So, let's take a look at how you can save time and money choosing a private school for your children in 2012.
Word of mouth
|Finding out more about schools||Request catalogs
Call the schools
Directories and Associations
Start with a listing of private school directories and associations like the one we have on this site. Then drill down to the state or regions in which you are interested. Most of these directories and associations have lists of member schools. Use filters to exclude schools not of interest.
The NCES site offers an exhaustive list of every private school in the nation. But it's interface is clunky.
Our site allows you to find schools using filters for all the criteria you need.
The main difference...
Don't dictate what is going to happen.
The quickest way to turn your child against any idea, no matter how rationale and well-intentioned, is to dictate. Telling her that she will be going to private school will probably not get the result you want. Think about her feelins. She has friends. They may not be the friends you might prefer her to have, but they are friends nonetheless. Sending her to private school changes the balance of her comfortable little world. Remember that teens are particularly sensitive to change. Take her out of her comfort zone and she will be most unhappy.
She must buy into the idea.
The minute she decides that going to private school is a great idea, you will be set. I realize that I sound like a manipulating adult, but that's pretty much what it takes to achieve your goal. Neither can you present the idea...
The most important caution which I or any private school consultant will give you is a very simple one: start the process as far in advance as you possibly can. At least 18 months before the fall of the year you plan your child to attend her new school. If you are forced to find a school at the last minute, it can be done. Not easy but it can be done. You will feel much less stressed when you give yourself as much lead time as you can.
This is fun because all you have to do is look at web sites. Look at as many as you want to. If you prefer requesting DVD's and catalogs, that's fine. It won't slow you down too much. Tip: only request catalogs from schools which really interest you.
There are a large variety of options even for preschools. The options multiply considerably if...
1. Does it get the results you want?
2. Does what the school teaches jibe with your requirements?
3. Will your child be happy there?
4. Is the school financially stable?
5. How will you pay for it?
There is a bit more to the process, of course, but asking these five questions will get you started on the extensive due diligence which you must do before you spend approximately $150,000 for four years of private day school or approximately $200,000 for four years of boarding school. Tuitions vary. Some are much less. Some a great deal more. We are
discussing high school and middle school too. The primary grades will run you $8,000 - $15,000 depending on the school.
Remember: private schools in the United States are not subsidized by government funding. So they will charge whatever the market forces and their budgets determine can and needs to be charged. Having said that, be aware that most private schools offer financial aid programs, some of which will pay for everything provided you are able to meet their family income thresholds. Always ask about financial aid.
Scoping out private schools is very much like buying a house or renting an apartment. There are many emotional factors which most certainly influence your final choice of a home. But you also are savvy enough to do your due diligence simply because...