14 Things You Want to Consider Before You Start Your Search

You and your child will want a clear idea of exactly what you’re looking for in a private school before you begin the search.

1. Accreditation

Has the school been approved by a recognized accrediting body?


2. Affordability 

What’s the tuition? What about other costs? Are there general fees? How much are books, other activity fees, general student costs?


3. Before- and After-School Programs 

Can younger children be dropped off before, or stay after, regular school hours? 


4. College Acceptance Rates 

How many of the school’s graduates go on to higher education? What’s the college counseling department like at the school?


5. Curriculum 

Are there advanced-placement or International-Baccalaureate classes? Does the school have cocurricular, athletic, art, music and drama programs? Is a specific educational program followed, such as the Montessori or Waldorf method? How about year-round, block or modular scheduling?


6. Entry Points 

The most common entry points are preschool/kindergarten, sixth and ninth grades; however, each school’s entry points vary. Do many children transfer into the school at a certain grade? Are there ages at which the school does not accept new students?


7. Extracurricular Activities 

Is there a variety of extracurricular activities? Sports teams, a drama club, a school newspaper? How about opportunities for community service?


8. Financial Aid 

Is financial aid offered? How many students benefit from financial-aid programs? When must you apply?


9. Location 

How long will your morning commute be? What is the physical campus like?


10. Mission & Philosophy 

Have you looked over the school’s mission statement and seen how it is incorporated into the school? Why was the school founded and how has its mission changed over the years?


11. Type 

Do you want a coeducational school or an all- boys or all-girls school? Which would work best for your child?


12. Religious Affiliation 

Does the school have religious ties? Is it independently governed or overseen by a church organization?


13. Selectivity 

How difficult is it to gain admission into the school? If you apply to selective schools, make sure to apply to several.


14. Size 

What’s the total school size? Class size? Student-to-teacher ratio? How does the school fit with what you know about your child?