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:
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....?

 

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 . . .read more
A private school education is not cheap. It is a substantial financial sacrifice for many families. 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.
 
We often forget that public schools are not free. You and I pay for public schools directly and indirectly through our property and other taxes. Public school facilities and properties are not taxable. As a result they reduce the tax rolls of the municipality in which they are located. 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. 
 
What kind of education are your public schools providing? Do the public schools offer the depth and breadth of academic programs you want and need for your child? What about sport programs and extracurricular activities? Have these been cut or substantially reduced because of budget cuts? Peter Green spells out what budget cuts can do to an arts program in his article What We Lose When We Cut Fine Arts Education. It is pretty much the same story with any program which is deemed an extra in public education.
 
Private education is an investment in your child's future. You educate your child privately because you want something better for your child. Private schools do not cut sports, arts and extracurricular funding as a rule. Parents expect a full . . .read more
You would think that finding out how one private school compares to another would be a no brainer, right? In a consumer driven age where we can find out information instantly, it is still very difficult and very tedious to find out how one private school compares to another. In other words, there is no easy answer to the question parents ask most often: “What is the best school in _______?”
 
Why is it so hard to get answers? For two reasons. First of all, the private schools themselves circle their wagons and will not participate in any survey which tries to rank schools. The private school community refuses to engage in the sort of annual publicity stunt which U.S. News and World Report and other publications put out for colleges and universities every year
 
Secondly, private schools don't receive any direct public funding. As a result, they are not subject to the kind of reporting requirements with which public schools must comply. NCLB (No Child Left Behind) does not apply to private schools, only to public schools. 
 
The federal Department of Education does maintain data on private schools. The Private School Universe Survey (PSS)   supplies statistical information about K-12 private schools. The PSS does not rank schools. It merely helps you determine how many Montessori schools are located in Montana. It is useful for policy makers and planners who need to know how many students go to private schools as opposed to public schools. It will not . . .read more
If you live abroad and are thinking about sending your child to an American private school, you need to be aware of several things about American schools. If you are being transferred to the United States by your employer, your move will entail help with finding and paying for private schools for your school age children. Let's explore five characteristics of American private schools about which you need to know.
 
1. The U.S. has many private schools.
 
First of all, like everything else in the U.S., the sheer number of private K-12 schools in the United States is positively overwhelming. There are over 29,000 private schools. See Private Schools: A Brief Portrait for an overview of the private school scene. Private schools educate approximately 10% of K-12 students.

This video gives you an idea of why Cabrini High School in New Orleans, Louisiana is much loved by its students. Children attend American private schools by choice, not because they have to.
 
 
In North America “public” denotes a school which receives funding from a government entity. The federal, state and/or local authorities support our public schools with tax dollars. Generally public schools are largely funded by property taxes at the local municipal level. Private schools, on the other hand, are generally supported almost exclusively by their own resources. These include tuition fees, fund-raising campaigns and endowments. Private schools do not, as a rule, accept any form of state funding. To do so would jeopardize . . .read more
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Choosing a Private School

GETTING STARTED