Getting Started

In this section we offer a look into some of the most important factors of choosing a private school. Investigate single-sex education and read what students have to say, learn more about what is important when choosing a private school, and get valuable advice on transitioning to a new school.
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The pendulum has swung once more. This time in favor of the advantages of single sex education. New research quantifies what many of us have known anecdotally, namely that single sex education works. Here are a dozen or so boys' schools' public thoughts about themselves and their missions.

 

From Avon Old Farms, Avon, Connecticut
 
 
"As a boys' boarding school, our programs are designed specifically to help young men focus on their development at a time in life when distractions abound. Although numerous opportunities exist for our students to interact with girls from Miss Porter's, Ethel Walker's and other nearby schools, boys are free to live and learn in our structured, supportive environment. In an all-boys context, our students embrace scholastic challenges and compete in the athletic arena while feeling safe exploring the arts, experimenting with poetry, expressing school spirit, and just being themselves."

 

Avon Old Farms offers grades 9-12 as well as a Postgraduate year. The school serves approximately 500 young men.

 
From Marquette University High School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
 

 
"MUHS has evolved with each passing decade to meet the changing needs of the young men in our community and like our 17th Century namesake, Father Jacques Marquette, students, faculty and staff members share a passion for exploring uncharted territory, whether it’s in a textbook or their own hearts."

 

Marquette University High Schools offers grades 9-12. The school serves approximately 1050 young men.
 
From Bellarmine College Preparatory, San Jose, California
 

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 I thought it might be instructive to gather a dozen or so girls' schools' public thoughts about themselves and their missions. The words which I have quoted can be found on each school's web site. Hopefully if you are thinking about sending your daughter to an all girls' school, you will be inspired to explore the opportunities available to you in these fine educational environments committed to educating your daughters to be all they can be.

 

From Nightingale-Bamford School, New York, New York

 

 

 
"Founded by two bold, visionary entrepreneurs in the same year that women won the right to vote, the Nightingale-Bamford School has helped generations of girls to become strong, independent, confident women. We offer a rigorous, college-preparatory education from Kindergarten through grade 12 in a caring and attentive school community."

"Over the 90 years since our school was founded, we have graduated almost 3,000 alumnae, expanded our building four times, and adopted new disciplines and means of teaching. But throughout it all, we've retained the same guiding principles that Miss Nightingale and Miss Bamford instilled in those first students: truth, friendship, and loyalty."

The Nightingale-Bamford School offers grades K-12. The school serves approximately 570 young ladies.
 
From Saint Mary's School, Raleigh, North Carolina
 

 
"Saint Mary’s School has developed curriculum and employed strategies that capitalize on the strengths of girls on their journey to college and life. Girls’ schools support a culture, climate and community that...
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When you think of single sex education as a choice or an option when you are thinking about sending your child to private school, the subject becomes a little easier to understand in the 21st century. Historically private schools have offered single sex education for decades. Indeed many of our older K-12 schools were founded with the purpose of educating boys or girls separately. That's the way things were done back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Colleges and universities were also set up as single sex institutions. For example, Harvard University was an all-male university until 1977 when its sister college, Radcliffe, merged with it.
 
Characteristics of single sex schools
 
How do we define a single-sex school? By definition a single sex school is a school which educates boys or girls exclusively. As a general rule classes will not be co-educational. On occasion neighboring boys and girls schools which have an established relationship will host co-educational classes. 
 
What grades do single sex schools offer? Typically single sex schools are high schools offering grades 9 through 12 and a Post Graduate year where available. A handful of single sex schools offer the middle school grades 6 through 9. Even fewer schools offer PK-12. You will also notice that middle school grades go up to grade 9 and high school begins with grade 9 as well. Actually grade 10 is probably the most common entry point for private high schools. That’s one reason for the overlap of the grades. 

In the following video...
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Perhaps you are just starting to think about private high school for your middle schooler. Or perhaps you have started the process of choosing the right private school and have some questions about how to proceed. These five 'must haves' will hopefully help you focus on the things which are really important when it comes to choosing a private school.
 
1. The best fit
 
Always number one on my list is the fit. Fit trumps everything else simply because fit is all about how your child and the school mesh. If they are not in synch, the result will be an unhappy child. Keep this in mind as you visit schools on your short list. Your child will know instinctively whether or not she likes the school.
 
Now, having pointed out how important fit is, it makes good sense to engineer the visits so that she likes all the schools on your short list. How do you do that? You hire an educational consultant who will identify schools which will be a good fit. That's what an educational consultant does. Consultants take time to get to know you and your child. They know their schools too. As a result the list of schools which a consultant presents you will be on target. Any or all of the schools will potentially be a good fit. One will be the best fit. Visiting schools on a list of schools carefully selected with your needs and requirements in mind will be a pleasure because almost...
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Actually there are many more things to know about private school than the four items I have chosen. But this will get you started. For most of us the idea of sending your child to private school begins with that nagging feeling that she's very bright and needs the very best kind of schooling possible. So you start exploring your options. That leads you to web sites. And it also raises many questions. So the four points I am going to expand on below are really affirmations of what you probably already knew anyway.
 
Private schools are not ranked.  As you explore schools on the web, you quickly realize that there is no way to rank schools. It's perfectly normal to want to send your child to the 'best' school. But how can you identify that school if there is no ranking system? First of all, let's deal with the reality of private schools and ranking. They cannot be ranked. Why? Because they are unique. Take the 400+ boarding schools we have in the U.S. Each one is different. Not better. Not worse. Simply different. Their locations, their facilities, their curricula - all different. The commonality is that they offer an excellent education.
 
You can compare programs, course offerings and a host of other factors using our checklists. Checklist for Comparing Schools: Administration and Faculty and Checklist for Comparing Schools - Curriculum and Instruction are designed to keep all the important points organized. Once you identify what your requirements are, then matching a school with those requirements is the next step in the...
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Choosing a Private School

GETTING STARTED