Here is an overview of the private school admissions process, as well as the steps needed to find the right private school for your child. Depending on where you live, you will have several options from which to choose. I recommend that you look at every school objectively because you may discover that a school which you thought was not suitable, in fact, is one which you should evaluate in more detail. While private schools have missions which are fairly static and unchanging, they are constantly adding new programs, courses and activities to their mix to remain competitive. The market drives how successful private schools are. Parents have options. Private schools know that and will always try to match their offerings with what they know parents want.
An overview of the process
The school selection process has six components to it:
- discussion of your needs and requirements
- a quick review of available schools
- evaluation of a short list of schools
- visits and interviews
- the formal admissions application.
You will notice that a couple of the components on this list overlap. It is perfectly normal to be working on components in a different order from the one outlined above. This list is flexible and is merely a guide to help you work through what is a fairly lengthy eighteen-month process. You will discover that some tasks take longer to complete than others. That is to be expected.
Discuss your requirements.
First things first. Figure out what your needs and requirements in a school are. Yes, it is all well and
What follows is a fictional interview. I wrote it to illustrate why some parents chose a specific kind of high school education for their child. The account is fictional to the extent that the parents I am interviewing in this article do not exist per se. However, the scenarios, facts and questions about private schools are ones which I have dealt with countless times over the years. They are real. Hopefully, you will find the answers in this interview both helpful and useful.
Helen, why did you consider sending your child to a boarding school?
My husband and I thought about sending our daughter to boarding school. Convincing her that boarding school would be the best option was a major challenge. However, with the help of our educational consultant and a couple of close friends whose children currently attend boarding school in Vermont, we were able to show her the incredible value a boarding school education offers.
What clinched the deal was the vast array of extracurricular activities which the schools we visited offered. We live in a very affluent area of Connecticut. The public schools are highly rated. But honestly, they offered fewer extracurricular activities than most of the boarding schools we reviewed. Our daughter is an avid swimmer and field hockey enthusiast. The athletic facilities and grounds at most of the schools we visited were superb. They contained state of the art equipment with professional athletic staff supervising their programs. That was very reassuring to us.
Beginning the school search process is a lot of fun. Those beautiful photographs of tree-lined campuses and sports activities, the candid shots of classroom scenes portraying kind, patient teachers, the history of the school and its many accomplishments over the years as well as all those famous graduates - it is all very impressive. So, you make a list of schools which you want to examine in greater detail. At this point in your school search process, the question which I posed in the title of this article begins to surface.
I can hear you wondering how you are going to compare schools objectively when the costs seem to be so different from one school to the next. One boarding school charges $56,000 for tuition, room and board while another school in the same state lists its tuition, room and board as $28,000. Why, then, do some schools cost so much and some cost so little?
Your costs for schools which charge the most for their services range from $45,000 to $65,000. These schools are residential schools or what we commonly call boarding schools. As well as charging for tuition and related expenses, these schools have to bill for room and board. You will notice that some schools offer two types of boarding arrangements. One is the customary seven-day a week boarding; the other is a five-day boarding scheme where the students reside at the school during the week and return home on the weekends. The five-day boarding scheme costs
Parents have many reasons for deciding to take their children out of public school and enrolling them in private school. This circumstance is something which can happen at any stage of your child's education. You could face this issue as early as nursery school or as late as high school, or even somewhere in between.
Recently I spoke with a mother who had taken her son out of a Montessori school and put him in the local public school. The problem with the Montessori school was the teacher. The public school worked fine for one year. Her child loved his new teacher, and the new teacher seemed to love her children. Ironically the public school teacher seemed to do a better job of following the child than the Montessori teacher did. Considering that following the child was one of Dr. Maria Montessori's principal tenets, you would have thought that the Montessori teacher could have gotten that right. In any case, his mother reported that they had one good year. Her son was happy. The teacher was happy. All was going well. Unfortunately, during the second year, things began to unravel, largely due to an inflexible teacher who expected all the children in her rather large class of 25 first graders to march in lockstep.
Against that backdrop, let's you and I explore a couple of typical scenarios where a change of schools just might be the only answer for your child.
Your child does not fit in.
So, you have decided that your
Have you seen some of those lists with titles like 50 Things You Must Do Before You Graduate From College? I like the idea of lists. It keeps me focused. But honestly a couple of those lists I read made me wonder what on earth were they thinking. With tuition and fees running $50,000 and more at a private college, I thought that most of the items were a total waste of time and effort. Consequently I offer the following worthwhile things to do before you graduate from private school.
Get strong SAT scores.
This assumes that you are attending a school which prepares you for the SAT which is one of the standardized tests you take as part of getting admitted to college. The SAT just like the LSAT or GMAT tests your knowledge gained over several years. While you can certainly take a couple of practice tests to get a feel for the test and working to the clock, really the best preparation for the SAT is your day by day conscientious learning. You cannot cram SAT preparation.
Offer at least 5 AP's.
If you are in a high school which teaches Advanced Placement courses, then try your very hardest to take 5 AP courses. They are a lot of work. Some are very difficult. The upside is that colleges recognize the AP standard and may give you credit for introductory courses in the subjects you took APs in depending on your score.
Here is what