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:
Ten years ago choosing a private school was at a crossroads. Back then you had the traditional ways of finding schools and finding out more about them. You asked around. You contacted schools you knew about. You bought a directory of private schools, if indeed one was available. (I still have a vintage copy of The New York Times Guide to New York City Schools written by Grace and Fred Hechinger published in 1968.) Or you hired an educational consultant.

So, let's take a look at how you can save time and money choosing a private school for your children in 2012.

 

  2000 2012
Finding schools Books
Word of mouth
Consultant
Internet searches
Directory listings
Association listings
Finding out more about schools Request catalogs
Call the schools
Consultant
Online tours
YouTube
Social media

 

In 2012 we literally have more information - and misinformation - than we can assimilate. Assuming that you are savvy enough to use reputable sources, you shouldn't have much difficulty finding schools. Here are some places to look.

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 read more
Actually there are many more things to know about private school than the four items I have chosen. But this will get you started. For most of us the idea of sending your child to private school begins with that nagging feeling that she's very bright and needs the very best kind of schooling possible. So you start exploring your options. That leads you to web sites. And it also raises many questions. So the four points I am going to expand on below are really affirmations of what you probably already knew anyway.
 
Private schools are not ranked.  As you explore schools on the web, you quickly realize that there is no way to rank schools. It's perfectly normal to want to send your child to the 'best' school. But how can you identify that school if there is no ranking system? First of all, let's deal with the reality of private schools and ranking. They cannot be ranked. Why? Because they are unique. Take the 400+ boarding schools we have in the U.S. Each one is different. Not better. Not worse. Simply different. Their locations, their facilities, their curricula - all different. The commonality is that they offer an excellent education.
 
You can compare programs, course offerings and a host of other factors using our checklists. Checklist for Comparing Schools: Administration and Faculty and Checklist for Comparing Schools - Curriculum and Instruction are designed to keep all the important points organized. Once you identify what your requirements are, then matching a school with those requirements is the next step in the . . .read more
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
View Pages:<<Prev  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9  Next>>
Recent Articles
Homeschool or Private School?
Homeschool or Private School?
What do you do when you are dissatisfied with your local public schools? Homeschool your children? Send them to private school? Let's look at your options.
Religious Schools: An Overview
Your religion matters to you. You want your child to attend a school which will combine academics and religious education. Here is an overview of what is available together with some links to denominational web sites.
7 Ways to Improve Your Math Scores
Add things up and you'll quickly find the answer- math is crucial both in academics and the real world. By following these strategies and following personal training programs, students can uncover their weaknesses and conquer math.
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.