High School Issues

Learn more about high school academics, discipline policies and other issues relevant to private schools. Here we cover dress codes, explain the difference between AP and IB courses and discuss teen suicide. You’ll also find information on study abroad programs, codes of conduct and the best graduation gifts.
View the most popular articles in High School Issues:
Have you ever wondered...
 
Why a private school doesn't have to tell you why it refused your child admission?
 
Private schools do not have to accept applicants who do not meet their specific admissions criteria. Each private school has its own unique admissions criteria. Each school reviews its own applicant pool. Each school makes its own decisions completely independent of what any other school may decide. There is no appeal process once that decision is made. Neither does the school have to tell you why it made the decision it did. One way of 'reading the tea leaves' as it were is to hire an educational consultant. Her long experience with and knowledge of schools and their admissions process will generally be most helpful.
 

 
What happens if your kid gets caught breaking the rules?
 
This question is important. Unlike public schools where there is due process and something called student rights, private schools are governed by contract law. You and the school signed a contract covering the various terms and conditions of your child's stay at the school. While it may seem like a lot of fine print and legal language, it is there for a purpose: to protect the school. Read your contract carefully and understand that the school may discipline your child for breaking school rules. Depending on how serious the infraction is, the punishment could include expulsion. 
 

 
Most private schools have a student handbook which explains all the rules and their . . .read more
Graduates of private schools end up doing all sorts of things. Many of them become distinguished leaders in their chosen fields. Almost all of the alumnae and alumni selected below have also chosen to return time, talent and treasure to the schools which gave such a solid start to their careers. They serve on boards of trustees, raise money for their schools and act as stalwart supporters of these institutions.

That's really the point of this little piece: dream of being something when you are a young person. Attend a school which will help you realize those dreams by giving you the skills, the confidence and the belief that you can accomplish whatever you set out to do. That is the essence of a private school education.

But aren't all the people on this list fabulously rich? Indeed some are. But many were not quite so well off when they were just starting out. All of these graduates share one thing in common. They had families which valued the sound, balanced approach to education which the schools they attended afforded them.

Audrey McNiff, Goldman Sachs (retired),  Lawrence Academy, Groton, MA

Arthur Bunn, Bunn-O-Matic Corp., The Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, NJ

Betsy Licht Turner, Northern Trust Investments, The Madeira School, McLean, VA

Bill Gates, Microsoft, Lakeside School, Seattle, WA

Dan Barber, Restaurateur, The Dalton School, New York, NY

Douglas Druick, Chicago Art Institute, . . .read more
"Which colleges should I apply to, Mom?" That is a question which is going to be very much on your child's mind as she begins her junior year. Of course, you have been worrying about which college she should go to almost since she was a toddler. But now this important question is very much on her radar. Fortunately for both of you this is another instance where sending your child to private school will give her an advantage over most public high schools. Why? Because college counseling is not a function and job responsibility which private schools take lightly. Nor are private schools likely to cut staff in this area. Remember when you were choosing a private school for your child? You reviewed the colleges where various schools' graduates had been accepted and/or were attending. You remember thinking that the colleges listed for the graduates of the school where you decided to send your child were pretty much the kind of tertiary level institutions you had in mind for her anyway. 
 
This short video illustrates the private school counseling experience from a student's perspective.
 
 
There are several advantages a private school can offer over most public schools. For example, small class sizes and individual attention are givens. Sports programs and extracurricular activities also make the list. But what about college advising? In the first place getting a solid college preparation is probably one of the reasons you sent your child to private school. You read . . .read more
Joann McPike, the founder of THINK Global School, graciously answered some questions which I posed about the school. ~ Rob Kennedy

 

Explain why you took the reins rather than find some institution which you could guide and shape according to your ideals and goals?

 

 

My husband and I love to travel, we have always taken our son Alexander with us whenever we went anywhere. We took his school work with us. It was Alexander's never ending questions and comments that started showing us the benefit of travel to opening the minds of youngsters.

 

 

We started looking at boarding schools all over the world for when he had to go to high school and although there are some amazing schools out there, we couldn't find one that would provide the different points of view that we felt were necessary to have a truly open mind.

 

 

As to why I didn't find an institution that we could guide and shape... I assume you mean an existing school? I guess I thought it would be more difficult to try to convince a school board to do something so out of the ordinary than to start a school from scratch. Most people feel safe in the status quo, then there are a few risk takers who want to shake things up a little. I guess I am one of those people who want to shake things up a little... as are the courageous parents who took a leap of faith and sent their children get . . .read more
A private school handbook is essentially a set of guidelines for life in the school community. Most handbooks are comprehensive, very detailed documents which seek to cover every conceivable aspect of school life. They are generally rather lengthy documents too as you will see when you review the examples listed at the end of this article. Take time to review your school's handbook. Discuss and confirm that your child understands the seriousness of this document. While the school will explain the content of its handbook, assume nothing.

Handbooks outline guidelines. They are not contracts. When you send your child to private school,you sign a contract clearly spelling out your obligations and the school's obligations. That contract is a binding legal document. Unfortunately it is one of those documents with pages of fine print that you file carefully in a safe place. That's where the handbook comes in. The handbook covers the day to day rules, policies and procedures which you and your child must adhere to and abide by while part of the school community. The handbook usually explains the rules, policies and procedures in great detail. "I didn't know that!" will be an unacceptable reason for breaking the rules because every student is expected to read, know and apply the material contained in their school's handbook.

Many handbooks are online. Depending on the school, the access may be password protected and limited to current parents and other members of the school community. Many schools publish their . . .read more
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High School Issues

Academics

A comprehensive look at high school academics. We cover grades, AP and IB courses, and the post graduate year. Learn the secrets of A+ students. Explore summer abroad programs, read interviews with experts and get valuable tips on excelling academically.

Discipline

A brief look into high school discipline policies. From codes of conduct to uniforms and dress code, we'll provide information on the latest practices in private schools.

Other Issues

From graduation gifts to preventing teen suicide, this section provides information on a variety of topics affecting high school students. Learn what to do when your child is expelled, you need financial aid or you’re looking for a teaching job. Get expert advice on protecting your teen from substance abuse, finding the right high school and handling personal technology on campus.