Choosing a Private School
As I prepared to write this article about searching for private K-12 schools, I had a flash back to the fall of 1986 when we started looking at schools for our eldest daughter. There was no email or internet back then, at least that the general public had access to. We knew friends who had gone to private school. At one point I had interviewed to be the Music teacher at a New England boarding school. But that was it. That was all we knew about private high schools. Reaching further back into my memory bank, I remember enrolling our eldest daughter in the now defunct St. Peter's by-the-sea Day School when it first opened in 1971. When we moved to Garden City, we enrolled her in the Waldorf School of Garden City. These two decisions were fairly easy because we knew the schools which came highly recommended by family and friends. No email or web searches were possible, nor were they needed.
Back to our 21st-century private school search. We have some very powerful tools available to us. Unfortunately, these tools can produce results which can be misleading, confusing or, at worst, useless. Search engines require us to filter the data carefully to eliminate information which we don't need. Useful results depend on the manner in which you word the search terms. Happily, this is not the case with the Private School Review search engine. Our programmers have set up the fields you need to search our
Here is another way of looking at the private school search process. This checklist highlights the main tasks in what is, for most of us, an eighteen to twenty-month long project. While circumstances will occasionally require you to do everything in a rush at the last minute, we will review progress from the point of view of the more customary time-frame. Work transfers or some other event requiring you to move to a new city never happen conveniently, do they? When you have to find a private school quickly, you will have to telescope the full-length search into a few months. That is doable, and I discuss how to handle that situation in Is It Too Late To Apply? In the meantime, let's review the five signs that you are on the right track in your private school search process.
You have scanned dozens of private school websites.
In step one, you look at as many private school websites as possible. Start with the powerful search engine right here on Private School Review. We have over 27,000 schools in our database. As a result, you should be able to find plenty of material. The only filters which you might want to use at this early stage are the following: kind of school, i.e., religious, military and special needs; and the grades offered. Before you start searching, determine the kind of school which you want for your child. If you are looking for
Philadelphia is home to some of the oldest K-12 schools in the nation. Located strategically on the east coast on the main transportation routes between New York City and Washington, DC, Philadelphia itself offers a wealth of commercial and cultural activities for families. And if the city doesn't have what you are looking for, Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland are just minutes away. The following school profiles spotlight private K-12 schools within 10 miles of Philadelphia. Of the 73 schools shown in the search results, I included schools which offer instruction up to Grade 12 and have a student population of over 200 in most cases.
Miles from Philadelphia: 6
Founded in 1968
Number of students: 123
Grades 9-12, day. Coeducational
Religious Affiliation: Christian
Student-teacher ratio: 11:1
The course catalog lists 5 AP courses. For complete details regarding curriculum, sports, extracurricular activities, costs, and other information, see the International Christian High School profile.
Miles from Philadelphia: 8.6
Founded in 1884
Number of students: 981
Grades PK-12, day. Boys
Religious Affiliation: Non-sectarian
Student-teacher ratio: 9:1
For complete details regarding curriculum, sports, extracurricular activities, costs, and other information, see The Haverford School profile.
Miles from Philadelphia: 0.3
Founded in 1689
Number of students: 971
Grades PK-12, day. Coeducational
Religious Affiliation: Quaker
Student-teacher ratio: 10:1
The Cleveland Council of Independent Schools currently has thirteen member schools in the Greater Cleveland metropolitan area. On the list below are schools which offer a variety of programs including college prep, Montessori, and special needs. The CCIS website is informative and useful. It also has an employment section worth bookmarking if you are looking for a teaching or administrative position in one of their member schools.
Andrews Osborne Academy, Willoughby, OH
Founded in 1910
Number of students: 336
Grades PK-12, day. Grades 7-12, boarding. Coeducational
Religious Affiliation: Nonsectarian
Andrews Osborne Academy is situated on a 330 acre campus about 20 miles east of Cleveland just outside the charming suburban city of Willoughby. The school offers a 6:1 student-teacher ratio. The course catalog lists 104 academic courses and 11 AP courses. For complete details regarding curriculum, sports, extracurricular activities, costs, and other information, see the Andrews Osborne Academy profile.
Birchwood School, Cleveland, OH
Founded in 1984
Number of students: 202
Grades PK-8, day. Coeducational
Religious Affiliation: Nonsectarian
Birchwood School is located in Cleveland convenient to I-90, I-480 and I-71. The school offers gifted education as well as a comprehensive series of signature programs such as Speech Fest and Woodmath. For complete details regarding curriculum, sports, extracurricular activities, costs, and other information, see the Birchwood School profile.
Gilmour Academy, Gates Mills, OH
Founded in 1946
Number of students: 653
Grades PK-12, day. Coeducational
Religious Affiliation: Roman Catholic
Use this five-point checklist to keep your search for private schools organized. If you ask your friends and family who have gone through the process of finding private schools for their children about their experiences, you will probably hear that the search is not difficult. On the other hand, it is time-consuming, has several deadlines, and can be demanding, particularly if you and your spouse have full-time careers. Before long somebody will create an app to help you keep your private school search in order. In the meantime use this simple checklist.
1. Look at schools.
"Cast your net as wide as you can." "Think outside the box." Sorry to bombard you with cliches, but they are the best suggestions which I can offer. Thinking outside the box is not always easy for us parents to do. We know our children so very well. That's a given. But some of us tend to be overly-protective, and we worry a lot. "She'll never do well in that school. Helen's son had a terrible time there." Force yourself to explore schools which you might not have put on your list, for one reason or another. As the following video illustrates, schools will put their best foot forward as they really want you to consider them, and, better yet, visit them.
This part of the school search process can be great fun. Why? Because most private schools have excellent websites. Private schools understand how important it is to