ethics for its members. While I am well aware that most tutors do not belong to a national organization such as the NTA, nonetheless the NTA's Code of Ethics present a set of guidelines by which you and I as parents can evaluate the tutors we hire for our children. For sake of this discussion I also include any teacher who primarily works on a 1 on 1 basis as a tutor. For example, piano, art and dance instructors, as well as the math and English tutors you will expect to encounter.
 
Using the NTA's Code of Ethics I have offered comments on each of their tenets. Use these comments to help you assess and evaluate any tutor you hire.
 
Code of Ethics
The National Tutoring Association is dedicated to providing its members with opportunities to achieve and maintain high professional standards for tutors and administrators of tutoring programs and services.
 
I understand that my role as a tutor is to enable students to do their own work using the best learning approach possible.  
 
RK: The extra time and attention which a tutor affords his students makes it possible for them to understand the material presented. More importantly a tutor can take time to explain the variations and possibilities inherent in the original problem so that his student is able to recognize them when they do occur. Equipping students to do their own work is vital.

 

I will provide honest feedback in the . . .read more
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