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:
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. 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 . . .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
Changing schools and moving can be stressful events, even if the entire family is excited about the move. The purpose of this article is to give you a checklist of all the things you may need to think about as you orchestrate your move and what you may need to do when changing schools. We have set up the list of things to do along a timeline, to mirror you own busy schedule as you get your household and school paperwork in order.

As soon as you decide to move
 
  • Changing Schools?
    • Private schools often have rigorous admissions. As soon as you realize that a move is necessary, you should research the private schools in the area and set up interviews so that you can better ascertain your family's fit for the school.
    • Get on the waiting lists. Even if you cannot get your children into your first choice school because they do not have room, stay on their waiting list. Students drop out, move themselves, etc.
    • Consider using an Educational Consultant from your target destination to help you decide where to try to place your children when you move.
    • Give yourself enough time for your children to take admissions tests if required or placement tests so that the school can best determine fit for your children.
    • Found out if there are any extra-curricular activities that require early enrollment or may involve practice over the summer before the school year starts.
  • Find day care services or extended day services as soon as possible. Most . . .read more
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GETTING STARTED