Private Schools: 10 Challenges You Will Face

Private Schools: 10 Challenges You Will Face
As you begin to think about sending your child to private school you will quickly become aware of at least ten challenges you will face.

As you consider sending your child to a private school, you will quickly become aware of at least ten challenges you will face. If you are intrinsically well-organized and able to cope with a major project, tackling all that's involved with getting your child safely off to private school shouldn't be too difficult. There's just a lot to the project. If you find projects daunting, hopefully, this short essay will help you focus on the main sections of the process. Let's get started.

1. Deciding whether to send your child for primary grades or high school

I assume you have decided to send your child to a private school. Several articles in Private School Review explain the differences between private and public education. If you still need help making that decision, then read those first. Then, circle back and pick up with this first challenge.

There are two schools of thought about whether you should send your child to primary grades or high school. One line of thinking is that your child needs a solid foundation in core skills such as reading and math. That approach's proponents are adamant that you should send your child in the early, formative years. The other school of thought touts the idea that a solid college preparatory education in the high school years is essential. The thinking is that intensive preparation for college-level studies will help your child get into a good college or university, perhaps even a top-tier one.

This video offers some strategies for college prep.

If you can afford it, send your child to private school from pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade. Perhaps not to the same school all the way through. You could, for example, start with a Montessori school through sixth grade. Then, a day school through eighth or ninth grade. Finish up with a boarding school for grades ten through twelve.

2. Convincing your high school-aged child to go to a private school

The secret here is to make her think this is her idea. It cannot be anything that you thought up. You can undoubtedly support her decision once she has made that decision. If you ignore my advice, you will probably end up with a very miserable teenager. I know that you know what is best for your child. You can get away with that kind of unilateral thinking and approach while she is young. However, I strongly counsel against employing that approach with a pre-teen or teenager. The idea of going away to a private school has to be her idea. Start well ahead with general discussions about high school and where it can lead. Listen carefully to her needs, concerns, and wants. You will come to a common ground after a while. It will be worth it because she will embrace the idea and make it hers.

This video explains how to get your teenager to listen to your advice.

3. Deciding which school is the right one

Many people think this is the most daunting part of getting into private school. It is fun and much easier because almost everything you need to know about a school is online. So poke around, explore, and begin to refine your requirements. You will end up with 10-12 schools which more or less fit the bill. Whittle that down to 3-5 schools. Still not sure which ones will work best? Hire an educational consultant. There's nothing like an expert to save time. Her advice will be well worth her fee.

This video offers suggestions on choosing the best school for your child.

Involve your child in this part of the process. Remember that going to a private school must be her idea.

4. Deciding whether to go to boarding school or day school

The answer to this question has a lot to do with your lifestyle. If you or another adult cannot be home at the end of a school day to supervise homework and after-school activities, then perhaps boarding school is the best option for you. If you live within a short drive of a day school - 5 miles or less - then day school might be a viable option. Much depends on where you live. Day school makes sense in a large city with reliable public transportation. However, if you have to make two trips to school every day through heavy traffic, you might want to reconsider either the day school you are considering or the boarding school option.

Having raised four children, I honestly say that after-school supervision was always my biggest concern. We were the kind of parents who wanted to be within earshot. And we never let our teenagers ride with another teenage driver. Review the supervision issue carefully. Perhaps boarding school is ultimately your best option.

5. Getting in

Assuming that you have been realistic in selecting schools your child has a reasonable chance of getting into, this part of the process is time-consuming. There are school visits, interviews, admissions tests, and applications to complete within a relatively compact time frame of approximately four to six months.

This video explains what you need to know about private school admissions.

That is why it is essential not to leave all these tasks until the last minute. Try to schedule school visits over the summer or in the early fall. Admissions testing usually takes place in late November—early December. In most cases, you have until January 31 to submit your application.

6. Planning school visits

Visits to boarding schools require careful planning, so begin that process as soon as you can. It is always a good idea to use the summer and early fall to visit schools. Schools are very busy in November and December. Be considerate.

Peter Baron of AdmissionsQuest offers practical advice for the interview part of your visits.

Day schools typically schedule open houses with group tours. During these, you will have the opportunity to explore the possibilities, ask questions, and meet the admissions staff.

7. Preparing for the admissions testing

Like planning school visits, you should begin preparing your child for admissions testing as far in advance as possible. Buy the practice tests. Have her work one or two. If she needs help with something, you will at least have a few months to get that done. Hire a tutor.

This video gives you an overview of how to prepare for the SSAT.

Finally, a couple of weeks before the test have her work a practice test under test conditions. No distractions. No interruptions. No smartphone or tablet. She must work to the clock. Simulating the test conditions will help her conquer test day nerves. She will take a deep breath and do her best.

8. Meeting the application deadlines

Once again, this part of the process has been made a lot easier because you can do most of your applications online. But don't let that lull you into thinking you can submit your application at the last minute. Have your applications ready to review and submit no later than the second week of January for schools with January 31 deadlines. Submit applications to schools with rolling admissions deadlines as soon as you have completed them.

If you require financial aid, it is vitally important that you submit your Parents' Financial Statement and supporting documentation together with your completed application as soon as possible. Do not miss the deadlines.

9. Paying for it

Yes, I saved the best—or worst, depending on your perspective—for last. If you need financial aid, file your PFS as soon as you can. Financial aid pools are always limited. Don't miss any deadlines if you need to be considered for financial aid. Work tuition payments and the sundries into your budget. Keep things current.

This video introduces us to financial aid in private schools and how it works.

You have several options, including free schools. If you have been posted overseas, most large international companies will include schooling for the children of expatriate employees as part of your package. Also, several dozen private schools offer free or greatly reduced tuition for families with incomes below certain thresholds. Always ask about financial aid if you feel you need help.

10. Being involved with your child's school

If your child attends day school, you will have plenty of opportunities to be involved with her school. Be supportive and do as much as you can to help out. Your options are somewhat restricted if your child is heading to boarding school. At the very least, plan to attend parents' weekends, especially if you do not have to travel far.

The idea behind offering this list of ten challenges that you will face is to help you organize the process of choosing a private school for your child. Significant projects like choosing a school can be intimidating. There are many things to do, many forms to fill out, and appointments to arrange. When you take this significant project apart and realize that it has ten parts, Hopefully, it will be a little less daunting.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @privateschoolreview

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