What Are You Looking For in a Private School?

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. Here are some general areas you might consider.

1. Accreditation

Private School accreditation

Has the school been approved by a recognized accrediting body?


2. Affordability

Private School 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

Private School bus

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


4. College Acceptance Rate

Private School college acceptance

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


5. Curriculum

Private School curriculum

Are there advanced-placement or international-baccalaureate classes? Does the school have co-curricular, 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

Private School 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

Private School 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

Private School financial aid

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


9. Location

Private School location

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


10. Mission and Philosophy

Private School mission

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. Religious Affiliation

Private School religious affiliation

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


12. Selectivity

Private School selectivity

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


13. Size

Private School 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?


14. Type

Private School type

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