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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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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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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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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Don't Just Look at Price!
Identifying schools which fit your requirements includes dealing with paying for that education. But don't just look at price.
It's certainly fun to navigate different private school sites and see what's out there.  And you must do that, not only on your own, but with your child. For all sorts of good reasons. Remember: your child needs to buy into this important decision. It mustn't be a unilateral decision unless the circumstances are exceptional such as your requiring a school for special needs or a therapeutic school. In those situations, obviously you know best and will make the appropriate decision for your child.
 
There's another consideration we parents need to review carefully as we decide which private school is the best one for our children. And that's the cost.
 
But don't just look at the price! Why? Because there are several factors in play when it comes to paying for a private school education.
 
1. Financial Aid
 
Depending on your financial situation the school may offer you a financial aid package. This could well have the effect of making that school which charges $25,000 a year as affordable, for example, as the school which charges $18,000 but offers no financial aid. So, ask questions and get the answers you need about financial aid. Financial aid programs vary from school to school. Assume nothing. Ask.
 
2. Tuition Free Education
 
The other factor to consider is that you may be able to get a tuition free education at several schools. Exeter and Andover, as well as several other top schools, offer free educations if family income falls below certain thresholds. $75,000 is the figure
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What is Really Important in Choosing a School?
What is really important in choosing a private school? Ranks? Academics? Financial aid? Sports programs? Arts programs? One of these criteria doesn't matter. The others do.

As you begin exploring schools for your child, you begin to realize that you have dozens of options. And they are all a little different. It's rather bewildering looking at all these web sites especially if you have never visited a private school before. They are all so different. How can you ever decide which one is best for your daughter? Start with a very basic strategy, a game plan if you will. Let's look at what really matters when it comes to choosing a private school for your child.
 
Your requirements
 
Start with your requirements. Your requirements trump everything. So have a family discussion. Be relaxed and open-minded because your requirements as a parent are going to be different from your daughter's. You are thinking the best educational experience. She's thinking about her life and her friends and the reality that she will have a whole new situation to deal with. That's scary for a young person. But you can make it an adventure and get her to buy into going to private school if you are patient, informative and, above all, a listener. Dictating to your child will probably get you nowhere in a hurry. 

So, what's really important? Ponder these questions and then develop some answers after having that family discussion.

Are you looking for a traditional college prep school experience or something else?

Is your religion a major determining factor?

What about sports? Arts programs? Extracurricular activities?
 
If college preparation is your goal, think

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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.