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:
The question and answer on the Bay Area Private Schools site says it all:

Q. Is there ranking on California private schools?

A. There is no ranking on private elementary schools. Since the key to a rewarding private school education is finding a good match for your child's specific needs, parents should not make their decision solely based on test scores and reputation.

So, the answer to every parent's question "Which is the best school for my child?" is a very ambiguous attorney's answer: "It depends!"  What does it depend on?

It depends on your requirements.
You and your child will have different requirements, of course. You will be looking at test scores of a school's graduates, the colleges to which they matriculate, the quality of the faculty, how competitive the admissions are, and so on. Typical adult benchmarks.

She's more concerned with what kind of kids go to the school, what her social life will be like, whether she can bring her horse to school, how much homework there is and how difficult the work is. Typical teenage concerns.

What you must do to determine the best school for your child is to examine and discuss all the things which matter to you both. This is not a discussion which can take place while stopped at a traffic light after field hockey practice. Set aside some quality time in a neutral location - a quiet booth in a diner will do just . . .read more
What is technology like in private schools? In most private schools teachers and students have been using computers since the mid 1990's. Tablet PC's are the norm. Wireless networking and electronic presentation devices such whiteboards, LCD displays and projectors are all part of the private school teacher's bag of tricks. In the old days technology was a curious if fascinating add-on. You went to a computer lab and taught keyboarding or used programs such as MathBlaster. In the 21st century technology supports and enhances all aspects of the curriculum and teaching. Everybody has their own portable computer with the flexibility and efficiency such mobility encourages.

Most schools now subscribe to Internet 2 as well as the commercial internet. They also use email and VOIP phones internally for seamless integration of data and voice messaging.

While Macs are popular in many schools, most private schools use PCs in line with the common practice in the business world.

Technology staffs are now fulltime professionals. Their duties are divided between traditional line and support functions and academic technology responsibilities. Showing teachers how to use technology in the classroom is just as important as troubleshooting somebody's malfunctioning PC.

Web 2.0 tools can be found throughout private schools. Blogs, Skype, RSS feeds, social networking sites and wikis flourish. Many schools encourage parents to follow their child's progress through the use of Web portals and messaging. Parents can monitor academic progress in realtime rather than just . . .read more
Private schools learned a long time ago that small is good. Most prep schools have a student population of about 300-400 students. You will find larger and smaller schools, of course. Exeter is an example of a very large prep school. With a population of 1100 students and commensurate numbers of faculty and staff, Exeter is a large institution.

By contrast South Kent School is an example of a small school with 150 students. What do Exeter and South Kent have in common? A low student to faculty ratio. Typically private schools have student-faculty ratios in a range of 10:1. This is the genius of private schools. This is what you are really paying for when you send your child to private school: the personal attention to her learning needs.

Low student to faculty ratio is another way of saying that the class sizes are small. That is a good thing. You see, in a small school your daughter cannot escape and hide from view like she can in a large public school with large class sizes. When she sits around a Harkness table with fourteen other students and the teacher in the middle, there's no hiding anything.

As a result of small classes, teachers are able to dig deeply into the material. They are able to explore the sidebars and cement the fundamentals in place. (Parenthetically, it is a very satisfying feeling to be able to truly teach as one . . .read more
Sooner or later you ought to consider a single sex school as opposed to a traditional coeducational school. Why? For several reasons. First of all, coeducational schools have only become 'traditional' or commonly accepted in the last several decades. Private education has its roots in single sex education, both in this country and in England.
 
Indeed, if you look at the history of most of the legendary prep schools in America, you are likely to find that they began as a single sex institutions. For example, Phillips Academy Exeter began as a boys' school. It only began admitting girls in its summer sessions in 1961 which was fifteen years after it dropped the two year Latin requirement - horrible dictu! It would be another nine years before Exeter admitted girls in its regular sessions.
 
So, what's really happening here? American private schools like Exeter have always pretty much mirrored the society which they seek to serve. Back in the late 1700's and early 1800's when many of these schools got their start, educating girls was not considered as important as educating boys. Those views changed over the centuries as the young republic grew and matured. So did views about education. In the 1960's and '70's single sex schools gradually fell out of fashion. In order to survive, some boys' and girls' schools merged to form coeducational schools. Others, like Exeter, saw the handwriting on the wall and moved with the times by admitting girls.
 
In the 21st century the pendulum . . .read more
A private school education is not cheap. So why do parents willingly pay $30,000, $40,000 or more for something which public education provides free? Here are five reasons why you would do so.


1. Public education is not free.
You and I pay for public schools directly and indirectly through our property and other taxes. Attend a budget hearing for your local school district. Examine the financial statements. Then you will understand how and where your tax dollars are spent. Private education is an investment in your child's future. You educate your child privately because you want something better for your child.

 

2. Compare the teaching.

 

Public school teachers may be highly qualified, but they have to spend inordinate amounts of time on non-teaching responsibilities such as discipline. Much of their teaching time is spent teaching to the test.
 
Private school teachers are also highly qualified. They teach, coach a club or activity and, at boarding schools, act as dorm masters. Discipline is virtually a non-issue. They are able to teach at a high level and in great depth.
 

3. Public school class sizes are larger.
Students who want to stay on the fringe can do so in a public school. The large, impersonal nature of most American high schools allows anonymity to flourish.
You can't hide in a class of 12 students in a private school. Low student to teacher ratio is one of the reasons why a private education is so expensive.


4. Curricula are mandated by the state education . . .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.