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.
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
Approximately twenty private schools are very competitive as far as admissions are concerned. Think of these schools as you think of the Ivy League colleges, if you will. Everybody wants to go to these highly competitive private schools, just like everybody supposedly wants to go to Harvard or Princeton. Now, let's be very clear about something: these are great schools. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that these schools receive many more applications than they have places for. The young men and women who do get into these top private schools are very talented, academically gifted, and so on. Should you be upset if your son or daughter doesn't get into one of these schools? Not at all, and here's why.
Fit trumps selectiveness.
The right school for your child is the one which suits your needs and his needs best. Fit trumps just about every other consideration. How do you get the fit right? You do that by actually visiting the school. It is always a good idea to visit schools while classes are in session. If at all possible, arrange an overnight when your child is considering a boarding school. Then your child can truly sample what the school offers, as this short video ofrom Proctor Academy illustrates.
Now I can hear you thinking to yourself that the videos and the Skype chats which you had with the admissions office were so wonderful that the school has to be perfect for your child. There's no pressing
Most of us parents are fairly adept at tackling the various projects which life seems to put in front of us. Whether finding an apartment or purchasing a home or dealing with medical issues or writing a will, we all do our research, sift through the various options and make our choice. That's a pretty standard modus operandi, right? Well, obviously I have simplified things a bit because I left out the consultation we all had with experts in just about every case. The doctors explained the choices we had for the medical issues and prescribed a course of treatment. Our trusted attorney reviewed the lease agreements and purchase agreements for our real estate transactions so that we didn't run into problems in the months and years ahead. We just used those experts as a matter of course. This video is a bit dramatic but it makes my point: you need expert help choosing a private school just as you need expert help for other major decisions.
But we don't need any experts to help us choose the right private school for our child, do we? We can do all this ourselves, right? Wrong! I know because we thought we could choose the right school for our very talented eldest daughter who had the perfect academic transcripts, the sports and the extracurricular activities. This would be a cake walk. Just visit a couple of schools, apply and that was all there was to it. Our mistake. . .read more