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.
View the most popular articles in Choosing a Private School:
It is a scenario which plays out more often than you might think. You have been looking at your child's high school with a certain amount of trepidation. The school is very large. The students get a relatively good education. But you have that persistent, nagging feeling that your child deserves more. Besides you both work. Frequent business travel has become a regular feature of your life. The bottom line is that you want your child to attend private school. But how are you going to convince her to go along with you? Let's look at some strategies and approaches which work.

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. . . .read more
Use this simple mnemonic to help you organize your search for a private school for your child. From start to finish you will probably invest up to 125 hours in this process if you are looking at boarding schools. About 50 hours if you are looking at day schools. Perhaps 25 hours if you are investigating primary and pre-schools. It's a lot of work with a lot of deadlines to fit into your busy schedule. But if you will scope out the various tasks you have to do and work through them step by step, you will get through it.

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.

Identify
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 . . .read more
Before you spend $30,000 or more on a year at private school for your child, you need to ask five questions and be guided by the answers you receive:

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. . . .read more
Over the years I have steadfastly maintained that ranks are not important. The main reason I cite is that each private school is unique and therefore cannot be compared. But enough of what I have to say on the subject. Let's look at what schools and their trade associations have to say about ranking private schools.

Here's what a state association of private schools has to say about rankings. I quote it verbatim.

 

ADVIS Position Statement on School Rankings

The Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS) is implacably opposed to the rating or ranking of schools in any shape or form. Therefore, we do not cooperate, and advise our member schools not to cooperate, with any publication that seeks to rate or rank schools.  A school, or an education, is not a consumer product comparable to a toaster. A great education depends on three key factors: the quality of the faculty, the quality of the student body, and the quality of teaching. These qualities are not quantifiable.

Source: ADVIS Statement of School Rankings

 


ADVIS goes on to reference the Statement on Ranking Schools by The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Once again I quote this document verbatim.

 

ADVIS strongly advocates the following statement from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) as the fundamental position to which we adhere.

NAIS Statement: On Ranking Schools

By: NAIS Board of Directors
Published: June 25, 2004
Updated: . . .read more
The scenario is not as uncommon as you might think. After all you have spent a considerable amount of time researching
and visiting schools in a serious effort to get it right. But after a few months you realize that something isn't right. Your child is miserable. Well, that's just one of the reasons why you might want to change schools. Let's look at some other reasons.

1. Your child has been expelled.
Ouch! This reason for changing schools is rather like being fired. It's enormously dispiriting and in many ways a life-changing experience just like losing your job is. Continuing that analogy, finding a new school for a child who has been expelled is just as difficult as finding a new job. Expect to have lots of questions asked. Have your answers well thought out. Do not equivocate. Answer the questions truthfully. The school will want to know if your child has learned his lesson. Do not speak ill of his previous school. Nobody wants to admit a trouble maker. Contrition is your watchword.

2. Your child has not been asked back.
While not as serious as being expelled, not being asked back indicates that something went wrong. Unless you plan to move out of the country, be prepared to answer some in-depth questions about why your child's previous school was not a good fit. If there were issues which the previous school felt needed to be addressed, then be sure to have your corrective action . . .read more
View Pages:<<Prev  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9  Next>>
Recent Articles
Getting Involved With Your Child's School
Getting Involved With Your Child's School
Getting involved with your child's school benefits both you and the school. It's a win-win for all concerned.
SAT Prep
SAT test prep takes time to do properly. We explore some of your options here.
Rankings or Comparisons?
Choosing the right private school for your child involves comparing schools as opposed to ranking them.
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.