High School Issues

Learn more about high school academics, discipline policies and other issues relevant to private schools. Here we cover dress codes, explain the difference between AP and IB courses and discuss teen suicide. You’ll also find information on study abroad programs, codes of conduct and the best graduation gifts.
View the most popular articles in High School Issues:
Updated June 25, 2014 |
Interactive Learning the Harkness Way
Students sitting in rows of desks listening to a teacher lecture? You are not likely to find this scenario in a school which uses Harkness Tables.
Students sitting in rows of desks listening to a teacher lecture? You are not likely to find this scenario in a school which uses Harkness Tables. The brainchild of wealthy industrialist Edward Harkness, an Exeter alumnus, Harkness Tables are oval tables which seat 12-18 students together with their teacher. You cannot hide in the back of the classroom which uses Harkness Tables. That's the point. Engaged students learn.
 
In ancient times teaching was collaborative - think Socrates and Quintillian - but somewhere in our Victorian-Edwardian past we got off the rails and began lining children up in regimented rows of chairs and desks. Maria Montessori and Rudolph Steiner rebelled against this sort of regimentation. Their classrooms became what we would now call activity centers.
 
High school lab courses such as chemistry and physics have always been interactive and hands on. Discussion of findings and research are encouraged in that collaborative environment. Every member of the class has an opinion and a finding. That is the idea behind the Harkness Table. Every member of the class is encouraged to be an active participant. Because eye contact is a critical element of this style of learning, the Harkness Table's oval shape is ideal. It allows everybody around the table to see and be seen. Students and teacher interact. The teacher facilitates without dominating the lesson. He guides and steers the learning process. Maria Montessori would be thrilled.
 
Harkness Tables are widely used in prep
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Updated January 18, 2016 |
Codes of Conduct
Discipline in private schools generally begins with a code of conduct.

One of the reasons we parents send out children to private school is because of discipline. We have grown concerned about our children being in large classes where the teachers spend much of their teaching time dealing with discipline issues. That's not the education environment we want for our children. We want them to go to school to learn in a safe, supportive environment. 

As you investigate private schools at any level, review how the schools handle discipline. Because each private school is a stand-alone entity, how it approaches the matter of discipline will vary from school to school. Be ready for that. How a school handles discipline is one of many factors which will influence your choice of schools.

What is a code of conduct?

Discipline in private schools generally begins with a code of conduct. A code of conduct is a document which has been produced by the school administration and approved by the board of trustees or other governing body. The code of conduct is generally read and signed by parents and students at the time of admission to the school. It becomes part of the contract between student, parents and the school which governs your attendance at the school. Since you have already agreed to the school's code of conduct beforehand, when you commit an infraction of the code, you will be disciplined accordingly. 

It will be difficult if not impossible to claim ignorance of the school's discipline code. The

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Updated May 25, 2016 |
School Year Abroad
Several private schools offer a whole academic year abroad. Still others offer a summer abroad.
Several private schools offer a whole academic year abroad. Still others offer a summer abroad. These are enrichment programs designed to expose students who participate in them to the culture and customs of the host country. Promoting global understanding is an underlying aim of all these 'abroad' programs.

School Year Abroad
The School Year Abroad program was started by Phillips Academy in 1964. It is now operated by a consortium of about 30 schools located across the nation. Basically SYA offers approximately 60 students in their junior or senior year the opportunity to spend an academic year abroad in China, France, Italy, Spain or India. Students stay with host families. They are able to maintain their academic standing with their home school while at the same time experiencing all that a year living abroad offers.

Summer Abroad
Several schools offer summer programs which take place in foreign countries. Here are two examples of the sort of thing being offered:

"Woodberry in Mexico brings students to Morelia, where they take a variety of classes in nontraditional subjects such as guitar, drums, pre-Hispanic Michoacan, human zoology, and Mexican cuisine. They also have opportunities to experience parts of Mexico few Americans see. Possibilities include tours of artisans’ workshops, a professional soccer match, an excursion to colonial towns, and an orphanage visit. In Ixtapa, students experience an “all-inclusive” resort along the beautiful Mexican coastline. Puebla and Oaxaca offer important archeological sites that teach much about indigenous cultures." ...
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Updated June 09, 2016 |
You have questions about private schools. We have answers.
Professor Photo by Laura Glover
I just discovered that my parents can't afford this year's tuition. What should I do?
 
You and your parents need to meet with the financial office immediately and work something out. If your marks are really good and you are one of the school's top athletes, anything is possible. Don't delay.
 
Why is my school blocking access to RateMyTeachers.com?
 
Probably because the school administration thinks RateMyTeachers.com is a waste of time. But who cares. You can always log on at home and rate your teachers on your own time.

Is it true that private schools are only for rich kids?
 
No. They used to be years ago. But that's changed. Most schools welcome students no matter what their financial circumstances, as long as they can meet the admissions requirements. Student bodies have become quite diverse.
 
What are my chances of getting into a prep school for Grade 12? It's March and I am thinking about going this fall?
 
Good luck. It's awfully late in the year to be 'thinking' about getting into a grade 12 or senior year in any prep school anywhere. But you never know. If you have really good grades and some great references, you might stand a chance. It won't hurt to hire an educational consultant to expedite the process.
 
I just got caught smoking pot in my dorm room. Will I be expelled?
 
Most likely you will be expelled. Most schools have pretty tough
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Updated June 24, 2014 |
Graduation is always a warm, happy occasion. Mark this important milestone with a memorable gift. Here are some suggestions.
Your child has worked very hard at private school. She has covered herself in academic glory, won many honors in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities and is ready for the next step: college. Graduation is always a warm, happy occasion as family gathers to bathe in all that reflected glory. Mark this important milestone with a memorable gift. Here are some suggestions with every budget in mind.

A Biking Trip
He'll be back at school studying hard soon enough. So why not treat him (or her) to a biking trip? There are several companies which organize these action-packed trips. Check out Teen Treks and Overland, for example.

A Scooter
A scooter is sustainable transportation especially if she will be going to college in an urban area without much public transporation. The Honda Metropolitan, for example, reminds me of the classic Vespa (only less expensive). It's easy to operate and light on the pocketbook.

A Watch
There are hundreds of makers and thousands of models of watches to choose from as you well know.  In every price range too. From Michele to Casio.

A Pen
The bespoke shops call them writing instruments. Whatever you call them, a fine pen is a gift to be cherished. Mont Blanc and Cross have a variety of models from which to choose.

Make your gift memorable or a keepsake or both. Best wishes to you
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High School Issues

Academics

A comprehensive look at high school academics. We cover grades, AP and IB courses, and the post graduate year. Learn the secrets of A+ students. Explore summer abroad programs, read interviews with experts and get valuable tips on excelling academically.

Discipline

A brief look into high school discipline policies. From codes of conduct to uniforms and dress code, we'll provide information on the latest practices in private schools.

Other Issues

From graduation gifts to preventing teen suicide, this section provides information on a variety of topics affecting high school students. Learn what to do when your child is expelled, you need financial aid or you’re looking for a teaching job. Get expert advice on protecting your teen from substance abuse, finding the right high school and handling personal technology on campus.