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:
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Do You Know....?
If you know the answers to all these questions, you probably teach or work in a private school. Be that as it may, these questions contain links with the answers.
Do you know....? If you know the answers to all these questions, you probably teach or work in a private school. Be that as it may, these questions contain links with the answers. Test your knowledge. Dispel some urban legends about private schools. Do you know....?
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When Should You Consider a Special Needs School?
Dealing with the reality that your child has a learning difference can be a defining moment for many parents. So much is at stake. Special needs schools offer programs and highly trained faculty.
Is your child struggling in school? Do you not understand why she is not doing well in school? Does she hate going to school instead of going eagerly each day?
 
At the first sign that their child has a learning disability, many parents go into a state of denial. That will not help the child. The first thing any concerned parent should do is have the child evaluated professionally. You must identify your child's strengths and weakness and proceed accordingly. Only professional learning specialists, pediatricians and psychologists are equipped to do these sorts of evaluations. Based on an evaluation you can explore the many options available to you and your child.

Helping children with learning differences become life-long learners is the mission of the 21st century special needs school. Generations ago these children were left to fend for themselves. Because learning was such a difficult, frustrating experience, many children with learning differemces simply gave up and dropped out of school. But the 21st century special needs schools have highly trained, well-qualified and experieced teachers who have committed themselves to teaching students with a wide variety of learning differences.
  
The Definition Of A Learning Difference
 
What exactly constitutes a learning difference? The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),  a federal law, defines it as follows:

The child does not achieve adequately for the child’s age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas, when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for
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5 Questions Your Consultant Can Ask and You Can't
Use an educational consultant to ask those tough questions you are not comfortable asking.

We parents are in a rather difficult position when it comes to finding out information about private schools. Because they are private schools, they are not subject to the usual sunshine or freedom of information laws. They are just like a privately-held company. They are under no legal obligation to tell you or the general public anything. You need to know exactly what is lurking behind those gorgeous web photos and enthusiastic classroom shots. You need to know the condition of the school from reliable sources. That's where hiring an educational consultant comes in. These professionals know their schools from the arts curriculum to the vintage of the Zamboni machine used on the hockey rink. This is information which you need in order to permit you to make the informed decisions you need to make about finding the right private school for your child.
 
One caveat, and it is a major one: there are educational consultants who claim to be able to get you into a school. Be careful. The sign of the genuine article is an educational consultant who will offer to help you find the best match for you and your child's requirements. Just be aware.

The following questions are ones you might want to ask but probably feel uncomfortable asking. That's why it's a good thing to  hire an educational consultant. She can ask such questions with relative impunity. Plus she will think of dozens of other questions and raise many other issues about

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Choosing a Prep School
Here's a recap of the steps you need to follow to find the right school for your child. Work through the process in sequence from beginning to end.
If you are following our timeline for choosing a private school, you will notice that this process starts almost two years before the fall in which you want your child to start school. The process begins in a leisurely fashion as you gather your thoughts and think about schools. The intensity builds in the final six months before the January admissions deadline most schools seem to have.
 
Here's a recap of the steps you need to follow to find the right school for your child. Work through the process in sequence from beginning to end.
 
 
Is private school right for your child? Learn about the things you should consider and the unique benefits of a private school education. Once you are convinced of  the value of a private school education, then you must determine which private school is going to be best for your requirements.
 
 
It depends on your requirements. But in the end only one thing matters most anyway: the fit. When you get the fit right, you will have a happy child.
 
 
Many parents agonize over sending their child to boarding school or keeping them at home and sending them to day school. There are benefits to both kinds of schools. This is an important choice to make.
 
 
You ought to consider a single sex school as opposed to a traditional coeducational school. Why? Because
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Sports Programs
Sports are important in private schools. But they are also balanced properly by the emphasis on solid academics.
One of the components of a quality private school education is sports. A great many private schools offer athletic programs which rival many colleges and universities. Lest you get the wrong idea, academics are paramount in a private school experience. But private schools truly do adhere to the ancient motto mens sana in corpore sano - a healthy mind in a healthy body. Consequently even the most unathletic students in any private school community are required to do some kind of sports on a regular basis. Many boarding schools have a half day on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The afternoons are given over to athletics.
 
The intramural and varsity sports attract enthusiastic squads and are very competitive. They practice and compete in fine facilities. Check out the athletic programs at Hotchkiss, Kent, Miss Porter's and Lawrenceville to name but a few examples. Several schools such as Woodberry Forest and Northfield Mount Hermon have their own golf courses. Equestrian facilities are a feature of a dozen or so schools. Crew or shell rowing is also popular in many private schools. Northern schools such as Shattuck-St. Mary's and Avon Old Farms also offer solid hockey programs.

If you have questions about a school's athletic program, be sure to contact the athletic director. The blend of academic and athletic excellence possible in a private school setting will please you. Your son or daughter will be able to
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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.