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 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 June 09, 2016 |
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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Updated June 14, 2016 |
Single Sex Education at a Glance
Think of single sex education as another option as you consider which school is the right one for your child.
When you think of single sex education as a choice or an option when you are thinking about sending your child to private school, the subject becomes a little easier to understand in the 21st century. Historically private schools have offered single sex education for decades. Indeed many of our older K-12 schools were founded with the purpose of educating boys or girls separately. That's the way things were done back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Colleges and universities were also set up as single sex institutions. For example, Harvard University was an all-male university until 1977 when its sister college, Radcliffe, merged with it.
 
Characteristics of single sex schools
 
How do we define a single-sex school? By definition a single sex school is a school which educates boys or girls exclusively. As a general rule classes will not be co-educational. On occasion neighboring boys and girls schools which have an established relationship will host co-educational classes. 
 
What grades do single sex schools offer? Typically single sex schools are high schools offering grades 9 through 12 and a Post Graduate year where available. A handful of single sex schools offer the middle school grades 6 through 9. Even fewer schools offer PK-12. You will also notice that middle school grades go up to grade 9 and high school begins with grade 9 as well. Actually grade 10 is probably the most common entry point for private high schools. That’s one reason for the overlap of the grades. 

In the following video
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Updated May 25, 2016 |
Traditional vs Non-traditional Schools
Early on in the process of choosing a private school for your child you need to decide whether to send her to a traditional or non-traditional school.
Thinking about sending your child off to private school? Then you will need to decide which educational philosophy and approach works best for you. What it really comes down to is whether you want to send your child to a school that uses a traditional approach to teaching or one that uses a non-traditional approach.
 
In the public school world a traditional school is a regular public school and a non-traditional school is a charter school. That's not what I am discussing here with respect to private schools. The concept of a private school as an independent largely self-financing corporate entity does not change. You and I are going to focus on what is taught in the classroom and how it is taught.
 
The early years
 
Your child's age is a major factor when it comes to choosing an educational approach. For example, if you send him to a Montessori school as a toddler, you are exposing him to a non-traditional approach to education. It is an excellent approach and highly regarded. But non-traditional nonetheless. Start your child off in a Montessori, Waldorf or Reggio Emilia school and you will lay solid foundations for learning in later life. But visit a traditional private primary school and you will see a quite different approach to early education.
 

This short video compares and contrasts a progressive primary education with a traditional primary education.

Obvious differences will be the dress code. Uniforms are required at many traditional religious schools. The curricula follow
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Recent Articles
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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.