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 May 26, 2016 |
Are You Doing It All Wrong?
Choosing a school is a project. A major project. You need to execute this project to the very best of your ability.
Have you ever begun a project only to realize after a while that you really didn't know what you were doing? It's kind of like the guy who opens the box with 100 parts. Some assembly required. Does he read the directions? Probably only when he gets stuck.
 
When you set out to choose a private school for your child, you need a clear road-map for the process. You also need to understand that this is a major project which will consume a substantial amount of your valuable time.
 
How much time will it take?
 
* Researching schools online: 20-30 hours spread out over 4-6 weeks. This task can be done in the comfort of your own home on your own time.
 
* Visiting out of town schools: 36-60 hours spread out over 3 or 4 visits. The amount of time consumed by travel is the wild card here. The actual campus visit will usually include an interview with the admissions staff. Allow about an hour for testing. 
 
* Visiting local schools: 10-15 hours spread out over 2 or 3 visits. Interviews and any testing which the schools require will add an hour or two.
 
Signs that you may be doing it wrong
 
As you can see choosing a private school is a project. A major project. Get it wrong and you will have a very unhappy child who hates her school. It's also possible that your child won't even get into a school. So, before you get that sinking feeling that you are doing it
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Updated March 07, 2016 |
About Boys' Schools:  In Their Words
Here are a dozen or so boys' schools' public thoughts about themselves and their missions.
The pendulum has swung once more. This time in favor of the advantages of single sex education. New research quantifies what many of us have known anecdotally, namely that single sex education works. Here are a dozen or so boys' schools' public thoughts about themselves and their missions.
 
From Avon Old Farms, Avon, Connecticut

"As a boys' boarding school, our programs are designed specifically to help young men focus on their development at a time in life when distractions abound. Although numerous opportunities exist for our students to interact with girls from Miss Porter's, Ethel Walker's and other nearby schools, boys are free to live and learn in our structured, supportive environment. In an all-boys context, our students embrace scholastic challenges and compete in the athletic arena while feeling safe exploring the arts, experimenting with poetry, expressing school spirit, and just being themselves."

 

Avon Old Farms offers grades 9-12 as well as a Postgraduate year. The school serves approximately 500 young men.

From Marquette University High School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
 

"MUHS has evolved with each passing decade to meet the changing needs of the young men in our community and like our 17th Century namesake, Father Jacques Marquette, students, faculty and staff members share a passion for exploring uncharted territory, whether it’s in a textbook or their own hearts."
 
Marquette University High Schools offers grades 9-12. The school serves approximately 1050 young men.
 
From Bellarmine College Preparatory, San Jose, California
 

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Updated March 03, 2015 |
About Girls' Schools: In Their Words
Here are a dozen or so girls' schools' public thoughts about themselves and their missions.
 I thought it might be instructive to gather a dozen or so girls' schools' public thoughts about themselves and their missions. The words which I have quoted can be found on each school's web site. Hopefully if you are thinking about sending your daughter to an all girls' school, you will be inspired to explore the opportunities available to you in these fine educational environments committed to educating your daughters to be all they can be.
 
From Nightingale-Bamford School, New York, New York
"Founded by two bold, visionary entrepreneurs in the same year that women won the right to vote, the Nightingale-Bamford School has helped generations of girls to become strong, independent, confident women. We offer a rigorous, college-preparatory education from Kindergarten through grade 12 in a caring and attentive school community."

"Over the 90 years since our school was founded, we have graduated almost 3,000 alumnae, expanded our building four times, and adopted new disciplines and means of teaching. But throughout it all, we've retained the same guiding principles that Miss Nightingale and Miss Bamford instilled in those first students: truth, friendship, and loyalty."

The Nightingale-Bamford School offers grades K-12. The school serves approximately 570 young ladies.
 
From Saint Mary's School, Raleigh, North Carolina
"Saint Mary’s School has developed curriculum and employed strategies that capitalize on the strengths of girls on their journey to college and life. Girls’ schools support a culture, climate and community that
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Updated May 25, 2016 |
Your Child Isn't Happy at His Preschool?
What do you do when you realize that your child is unhappy at his preschool?
Despite your best efforts, in depth interviews and hours of due diligence you begin to realize that the school which you thought was so perfect for your preschooler is in fact the wrong one. So, what do you do when things don't work out?
 
I have just been through this stressful situation with one of my grandchildren. (I won't mention which school or name names out of professional courtesy.) It was a gut-wrenching experience for my daughter and son-in-law just as it would be for any set of concerned parents.
 
The warning signs
 
The warning signs of a bad fit are simple to detect: your child is unhappy. She comes home from school in tears or frustrated or both. She doesn't look forward to going to school in the morning. The last thing any parent wants is a four year old who doesn't want to go to school.
 
Red flags by rvw, on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  rvw 
 
You won't necessarily notice that something is wrong. There probably won't be a big blow up at school.  What's more likely to happen is a series of little events over a period of several weeks, perhaps even months. An isolated incident of unhappiness is nothing to be worried about. A trend of daily
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Updated February 07, 2017 |
When Should You Consider a Military School?
If you are looking for a college preparatory education with a military emphasis, then take a look at military schools.
One of the best things about private schools is that there is a school out there somewhere which is just right for your educational objectives, whatever those might be. As you begin to draw a picture of the kind of school which you would like your child to attend, you just might discover that the structured environment and leadership training for which military schools are well-known is just what you are looking for.

So, what about military schools? When might you consider sending your son or daughter to a military school? Let’s settle a couple of things before we proceed: military schools are not places you send a child with discipline or other issues. They are not reform schools or schools for troubled youth. (If a professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist recommends that your child attend a therapeutic school, you will have plenty of options for that purpose.)Military schools are genuine institutions of learning with a specific focus: military training. Secondly, military service is not required when you attend a military high school. If your child decides that military service is a career path which she wants to pursue, then a military school will have given her a good start.

Take a few minutes to see what a day in the life of a cadet at Hargrave Military Academy is like.
 

If the following are things you are looking for in a private school, maybe a military school is right for
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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.