A Baker's Dozen of 'Must Have' Sites
As you research private schools you will find yourself coming back to a handful of websites again and again. Why? Because they are informative, useful and easy to use. Here are my picks for 'must have' websites when it comes to finding out about private K-12 schools.
The Association of Boarding Schools
The Association of Boarding Schools site is dynamic and clean. I want to find information quickly with as few clicks as possible. The TABS site is one of those well-designed sites which allows you to do just that. You can drill down to member boarding schools, learn about recruiting fairs, financing, boarding school life and just about anything to do with boarding schools. This site is a 'must have' for parents living outside the United States who are thinking about sending their children to American boarding schools.
I included maps.google.com on this list of 'must have' websites because it allows me to zoom in and look at the street view. That is not important for schools and locations I know. But when I am researching a school in another state, Google Maps allows me to get the lay of the land quickly and efficiently. Also, because it is available as an app, I can plug the address in on my smartphone and get directions to the campuses of the schools which I am visiting.
Standardized admissions testing is an important component of your child's admissions profile. These tests are designed to assess what your child already knows so that schools can compare your child's achievements with other applicants who have taken the same test. The SSAT site helps you navigate through a wealth of useful information with relative ease. The robust filters allow you to find a test site and the dates when testing is offered at that site. You can register for testing online and select the schools to whom you wish to have your test results sent. You will also find plenty of useful information about the test, what's on it, how it is scored and so on.
The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE®) is another widely used standardized admissions test. It is available at select schools, the ISEE's New York headquarters office and at Prometric testing centers around the world. The site offers pages such as What To Expect On The ISEE which are very useful to parents preparing their children for a standardized admissions test.
If you are the parent of a child in middle school, you probably have already begun to consider your options for her high schooling. The AP or Advanced Placement curriculum is very common and widely used in just about every school in one form or another. Where I find this site helpful is that it allows me to look at some of the courses which may not be offered at every school. There are approximately 36 AP courses available. Most schools offer a dozen or so courses. A handful has a rich offering of 24 or more courses. The AP site will help you do more than just skim the surface of this well-developed, integrated curriculum which enjoys enormous respect worldwide.
If you are not familiar with the International Baccalaureate Organization and its various programs, you could spend hours on this site feasting on the wealth of information available from this old, very-highly regarded organization. Explore the Blog which will give you fascinating insights into how teachers work within the IB curriculum requirements. This is one of those reference sites like the Advanced Placement site which you should bookmark and return to as needed.
School and Student Services by NAIS
If you are thinking about asking for financial aid in order to be able to afford private school, then put this site near the top of your list. It is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. The site explains clearly and in detail how to prepare and submit the PFS or Parents' Financial Statement which is the SSS analyzes. SSS forwards schools which you select the results of its analysis, i.e., an estimation of what you can afford to contribute to your child's education based on the documentation which you have submitted.
American Montessori Society
Very early in the game, parents of infants and toddlers begin to think seriously about their options for early education. The AMS site offers an authoritative look at one of the most popular genres of early childhood education. Montessori schools appeal to many parents because of their philosophy of 'following the child'. The AMS site explains the Montessori Method, how classrooms are structured, the multi-age class approach and all the other facets of Maria Montessori's wonderful method.
The National Association of Independent Schools has a web site which is informative for parents beginning their search for a private school. It highlights the essential differences between public and private education. Much of the site is only accessible to member schools. Apart from that this is a reference site which you will want to revisit from time to time in order to stay current with the topic.
There are dozens of sites similar to AdmissionsQuest. But what AdmissionsQuest does better than most of its competitors is that it opens up the world of K-12 private education to parents and others curious about private schools. You invariably get the feeling that Peter Baron and his team are taking you through a series of rooms as they explain private schools, how to identify the right schools for your child, asking for financial aid and dealing with the admissions process. The explanations are clear and very helpful. This is another reference site you should bookmark and return to for its creators' experienced viewpoints and opinions.
I think these two sites are pretty amazing for several reasons: 1. I write for them. With that disclaimer out of the way reason #2 is very straightforward. Both sites have a very complete database of schools as well as some of the most robust filters of any private school school. What we have tried to do with both sites is to offer parents and anybody interested in private K-12 education a one stop site where you can find just about everything you need.
Private Schools on About.com
I wrote about private schools for About.com from 1997-2010. The site offers a deep bench of articles and resources on just about every aspect of private K-12 education.
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