What Are You Looking For?
You and your child should have a clear idea of exactly what you want in a private school before you begin the search. Here are some general areas you might consider.
Accreditation & Licensing
Is the school licensed or approved by a recognized accrediting body?
What’s the tuition? What about other costs? Are there general fees? How much are books, other activity fees, general student costs?
Before- And After-School Programs
Can younger children be dropped off before, or stay after, regular school hours?
College Acceptance Rate
How many of the school’s graduates go on to higher education? What’s the college counseling department like at the school?
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?
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?
Is there a variety of extracurricular activities? Sports teams, a drama club, a school newspaper? How about opportunities for community service?
Is financial aid offered? How many students benefit from financial-aid programs? When must you apply?
How long will your morning commute be? What is the physical campus like?
Mission and 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?
Does the school have religious ties? Is it independently governed or overseen by a church organization?
How difficult is it to gain admission into the school? If you apply to selective schools, make sure to apply to several.
What’s the total school size? Class size? Student-to-teacher ratio? How does the school fit with what you know about your child?
Do you want a coeducational school or an all-boys or all-girls school? Which would work best for your child?