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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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
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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. Test your knowledge. Dispel some urban legends about private schools.

Do you know....?

 

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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
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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
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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
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Choosing a Private School

Getting Started