Choosing a Private School

This section will provide expert advice, valuable tools, and relevant resources to aid in the decision making process. Learn more about what factors to consider when choosing a private school, what to expect at an open house, and how an educational consultant can help.
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About Girls' Schools: In Their Words
Here are a dozen or so girls' schools' public thoughts about themselves and their missions.
 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...
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When Should You Consider a Military School?
If you are looking for a college preparatory education with a military emphasis, then take a look at military schools.
One of the best things about private schools is that there is a school or schools out there just right for your educational objectives, whatever those might be. 

What about military schools? When might you consider sending your son or daughter to a military school? Let’s settle a couple of things before we proceed: military schools are not places you send a child with discipline or other issues. They are not reform schools or schools for troubled youth. They are genuine institutions of learning with a specific focus: military training. Secondly, military service is not required when you attend a military high school. If your child decides that military service is a career path which she wants, then a military school will have given her a good start.
 
If the following are things you are looking for in a private school, maybe a military school is right for you. Check out the web sites. Then visit the schools and see for yourself.
 
Discipline
Just about anything worth doing well requires lots of discipline. Discipline takes hard work, persistence, stamina and time. In an era when instant gratification seems endemic, good old-fashioned discipline lays a solid foundation for success in adult life. Discipline evolves into a pattern of self-discipline. After several years of this kind of training your child will know what she has to do to accomplish her objectives. Military schools serve up discipline as regularly as they serve breakfast.
 
Structure
Structure goes hand in hand with discipline. Structure and discipline sound rigorous and they...
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Single Sex Education at a Glance
Think of single sex education as another option as you consider which school is the right one for your child.
When you think of single sex education as a choice or an option, the subject becomes a little easier to understand in the 21st century. Private schools have offered single sex education for decades. Indeed many of our older schools were founded with the purpose of educating boys or girls separately.

Characteristics of Single Sex Schools
What grades do they offer? Typically single sex schools are high schools offering grades 9 through 12/PG. There are a handful of single sex schools which 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.

Single sex schools come in both boarding and day versions. There are single sex religious schools, military schools and so on.

The Advantage of Single Sex Education
The proponents and opponents of single sex education have firmly-held views. I think it is fair to say that the actual research into the advantages and disadvantages of single sex education is pretty meagre. I list the primary sources for you to read in depth. That’s why I concluded long ago that single sex education needs to be thought of as a choice. It is not better than coeducation in my opinion. Nor is it worse. It is simply an option for us parents to keep in mind as we...
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Traditional vs Non-traditional Schools
Early on in the process of choosing a private school for your child you need to decide whether to send her to a traditional or non-traditional school.
As you begin to pursue the idea of sending your child off to private school, you will need to come to grips with differing approaches to teaching.  What it really comes down to is whether you want to send your child to a school that uses a traditional approach to teaching or one that uses a non-traditional approach. In the public school world a traditional school is a regular public school and a non-traditional school is a charter school. That's not what I am discussing here with respect to private schools. The concept of a private school as an independent largely self-financing corporate entity does not change. You and I are going to focus on what is taught in the classroom and how it is taught.
 
The early years
Your child's age is a major factor when it comes to choosing an educational approach. For example, if you send him to a Montessori school as a toddler, you are exposing him to a non-traditional approach to education. It is an excellent approach and highly regarded. But non-traditional nonetheless. Start your child off in a Montessori, Waldorf or Reggio Emilia school and you will lay solid foundations for learning in later life. But visit a traditional private primary school and you will see a quite different approach to early education.
 
Obvious differences will be the dress code. Uniforms are required at many traditional religious schools. The curricula follow traditional blocks of science, math, language arts and social studies. Add religion if the school...
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Choosing a School: 5 Must Haves
Whether you are just beginning the process of choosing a private school or several months into it, make sure that you keep these five 'must haves' front and center in your thinking.
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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Choosing a Private School

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.

Finding Schools

Learn more about how to find and evaluate private schools. Find out why price should not be your only consideration. Get valuable advice on how to save time and money when choosing a school. Learn more about ranking schools and why it may not work.

Evaluating Schools

Here you will find resources and tools to aid in your search and evaluation of private schools. Explore the ranking system and read what schools have to say about it. Learn more about the most important questions to ask and how an education consultant can get answers. Use our checklists to help compare school administration, curriculum and more.