What's On Your To-Do List?

What's On Your To-Do List?
We busy parents use to-do lists to keep ourselves organized. Keeping the school selection process organized will require a lengthy to-do list.

We busy parents use to-do lists to keep ourselves organized. Honestly, I sometimes wonder how we could keep going without to-do lists. If you are thinking about private school for your child, some of these items might just be on your to-do list too.

Identify 8-10 schools we like.

This is one of the fun parts of choosing a private school. Why? Because most private schools offer video tours both on their websites and on their YouTube channels. While both websites and videos are obviously edited carefully to make the best possible impression on you, they are terrific for giving you an overview of programs and the school community.

Watch as many videos as you can. Review the academic and sports programs in detail.

By casting the net widely in the early stages of choosing a school, you can easily eliminate schools from consideration because they lack something you feel is essential for your child's education.

This video offers a look at the Forsyth School in St. Louis, Missouri.

Visit 3-5 schools this summer and early fall.

Summer and early fall are really the best times to visit schools. Summer has its advantages and disadvantages. The major advantage is that school is not in session. That means you can expect to spend some time with the admissions staff who will have more time to allocate to you than, say, in November or December. Application deadlines occur at the end of January for many private schools. You can imagine the pressure the admissions team will be under as they get down to the wire. If you want to see the school in session, then plan to visit in late September or early October.

Find out whether we qualify for financial aid.

Don't wonder or worry. Complete the PSF and submit it. Get that done as soon as you can. Most private schools have very generous financial aid programs. Some schools even offer a free education if your family income is below a certain threshold.

This video offers a look at Stuart Hall School in Staunton, Virginia.

Find a school that doesn't teach AP courses

Some parents just don't like the concept of an educational model which embraces formal testing and a structured approach to curriculum. Interestingly enough there are a small group of high schools that do not teach AP courses or the International Baccalaureate curriculum. These kinds of schools are known as progressive schools. You know your child. If a structured, traditional assessment-oriented approach to education just won't work for your child, explore progressive schools. And don't worry about whether your child will be able to get into college. Getting your child into college is on these schools' to-do bucket lists too.

Find the best boarding school for Bill

It is a bit bewildering. I'll admit that. Hundreds of boarding schools out there. Where do you begin? How do you know that you are choosing the best school? Start by understanding that the best fit for your child trumps every other consideration. Get the fit right and your child will be happy. That is really the most important consideration.

See if Uncle Bob's school will accept Bill

As you think about schools the idea of sending your son to a school that one of your relatives attended might occur to you. Being a legacy or an applicant who is related to a present or past student of a school is generally a nice introduction to any school. Just be aware that the usual admission requirements still remain in place. Strong academic abilities as evidenced by transcripts and admissions testing will be a prerequisite for admission. Schools need to know that applicants can do the work.

Sue St. Swithin's for expelling Bill

St. Swithen's expelled your son? You had better discuss the situation with your attorney. Make sure he reviews the contract which you signed with the school. Don't let your emotions get the better of you. Being upset is understandable. But suing when you actually might have no case is just a waste of time and money. Schools have strict codes of conduct. These rules are carefully explained to every student at the beginning of each school year. The rules are discussed frequently so that no student can plead ignorance of them.

Call an educational consultant recommended by your friend.

If you have begun the process of choosing a private school and have discovered that you don't have enough time to handle such a big project, you might well be thinking about hiring a professional educational consultant to do a lot of the legwork for you. Consultants know their schools. They know the standards. They will recommend a short list of schools which will contain a balanced list of schools for you to visit and apply to. She will make sure that there are one or two schools on the list which are both good fits for your requirements as well as being safe for your child to get into. There's no point in applying only to competitive schools and running the risk of being rejected at every school to which you apply.

Apply for a student visa.

If your child is not an American citizen, you will have to apply for a U.S. student visa. The school which accepts you will provide you with the paperwork you need. Please be aware that obtaining a visa takes time and must be done in person at an American embassy in your country. This is not a task that you can put off until the last minute. The acceptance letter and Form I-20 from the school will arrive at the same time in March. Once you have that paperwork, do not delay. Go online and complete the student visa application.

Register Bill for SSAT

Registering your son to take his SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test) is easy to do online. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. But there is a catch: if your son has never taken a standardized test or does not test well under timed testing conditions, then start several months before the actual test date making sure he works a couple of practice tests. He can do the first test at his own pace. But have him work to the clock on the next couple of tests. That will build his confidence for the day of the real test. While practice will not make perfect in this case, it most certainly will help him achieve the best possible result.

Prepare Gretel for TOEFL

If your child's mother tongue is not English, then she will have to prepare for the Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL. The schools to which you are applying will have their own standards for an acceptable TOEFL score. Check with the school to confirm. Make sure your child works lots of practice tests so that when she takes the real exam, she does her best.

This is just a sampling of items that will be on many parents' to-do lists. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas about your to-do lists on our Facebook page.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @privateschoolreview

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