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:
Updated August 05, 2016 |
5 Signs You Are On The Right Track
It is easy to get side-tracked when you embark on a major project like searching for a private school for your child. Here are five indications that you are doing it correctly.

Here is another way of looking at the private school search process. This checklist highlights the main tasks in what is, for most of us, an eighteen to twenty-month long project. While circumstances will occasionally require you to do everything in a rush at the last minute, we will review progress from the point of view of the more customary time-frame. Work transfers or some other event requiring you to move to a new city never happen conveniently, do they? When you have to find a private school quickly, you will have to telescope the full-length search into a few months. That is doable, and I discuss how to handle that situation in Is It Too Late To Apply?  In the meantime, let's review the five signs that you are on the right track in your private school search process.

You have scanned dozens of private school websites.

In step one, you look at as many private school websites as possible. Start with the powerful search engine right here on Private School Review. We have over 27,000 schools in our database. As a result, you should be able to find plenty of material. The only filters which you might want to use at this early stage are the following:  kind of school, i.e., religious, military and special needs; and the grades offered. Before you start searching, determine the kind of school which you want for your child. If you are looking for

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Updated September 14, 2016 |
A Guide To Schools Within 10 Miles Of Philadelphia
Philadelphia is home to some of the oldest K-12 schools in the nation.

Philadelphia is home to some of the oldest K-12 schools in the nation. Located strategically on the east coast on the main transportation routes between New York City and Washington, DC, Philadelphia itself offers a wealth of commercial and cultural activities for families. And if the city doesn't have what you are looking for, Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland are just minutes away. The following school profiles spotlight private K-12 schools within 10 miles of Philadelphia. Of the 73 schools shown in the search results, I included schools which offer instruction up to Grade 12 and have a student population of over 200 in most cases.

Private schools within 10 miles of Philadelphia

International Christian High School, Philadelphia, PA 

Miles from Philadelphia: 6
Founded in 1968
Number of students: 123
Grades 9-12, day. Coeducational
Religious Affiliation: Christian
Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

The course catalog lists 5 AP courses. For complete details regarding curriculum, sports, extracurricular activities, costs, and other information, see the International Christian High School profile.  

The Haverford School, Haverford, PA 

Miles from Philadelphia: 8.6
Founded in 1884
Number of students: 981
Grades PK-12, day. Boys
Religious Affiliation: Non-sectarian
Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

For complete details regarding curriculum, sports, extracurricular activities, costs, and other information, see The Haverford School profile. 

Friends Select School, Philadelphia, PA 

Miles from Philadelphia: 0.3
Founded in 1689
Number of students: 971
Grades PK-12, day. Coeducational

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Updated July 03, 2016 |
A Guide to the Cleveland Council of Independent Schools
The Cleveland Council of Independent Schools is an organization which currently has thirteen member schools in the greater Cleveland area.

The Cleveland Council of Independent Schools currently has thirteen member schools in the Greater Cleveland metropolitan area. On the list below are schools which offer a variety of programs including college prep, Montessori, and special needs. The CCIS website is informative and useful.  It also has an employment section worth bookmarking if you are looking for a teaching or administrative position in one of their member schools.

Andrews Osborne Academy, Willoughby, OH

Founded in 1910
Number of students: 336
Grades PK-12, day. Grades 7-12, boarding. Coeducational
Religious Affiliation: Nonsectarian

Andrews Osborne Academy is situated on a 330 acre campus about 20 miles east of Cleveland just outside the charming suburban city of Willoughby. The school offers a 6:1 student-teacher ratio. The course catalog lists 104 academic courses and 11 AP courses. For complete details regarding curriculum, sports, extracurricular activities, costs, and other information, see the Andrews Osborne Academy profile. 

Birchwood School, Cleveland, OH

Founded in 1984
Number of students: 202
Grades PK-8, day.  Coeducational
Religious Affiliation: Nonsectarian

Birchwood School is located in Cleveland convenient to  I-90, I-480 and I-71. The school offers gifted education as well as a comprehensive series of signature programs such as Speech Fest and Woodmath.  For complete details regarding curriculum, sports, extracurricular activities, costs, and other information, see the Birchwood School profile.  

Gilmour Academy, Gates Mills, OH

Founded in 1946
Number of students: 653
Grades PK-12, day.  Coeducational
Religious Affiliation: Roman Catholic

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Updated June 02, 2016 |
The Search Process: A 5 Point Checklist
Use this five-point checklist to keep your search for private schools organized.

Use this five-point checklist to keep your search for private schools organized. If you ask your friends and family who have gone through the process of finding private schools for their children about their experiences, you will probably hear that the search is not difficult. On the other hand, it is time-consuming, has several deadlines, and can be demanding, particularly if you and your spouse have full-time careers. Before long somebody will create an app to help you keep your private school search in order. In the meantime use this simple checklist.

1. Look at schools.

"Cast your net as wide as you can." "Think outside the box." Sorry to bombard you with cliches, but they are the best suggestions which I can offer. Thinking outside the box is not always easy for us parents to do. We know our children so very well. That's a given. But some of us tend to be overly-protective, and we worry a lot. "She'll never do well in that school. Helen's son had a terrible time there." Force yourself to explore schools which you might not have put on your list, for one reason or another. As the following video illustrates, schools will put their best foot forward as they really want you to consider them, and, better yet, visit them.

This part of the school search process can be great fun. Why? Because most private schools have excellent websites. Private schools understand how important it is to

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Updated April 20, 2016 |
Let Me Ask You...
This fictional interview illustrates how one set of parents chose a private school for their daughter.

What follows is a fictional interview. I wrote it to illustrate why some parents chose a specific kind of high school education for their child. The account is fictional to the extent that the parents I am interviewing in this article do not exist per se. However, the scenarios, facts and questions about private schools are ones which I have dealt with countless times over the years. They are real. Hopefully, you will find the answers in this interview both helpful and useful. 

Helen, why did you consider sending your child to a boarding school?

My husband and I thought about sending our daughter to boarding school. Convincing her that boarding school would be the best option was a major challenge. However, with the help of our educational consultant and a couple of close friends whose children currently attend boarding school in Vermont, we were able to show her the incredible value a boarding school education offers. 

What clinched the deal was the vast array of extracurricular activities which the schools we visited offered. We live in a very affluent area of Connecticut. The public schools are highly rated. But honestly, they offered fewer extracurricular activities than most of the boarding schools we reviewed. Our daughter is an avid swimmer and field hockey enthusiast. The athletic facilities and grounds at most of the schools we visited were superb. They contained state of the art equipment with professional athletic staff supervising their programs. That was very reassuring to us.

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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.