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.
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Perhaps you are just starting to think about private high school for your middle schooler. Or perhaps you have started the process of choosing the right private school and have some questions about how to proceed. These five 'must haves' will hopefully help you focus on the things which are really important when it comes to choosing a private school.
 
1. The best fit
 
Always number one on my list is the fit. Fit trumps everything else simply because fit is all about how your child and the school mesh. If they are not in synch, the result will be an unhappy child. Keep this in mind as you visit schools on your short list. Your child will know instinctively whether or not she likes the school.
 
Now, having pointed out how important fit is, it makes good sense to engineer the visits so that she likes all the schools on your short list. How do you do that? You hire an educational consultant who will identify schools which will be a good fit. That's what an educational consultant does. Consultants take time to get to know you and your child. They know their schools too. As a result the list of schools which a consultant presents you will be on target. Any or all of the schools will potentially be a good fit. One will be the best fit. Visiting schools on a list of schools carefully selected with your needs and requirements in mind will be a pleasure because almost
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Actually there are many more things to know about private school than the four items I have chosen. But let's get you started with these. They are important. 
 
For most of us the idea of sending your child to private school begins with that nagging feeling that she's very bright and needs the very best kind of schooling possible. She needs an enriched academic curriculum. She needs time to explore subjects which interest her. She needs an athletics program  with lots of options. She wants to be on the stage. These wishes and desires on her part are not always easily fulfilled in a public school settings. As a result you start exploring your private school options. That leads you to individual private school web sites as well as resources like this site. And it also raises many questions. So the four points I am going to expand on below are really affirmations of what you probably already knew anyway.
 
Private schools are not ranked.
 
As you explore schools on the web, you quickly realize that there is no way to rank schools. It is perfectly normal to want to send your child to the best school possible. But how can you identify that school if there is no ranking system? First of all, let's deal with the reality of private schools and ranking. They cannot be ranked. Why? Because they are unique. We have approximately 400 boarding schools in the U.S. Each one is different. Not better. Not worse.
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It is a scenario which plays out more often than you might think. You have been looking at your child's high school with a certain amount of trepidation. The school is very large. The students get a relatively good education. But you have that persistent, nagging feeling that your child deserves more. Besides you both work. Frequent business travel has become a regular feature of your life. The bottom line is that you want your child to attend private school. But how are you going to convince her to go along with you? Let's look at some strategies and approaches which work.
 
Don't dictate what is going to happen.
 
The quickest way to turn your child against any idea, no matter how rationale and well-intentioned, is to dictate. Telling her that she will be going to private school will probably not get the result you want. Think about her feelins. She has friends. They may not be the friends you might prefer her to have, but they are friends nonetheless. Sending her to private school changes the balance of her comfortable little world. Remember that teens are particularly sensitive to change. Take her out of her comfort  zone and she will be most unhappy.
 
She must buy into the idea.
 
The minute she decides that going to private school is a great idea, you will be set. I realize that I sound like a manipulating adult, but that's pretty much what it takes to achieve your goal. Neither can you present the idea
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Use this simple mnemonic to help you organize your search for a private school for your child. 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 pre-schools. 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 easy but it can be done. You will feel much less stressed when you give yourself as much lead time as you can.
 
Identify
 
This is fun because all you have to do is look at web sites. Look at as many as you want to. If you prefer requesting DVD's and catalogs, that's fine. It won't slow you down too much. Tip: only request catalogs from schools which really interest you.
 
There are a large variety of options even for preschools. The options multiply considerably if
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It's rather bewildering perusing dozens and dozens of beguiling private school 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. Here's what's really important in choosing a private school.
 
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 will 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?
 
If college preparation is your goal, then focus on the quality of the academic curriculum. Look at the faculty. Do they have degrees in their subjects? Masters or doctorates? Is there breadth and depth in the course offerings? Do you require strong sciences? A rich array of languages and humanities? What about the
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