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:
Codes of Conduct
Discipline in private schools generally begins with a code of conduct.
Discipline in private schools generally begins with a code of conduct. This is a document which is read and signed by parents and students at the time of admission to the school. It is part of the contract between student, parents and the school. Since you have already agreed to the school's code of conduct beforehand, when you commit an infraction of the code, you will be disciplined accordingly.

Gone are the days when discipline meant a couple of licks with a leather strap or a paddling on your buttocks. Corporal punishment is simply unacceptable in 21st century America. Indeed it is illegal in twenty-six states. Discipline is something which is defined by and meted out according to the contract between you and the school.

The important concept to understand is that as a student in a private school you are governed by contract law, not constitutional law. In other words, you do not have the same rights as a public school student. If you violate the terms of your contract, you will be dealt with accordingly.

Many schools have 'zero tolerance' policies when it comes to capital offences involving substance abuse, cheating, stealing and sex. You need to take your school's code of conduct seriously and abide by it or face the consequences. These consequences could be as serious and final as expulsion from the school.

School Year Abroad
Several private schools offer a whole academic year abroad. Still others offer a summer abroad.
Several private schools offer a whole academic year abroad. Still others offer a summer abroad. These are enrichment programs designed to expose students who participate in them to the culture and customs of the host country. Promoting global understanding is an underlying aim of all these 'abroad' programs.

School Year Abroad

The School Year Abroad program was started by Phillips Academy in 1964. It is now operated by a consortium of about 30 schools located across the nation. Basically SYA offers approximately 60 students in their junior or senior year the opportunity to spend an academic year abroad in China, France, Italy, Spain or India. Students stay with host families. They are able to maintain their academic standing with their home school while at the same time experiencing all that a year living abroad offers.

Summer Abroad
Several schools offer summer programs which take place in foreign countries. Here are two examples of the sort of thing being offered:

"Woodberry in Mexico brings students to Morelia, where they take a variety of classes in nontraditional subjects such as guitar, drums, pre-Hispanic Michoacan, human zoology, and Mexican cuisine. They also have opportunities to experience parts of Mexico few Americans see. Possibilities include tours of artisans’ workshops, a professional soccer match, an excursion to colonial towns, and an orphanage visit. In Ixtapa, students experience an “all-inclusive” resort along the beautiful Mexican coastline. Puebla and Oaxaca offer important archeological sites that teach much about indigenous cultures." ...Mexico Immersion Program (One of four summer...
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You have questions about private schools. We have answers.
Professor Photo by Laura Glover
I just discovered that my parents can't afford this year's tuition. What should I do?
 
You and your parents need to meet with the financial office immediately and work something out. If your marks are really good and you are one of the school's top athletes, anything is possible. Don't delay.
 
Why is my school blocking access to RateMyTeachers.com?
 
Probably because the school administration thinks RateMyTeachers.com is a waste of time. But who cares. You can always log on at home and rate your teachers on your own time.

Is it true that private schools are only for rich kids?
 
No. They used to be years ago. But that's changed. Most schools welcome students no matter what their financial circumstances, as long as they can meet the admissions requirements. Student bodies have become quite diverse.
 
What are my chances of getting into a prep school for Grade 12? It's March and I am thinking about going this fall?
 
Good luck. It's awfully late in the year to be 'thinking' about getting into a grade 12 or senior year in any prep school anywhere. But you never know. If you have really good grades and some great references, you might stand a chance. It won't hurt to hire an educational consultant to expedite the process.
 
I just got caught smoking pot in my dorm room. Will I be expelled?
 
Most likely you will be expelled. Most schools have pretty tough
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Graduation is always a warm, happy occasion. Mark this important milestone with a memorable gift. Here are some suggestions.
Your child has worked very hard at private school. She has covered herself in academic glory, won many honors in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities and is ready for the next step: college. Graduation is always a warm, happy occasion as family gathers to bathe in all that reflected glory. Mark this important milestone with a memorable gift. Here are some suggestions with every budget in mind.

A Biking Trip
He'll be back at school studying hard soon enough. So why not treat him (or her) to a biking trip? There are several companies which organize these action-packed trips. Check out Teen Treks and Overland, for example.

A Scooter
A scooter is sustainable transportation especially if she will be going to college in an urban area without much public transporation. The Honda Metropolitan, for example, reminds me of the classic Vespa (only less expensive). It's easy to operate and light on the pocketbook.

A Watch
There are hundreds of makers and thousands of models of watches to choose from as you well know.  In every price range too. From Michele to Casio.

A Pen
The bespoke shops call them writing instruments. Whatever you call them, a fine pen is a gift to be cherished. Mont Blanc and Cross have a variety of models from which to choose.

Make your gift memorable or a keepsake or both. Best wishes to you and your family at this happy time.

Uniforms and Dress Codes
School uniforms are largely found at religious, parochial and military schools. Dress codes have replaced uniforms at most schools.
More and more private schools are adopting dress codes as opposed to uniforms. You will still find uniforms in religious, parochial and military schools. Perhaps the most famous school uniform is the one worn by boys at Eton College. While it is still worn everyday, the uniforms worn in American schools are a lot less formal, if, indeed, a uniform is worn at all.

One of the reasons a dress code is more popular is that it gives some modicum of self-expression while at the same time maintaining a standard of dress. Oversize clothing, all black outfits, extreme hair styles and other symbols of gangs and fringe activities are simply not on.

This dress code from Foxcroft School is typical of the sort of dress code you can expect at a girls' school:

"Foxcroft's dress code is fairly simple – khaki or black pants or skirts with solid-colored, collared blouses which are tucked in. Shoes (which may not be athletic shoes) must have closed toes and backs. Dress code is required during the Academic Day."
 
McCallie School offers a quite detailed description of what's acceptable and what's not at that fine all-boys school in a Dress Code Letter:
 
"Regular school dress requirements/prohibitions are as follows:
1. Students are expected to wear a solid colored dress shirt with tie (tie should be within one inch of top button on shirt), long pants with a belt, visible socks, and shoes.
2. Students should tuck shirts in...
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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.