I was musing the other day about how things might have turned out differently if this or that had happened in my life. The same exercise applies to just about any subject. So let's do it with private schools.
What if you can't make up your mind about whether to send your daughter to grade school or to high school?
You won't be alone if you are in a quandary about sending your child to primary grades or to high school. I wrote about this at length in Should You Send Your Child to Private Primary or High School? It is a catch 22 situation. Primary school lays the foundation for solid achievement in high school, while high school lays the foundation for solid achievement in college. If either academic foundation is constructed with less than the best materials, the educational structure built on that foundation will have deficiencies.
The solution is to find the private school which meets as many of your requirements as possible. I explain how to do this in The Search Process: A 5 Point Checklist
What if you think you cannot afford to send your child to a private school?
It is discouraging when you discover that a day school can cost $35,000 or more. And that's just for tuition. Add in fees and sundries such as music lessons, and you are probably looking at more than $40,000. Luckily, you have several options available to you. The first and most obvious one is that there are plenty of private schools which cost less than $35,000 a year. A lot less. Specifically, schools run by the various religions tend to charge much less than a private day school.
The second option available to you is financial aid. Depending on your circumstances you may be eligible for financial aid. Each private school has its own pool of funds for financial aid. The secret to success here is to ask about financial aid. Then follow the school's instructions for applying. If you are applying to several schools which use the Parents' Financial Statement or PFS, then you will only have to submit one application for financial aid. Your financial evaluation will be sent to the schools which you designate.
What if you think your child won't want to go to private school?
Once you have made up your mind that you want your child to attend a private school, the next step is to involve her in the decision-making process. You will not get good results if you make the decision unilaterally. Your child must think that going to a new school is her idea. Keep your lines of communication open. Never forget that your child's impressions are critical. You may not agree with them. Put on your poker face and listen carefully to her opinions. Finding the right school for her will mean that she will be happy at her new school. That is the only thing that matters.
What if your child has special needs?
You know your child better than anybody. If he has special needs, learning differences or something else which needs professional remediation or attention, you will be relieved to know that there are many private schools which have the staff and the resources to handle your child's needs. Investigate those schools very carefully. Look for schools which have highly-skilled, well-trained, and experienced teachers. The individual attention and instruction which these schools provide are costly but worth it.
What if your child doesn't test well?
You and know that taking standardized tests is a routine part of life. It becomes more involved and complex as you apply to college and graduate school. My point is that taking standardized tests is a skill which everybody has to master. However, if you believe that your child will flourish in a progressive school where standardized testing is not part of the academic regimen.
What if your child is weak in math?
There are two ways of looking at subject weaknesses. Most private school admissions staff will take academic weakness into account when considering your child's application. Be honest about the issue. Don't try to make excuses for it. Explain the steps which you have taken to help your child master the subject, such as tutoring and summer sessions. Once the admissions staff decide that your child can do the academic work at their school, they will probably monitor the situation carefully until the desired results are achieved. They know that their teaching style and the curriculum which they use will produce success. The admissions testing is helpful for making the right decisions here.
What if your child has been expelled from a private school?
Expulsion is never easy to handle. It is a major red flag. Convincing an admissions officer that your son who has been expelled from another private school will be a good fit at their school will be a tough sell. It will be much easier when the admissions officer sees solid academic achievement at your son's previous school. Swallow your pride and be proactive in explaining the corrective action your son has taken. Private schools have Codes of Conduct. As a parent, you have an obligation to read a Code of Conduct carefully and discuss it with your son. You both will have to sign a document stating that you have read and will comply with the terms of the school's Code of Conduct.
What if you want your child to go to an Ivy League college?
Sending your child to private day or boarding school will not guarantee acceptance at an Ivy League college. The Ivies are extremely competitive. Their admissions staffers look at a wide range of attributes, solid academic achievement being a major component in the admissions file. This is a situation where you must make sure that your child applies to a couple of safe schools where his acceptance will be more or less certain.
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