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:
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 . . .read more
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 . . .read more
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. . . .read more
Many students find that a PG or Post Graduate year is a wonderful solution to several situations. Perhaps they feel that they are a little young to go off to college. A PG year offers time to grow and develop without taking a year off. Maybe they want to perfect a sport or artistic activity. A PG year offers a well-focussed span of time in which to accomplish that perfecting. A PG year also offers a chance to remediate any small gaps you might have in your high school transcript. Or maybe you just want a year before you head off for five years of pre-med or bio-kinetic science. The PG offers a great deal.
 

Admission Requirements
What kind of grades do you need? Pretty good ones! A's and B's are expected. In addition you will need to offer a sport or other exttracurricular activity. That will enable you to fit right into the life and community of your new school. After all, you will only be there for a year. Stellar recommendations from your current school will help.

Application Process
The application process is a little different. Instead of taking SSAT or ISEE, you offer PSAT or SAT test scores. Places for PG year are extremely limited. Be sure to apply as early as you can. Need financial aid? Expect that to be limited. Always ask up front.

 

When most people think of the IB or International Baccalaureate, they are thinking of the IB Diploma Programme. The International Baccalaureate Organization actually offers three programs: Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes.
 
The IB Diploma Programme is a two year course of study for high school students aged 16-19. It has its own curriculum quite distinct from the more universal AP coursework most prep schools offer. The Programme leads to external examinations, success in which gain a diploma which is widely recognized by universities and colleges worldwide.
 
What Is The Difference Between IB and AP?
Think of IB as a complete package. It is curriculum and course work taught to universal IB standards. The International Baccalaureate Organisation authorizes schools to offer its programmes. (You don't just hang out a sign saying you are an IB school!) The teachers have to undergo a thorough preparation for teaching the IB programmes. The coursework culminates in examinations set and scored by the IB organization.

 

Think of AP or Advanced Placement as an add-on to your school's course offerings. The difference is that at the end of an AP course students are examined in a national examination as opposed to a local examination.

 

 

What Do IB and AP Have In Common?
IB and AP are all about excellence and high standards. Any prep school which offers IB or AP is making a statement. They are investing enormous amounts of effort and resources into achieving the . . .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.