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.
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Updated May 26, 2016 |
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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Updated May 26, 2016 |
Choosing Schools: Look Beyond the Competitive Schools
Competitive schools are wonderful. But they are not the only game in town. Here's why.

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

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Updated May 26, 2016 |
Choosing Schools: The Safe School
The idea behind a safe school is that you know your child will get into at least one of the schools on your short list. Let's start by reviewing the steps in the process.
The idea behind a safe school is that you know your child will get into at least one of the schools on your short list. Let's start by reviewing the steps in the process.

1. Cast your net as widely as you want.

This is the fun part of the process. Look at anything and everything. No holds barred. If a school in Dallas appeals to you, put it on the list. If one in Lakeville, Connecticut floats your boat, add it to your list. You should end up with 15-20 schools on your first list. Be sure to visit each one virtually. Most schools will have videos so that you can get an idea of what the schools are like by watching the videos. This is not a substitute for visiting a school. It's merely the first pass.

2. Create a short list of schools.

This is where you have to determine which school or schools will be your safe school. What exactly is a safe school? It's a school to which you have an excellent chance of being admitted. It's a school which perhaps is not as competitive as some of the others on your list.

That is the challenge of the second step in this process. You must determine as accurately as possible which schools are genuine reaches or schools which you have a very small chance of getting in. Yes, anything is possible. But you don't need to be relying
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Updated March 14, 2016 |
Considering a Jewish Education
Should you send your child to a Jewish school? We explore the issue and suggest some talking points.

If you are a Jewish parent thinking about private school for your son or daughter, you will probably want to consider sending your child to a Jewish school. Of course, much depends on how observant a Jew you are or consider yourself to be. That will influence your decision in many ways, some subtle, some more obvious.

Many questions will surface at this point. Here are some which you should answer before proceeding with a more detailed search for the right school. As you think of other questions which need answering, add them to the list.

  • Why should your child attend a Jewish school?
  • When should your child attend a Jewish school?
  • How should your child be taught?
  • What should your child be taught?
  • Where should your child go to school?
  • Why should your child attend a Jewish school?

This question addresses perhaps the most important aspect of this discussion. Why, indeed, do you want your child to have a Jewish education? Only you as parents can decide why a Jewish education has value for you. Is your family tradition driving this decision? Are your religious beliefs that important to you and your family that a Jewish education for your children is simply the only option? You need to understand that any parent who sends his child to a religious school is making a strong statement about his faith and the importance which it holds in his life. It will set your child apart from his peers in a very secular world where religious values

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Updated May 26, 2016 |
If We Did Rank Schools...
Ranking private schools is almost impossible because it is so difficult to gather the data needed to compare statistics. If we did rank schools, this is how to do it.

So, let's assume that somehow we could rank private schools. After all, asking how a particular school is ranked is something most parents want to know. We are accustomed to comparing just about everything these days. We comparison shop constantly. We rank our favorite teams. We know which pop artist is on top of the charts. And so on. Comparing and ranking anything and everything is just the way we do things. By doing so we know that we are getting the best value possible.

That comparison shopping approach works fine for most things in our daily lives. Unfortunately it does not work when it comes to ranking private schools. Why? Because each private school is unique. The way it is run, where it is located, the courses it offers, the sports programs, the extracurricular activities, its philosophy and the results it gets are all unique. That doesn't mean we can't compare the various features of private schools. That is doable but it is a lot of work. As we have pointed out in Do Ranks Matter? it is extremely difficult and time-consuming for ordinary people to find the data and information we need to arrive at some sort of ranking system for private schools. But if we did rank private schools, here is how we would do it. Alexis offers some useful tips for the school selection process in the following video.

Visit the schools.

"Wait a minute!" you are thinking. What

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Choosing a Private School

FINDING SCHOOLS