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:
When you begin comparing schools on your short list, you need to review what is being taught and how it is being taught. Instruction goes to the heart of what private schools are really all about. That is the main reason private schools exist. Parents want certain things taught and they want them taught a certain way. The state education department will require every school under its jurisdiction to meet certain minimum requirements. For example, a high school student must receive a certain number of credits in English and mathematics in order to graduate. Private schools typically exceed any minimums specified by the state department of education.

With this as a backdrop you want to take time to review the courses offered in the schools on your short list. Do they match your objectives and requirements? Do they offer the depth and intensity which you want your child to have? For example, Shakespeare is taught in many public high school English courses. Typically one play will be covered. By contrast a private school English class will read two or three Shakespeare plays. Because private school classes are small and the students focused on their academic work, much more can be accomplished.

International Baccalaureate
About thirty private schools offer a curriculum known as the International Baccalaureate. It is a comprehensive program which covers kindergarten through 12th grade. The diploma program is offered in high school. Like any other international diploma the IB offers consistency and a . . .read more
When you begin comparing schools on your short list, it is important to at least be aware of certain important aspects of the school and its operation. While you can certainly tell whether a school is well-run just by visiting it and observing the condition of the grounds and facilities, it is worth asking a few detailed questions. The answers to these questions can be found online as a rule, so explore the school's website thoroughly before asking the admissions staff.
 
How long has the head of school/principal been in office?
 
This question speaks to the stability of the school. If the headmaster or headmistress (also called head and occasionally director) has been there for a couple of years, that's a good sign. Private school heads will stay forever if they are doing a good job and the trustees are satisfied with his job performance. Nowadays a private school head is the de facto CEO of the school. But his major responsibility is going to be in the area of fundraising. Public relations is another part of his brief.
 
If the door to the headmaster's office has become a revolving one with several heads coming and going over a period of a few years, you might want to find out why they didn't stay. Most private schools conduct national searches for a head of school and involve the school community in the process. So it would be unusual for a school to get the fit wrong.
 
Is there a strategic plan in place?
 
Granted, . . .read more
If you are a Jewish parent thinking about private school for your son or daughter, you will probably want to consider sending your child to a Jewish school. Of course, much depends on how observant a Jew you are or consider yourself to be. That will influence your decision in many ways, some subtle, some more obvious.

Many questions will surface at this point. Here are some which you should answer before proceeding with a more detailed search for the right school. As you think of other questions which need answering, add them to the list.

 

  • Why should your child attend a Jewish school?
  • When should your child attend a Jewish school?
  • How should your child be taught?
  • What should your child be taught?
  • Where should your child go to school?

 

Why should your child attend a Jewish school?

This question addresses perhaps the most important aspect of this discussion. Why, indeed, do you want your child to have a Jewish education? This is something which only you as parents can decide. Is your family tradition driving this decision? Are your religious beliefs that important to you and your family that a Jewish education for your children is simply the only option? You need to understand that any parent who sends his child to a religious school is making a very strong statement about his faith and the importance it holds in his life. It will set your child from his peers in a very secular world where religious values and principles are . . .read more
As we have pointed out in Do Ranks Matter? it is extremely difficult and time-consuming for ordinary people to find the data and information we need to arrive at some sort of ranking system for private schools. But if we did rank private schools, here is how we would do it.

Visit the schools.
"Wait a minute!" you are thinking. What about important stuff like how selective the school is, where its graduates went to college, how many faculty have terminal degrees and so on? Put those considerations on hold. First things first. Visit the schools.

Would you buy a house based only on a few pictures and some publicly available information like taxes and comparables? No. You'd visit the house personally and look in every nook and cranny. You would visualize yourself living in the house with your things. You would make sure you liked the neighborhood. If being close to shops and other amenities is important  to you, you would review that aspect of the equation as well. How long a commute to work will you have? The list of questions which you will want answered is your own very personal list of questions.

See where we are going with this? How the schools you visit fit your needs best determines which school is best for you. Right now you are probably beginning to realize that this is a lot of work and will take a lot of time. Our read more
What is a therapeutic school? A therapeutic school is a special residential school designed to help troubled children, typically teenagers, with a variety of emotional and other problems. As a rule the child cannot get the consistent treatment she needs in a local school and at home. As a result it makes sense in many cases to send the child away to a highly structured environment where she will receive the treatment she needs 24/7. Most schools also work with their students to get the academics back on track as well.

The Admissions Process
Admissions under the supervision of a consulting physician or other professional can occur at any convenient time. You don't have to wait for once a year admissions deadlines as you do with normal day or boarding schools. Determine what the problem is. Identify a school which can turn things around. Pay for it. Those are the broad steps you will take to get your child into a therapeutic school.

The Diagnosis
How do you know for sure if you should consider a therapeutic school for your child? Always consult  with your doctor  and other professionals to discuss the situation if your child has any of the following symptoms or issues:

 

  • Substance abuse
  • Violent or threatening behavior
  • Defies authority
  • Refuses to follow rules or take guidance
  • Poor grades

 


How do the programs work?
Each therapeutic school has its own treatment procedures and philosophy. But most concentrate on providing a highly-structured, isolated environment in which your child can learn new behaviors. The . . .read more
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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.