Choosing a Private School
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 her that
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
As I have often said on these pages, finding the right private school for your child is a process, and a daunting process at that. There are a great many factors to consider. So, before you spend $30,000 or more on a year at private school for your child, you need to ask five questions and be guided by the answers you receive:
1. Does it get the results you want?
2. Does what the school teaches jibe with your requirements?
3. Will your child be happy there?
4. Is the school financially stable?
5. How will you pay for it?
There is a bit more to the process, of course, but asking these five questions will get you started on the extensive due diligence which you must do before you spend approximately $150,000 for four years of private day school or approximately $200,000 for four years of boarding school. Tuition varies from school to school. Some are much less. Some a great deal more. Also we are only discussing high school and middle school. The primary grades will run you $8,000 - $15,000 depending on the school.
Another point to consider is that private schools in the United States are not subsidized by government funding. So they will charge whatever the market forces and their budgets determine can be charged and needs to be charged. Having said that, be aware that most private schools offer generous financial aid program. Some schools will even pay for everything as long as
Over the years I have steadfastly maintained that ranks are not important when it comes to choosing the right school for your child. My viewpoint, however, runs counter to what most parents hear and see in the popular media which loves to crow about this top school or that elite school in video clips which usually have more to do with a scandal or tragedy of some sort than they do with the mission of the school and its academics. Amid all the sensationalism comes the subliminal message that 'this is a great school". Then there are various sites which purport to rank private K-12 schools.
Where ranking private K-12 schools comes unglued is the fact that each private school is unique. They are all different. They each approach their educational missions from their own unique perspectives. Yes, in a general sense they have a common mission which is to educate your child. However, because each school has its own approach, its own facilities and programs, they cannot be compared apples to apples. I used to be a real estate broker back in the 80s. I often fall back on that experience of finding the right house for my clients when it comes to advising parents on the right school for their children. The analogy is apt. For example, the couple who want a 3 bedroom house on 3 acres of land will find dozens of listings for them to look at. Are they all the