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.
View the most popular articles in Getting Started:
What is Really Important in Choosing a School?
What is really important in choosing a private school? Ranks? Academics? Financial aid? Sports programs? Arts programs? One of these criteria doesn't matter. The others do.
It's rather bewildering perusing dozens and dozens of beguiling private school web sites. Especially if you have never visited a private school before. They are all so different. How can you ever decide which one is best for your daughter? Start with a very basic strategy, a game plan if you will. Here's what's really important in choosing a private school.

Your requirements
Your requirements trump everything. So have a family discussion. Be relaxed and open-minded because your requirements as a parent are going to be different from your daughter's. You are thinking the best educational experience. She's thinking about her life and her friends and the reality that she will have a whole new situation to deal with. That's scary for a young person. But you can make it an adventure and get her to buy into going to private school if you are patient, informative and, above all, a listener. Dictating will get you nowhere in a hurry.

So, what's really important? Ponder these questions and then develop some answers after having that family discussion.

  • Are you looking for a traditional college prep school experience or something else?
  • Is your religion a major determining factor?
  • What about sports? Arts programs?

If college preparation is your goal, then focus on the quality of the academic curriculum. Look at the faculty. Do they have degrees in their subjects? Masters or doctorates? Is there breadth and depth in the course offerings? Do you require strong sciences? A rich array of languages and humanities? What about the enrichment...
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5 Factors for a Successful Private School Experience
As you consider sending your child to private school, think about these five factors which make for a successful private school experience.
As you consider sending your child to private school, think about these five factors which make for a successful private school experience.

The right school With dozens of private schools to choose from, choosing the right one is probably the most crucial item on this list. Which is the right school? You'll know it when you visit it and talk to the admissions staff. It's the school which best meets your requirements as a parent and the requirements of that precious cargo which you are about to entrust to the school.

You can review the statistics and data about the school. You can determine that its philosophy and educational mission align with your goals and objectives. But the real question is how will your child fit in. If you feel good about your answer to that question, you are all set.


The right sports
As you review private schools, you will begin to realize that each school is unique. The facilities and programs are different at each school. Yes, each school may have a hockey team, for example, but at what level is the hockey actually being played? What's the coaching staff like? Sports are an integral part of most private school programs. But, as with everything else in this process, assume nothing. Investigate the sports offered, the level of the programs offered and the facilities. Your child will spend from 6-12 hours a week playing sports. Make it the best experience possible so that you set healthy...
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Do You Know....?
If you know the answers to all these questions, you probably teach or work in a private school. Be that as it may, these questions contain links with the answers.
Do you know....? If you know the answers to all these questions, you probably teach or work in a private school. Be that as it may, these questions contain links with the answers. Test your knowledge. Dispel some urban legends about private schools.

Do you know....?

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Small Is Good
Private schools offer individualized attention to their students because their class sizes are generally small.
Private schools learned a long time ago that small is good. Most prep schools have a student population of about 300-400 students. You will find larger and smaller schools, of course. Exeter is an example of a very large prep school. With a population of 1100 students and commensurate numbers of faculty and staff, Exeter is a large institution.

By contrast South Kent School is an example of a small school with 150 students. What do Exeter and South Kent have in common? A low student to faculty ratio. Typically private schools have student-faculty ratios in a range of 10:1. This is the genius of private schools. This is what you are really paying for when you send your child to private school: the personal attention to her learning needs.

Low student to faculty ratio is another way of saying that the class sizes are small. That is a good thing. You see, in a small school your daughter cannot escape and hide from view like she can in a large public school with large class sizes. When she sits around a Harkness table with fourteen other students and the teacher in the middle, there's no hiding anything.

As a result of small classes, teachers are able to dig deeply into the material. They are able to explore the sidebars and cement the fundamentals in place. (Parenthetically, it is a very satisfying feeling to be able to truly teach as one can do in a private...
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The Value of a Private School Education
Why pay $30,000, $40,000 or more for something which public education gives you for free? Here are five reasons why you would do so.
A private school education is not cheap. So why do parents willingly pay $30,000, $40,000 or more for something which public education provides free? Here are five reasons why you would do so.


1. Public education is not free.
You and I pay for public schools directly and indirectly through our property and other taxes. Attend a budget hearing for your local school district. Examine the financial statements. Then you will understand how and where your tax dollars are spent. Private education is an investment in your child's future. You educate your child privately because you want something better for your child.

2. Compare the teaching.
Public school teachers may be highly qualified, but they have to spend inordinate amounts of time on non-teaching responsibilities such as discipline. Much of their teaching time is spent teaching to the test.
 
Private school teachers are also highly qualified. They teach, coach a club or activity and, at boarding schools, act as dorm masters. Discipline is virtually a non-issue. They are able to teach at a high level and in great depth.
 

3. Public school class sizes are larger.
Students who want to stay on the fringe can do so in a public school. The large, impersonal nature of most American high schools allows anonymity to flourish.
You can't hide in a class of 12 students in a private school. Low student to teacher ratio is one of the reasons why a private education is so expensive.


4. Curricula are mandated by the state education authorities.
Public school teachers are often required...
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3 Tips for an Effective Private School Job Search
Use these tips to tweak your job search strategies as you seek employment in a private school.
5 Financial Aid DOs and DONTs
Part of the private school selection process is financial aid. We point out five issues about which you should be aware.
Choosing a Private School

GETTING STARTED