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.
View the most popular articles in Getting Started:
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4 Things to Know Before You Choose a Private School
There are way more than four things to know about private school. But this will get you started.
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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How to Convince Your Child to Go to Private School
You want your child to go to private school. But how will you convince her to go?

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. A couple of concerns keep bubbling to the surface of your thinking.  For one thing, the school is very large. While the students get a relatively good education according to the statistics which you have seen, still you have that persistent, nagging feeling that your child deserves more. Her school offers about a dozen AP courses. There are still some clubs and other extracurricular activities available. The sports program seems to focus on the football and basketball team. The other factor influencing your decision is that you both work. Frequent business travel has become a regular feature of your life and looks as though it will continue for many years to come. The bottom line is that you want your child to attend private school because it will solve some of these problems and correct some of the deficiencies in her current public education. But how are you going to convince her to go along with you? Let's look at some strategies and approaches which work. This short video illlustrates some of the reasons why parents consider sending their children to private school.
 

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 that idea may be, is to dictate. Telling

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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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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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5 Factors for a Successful Private School Experience
As you consider sending your child to private school, think about these five factors which make for a successful private school experience.
As you consider sending your child to private school, think about these five factors which make for a successful private school experience. The right school With dozens of private schools to choose from, choosing the right one is probably the most crucial item on this list. Which is the right school? You'll know it when you visit it and talk to the admissions staff. It's the school which best meets your requirements as a parent and the requirements of that precious cargo which you are about to entrust to the school. You can review the statistics and data about the school. You can determine that its philosophy and educational mission align with your goals and objectives. But the real question is how will your child fit in. If you feel good about your answer to that question, you are all set.
The right sports As you review private schools, you will begin to realize that each school is unique. The facilities and programs are different at each school. Yes, each school may have a hockey team, for example, but at what level is the hockey actually being played? What's the coaching staff like? Sports are an integral part of most private school programs. But, as with everything else in this process, assume nothing. Investigate the sports offered, the level of the programs offered and the facilities. Your child will spend from 6-12 hours a week playing sports. Make it the best experience possible so that you set healthy
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Choosing a Private School

GETTING STARTED