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 December 07, 2015 |
IDEA
Use this simple mnemonic to help you organize your search for a private school for your child.

We all have so many things on our mind and so much to do every day. So when it comes to undertaking a major project such as finding the right private school for your child, anything which will help you zero in on what needs to be done is helpful. I have always found mnemonics useful. With that in mind you can use this simple mnemonic to help you organize your search for a private school for your child. In this short clip Jennifer Schroeder shares her experiences on choosing a private school.

From start to finish you will probably invest up to 125 hours in this process if you are looking at boarding schools. About 50 hours if you are looking at day schools. Perhaps 25 hours if you are investigating primary and preschools. It's a lot of work with a lot of deadlines to fit into your busy schedule. But if you will scope out the various tasks you have to do and work through them step by step, you will get through it.

The most important caution which I or any private school consultant will give you is a very simple one: start the process as far in advance as you possibly can. At least 18 months before the fall of the year you plan your child to attend her new school. If you are forced to find a school at the last minute, it can be done. Not

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Updated December 08, 2015 |
Before You Spend $30k on Private School...
Before you spend $30,000 or more on a year at private school for your child, you need to ask five questions and be guided by the answers you receive.

As I have often said on these pages, finding the right private school for your child is a process, and a daunting process at that. There are a great many factors to consider. So, before you spend $30,000 or more on a year at private school for your child, you need to ask five questions and be guided by the answers you receive:

1.  Does it get the results you want?
2.  Does what the school teaches jibe with your requirements?
3.  Will your child be happy there?
4.  Is the school financially stable?
5.  How will you pay for it?

There is a bit more to the process, of course, but asking these five questions will get you started on the extensive due diligence which you must do before you spend approximately $150,000 for four years of private day school or approximately $200,000 for four years of boarding school. Tuition varies from school to school. Some are much less. Some a great deal more. Also we are only discussing high school and middle school. The primary grades will run you $8,000 - $15,000 depending on the school.

Another point to consider is that private schools in the United States are not subsidized by government funding. So they will charge whatever the market forces and their budgets determine can be charged and needs to be charged. Having said that, be aware that most private schools offer generous financial aid program. Some schools will even pay for everything as long as

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Updated December 31, 2015 |
What Do Schools Say About Ranking?
Ranks really don't matter. I have said that for years. But let's see what private schools have to say about the matter.

Over the years I have steadfastly maintained that ranks are not important when it comes to choosing the right school for your child. My viewpoint, however, runs counter to what most parents hear and see in the popular media which loves to crow about this top school or that elite school in video clips which usually have more to do with a scandal or tragedy of some sort than they do with the mission of the school and its academics. Amid all the sensationalism comes the subliminal message that 'this is a great school". Then there are various sites which purport to rank private K-12 schools.

Where ranking private K-12 schools comes unglued is the fact that each private school is unique. They are all different. They each approach their educational missions from their own unique perspectives. Yes, in a general sense they have a common mission which is to educate your child. However, because each school has its own approach, its own facilities and programs, they cannot be compared apples to apples. I used to be a real estate broker back in the 80s. I often fall back on that experience of finding the right house for my clients when it comes to advising parents on the right school for their children. The analogy is apt. For example, the couple who want a 3 bedroom house on 3 acres of land will find dozens of listings for them to look at. Are they all the

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Updated January 11, 2016 |
5 Reasons Why You Might Change Schools
Here are five reasons why you might want to change schools.

The scenario which we are going to discuss is not as uncommon as you might think. After all you have spent a considerable amount of time researching and visiting schools in a serious effort to find the school with the best fit. But a few months after school has begun you realize that something isn't right. Your child is miserable. Well, that's just one of the several reasons why you might want to change schools. Let's look at some other reasons.

1. Your child has been expelled.

Ouch! We will discuss this unfortunate reason for finding a new school first. This reason for changing schools is rather like being fired. It is enormously dispiriting and in many ways a life-changing experience just like losing your job is. Continuing that analogy, finding a new school for a child who has been expelled is almost as difficult as finding a new job is. The following video describes what happens when your child is expelled from public school. Private school expulsions are covered by the contract which you and the school signed.The net result is the same and is a very serious situation.

You can expect to have lots of questions asked. So, have your answers well thought out. Do not equivocate. Try not to put too positive a spin on the situation. An admissions staffer will see right through that. Answer the questions truthfully. The school will want to know if your child has learned

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Updated January 08, 2016 |
5 Questions You Need To Ask
As you begin to evaluate schools, keep these five basic questions in mind.
While you are in the early stages of identifying private high schools for your child, you will read plenty of catalogs and scan dozens of school web sites. You will uncover a lot of information. Just be aware that all of this is the information which the schools want you to see. These are marketing tools which present the best side to the schools and their programs. While there is certainly nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, the reality is that you need to lift the hood and see what's inside. Find answers to the following five basic questions as part of your due diligence as you sort through schools and begin to determine which one is the best fit for your child.

Get the answers to your questions two ways: by reading the materials offered and by asking in person. Incidentally, if you have decided to use the services of an educational consultant, these are questions which she can answer for you. Then all you have to do is follow up when you visit the schools and affirm what you already know.

1. What are they teaching?

For most parents this is the first question on the list. It is our priority #1. It plays to our concern about what kind of college or university our child will ultimately attend. Preparing for that next step is a huge undertaking and we know that we have to get it right. Preparing for college level
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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.