After you’ve made the decision for your child to receive a private school education, there’s an integral decision that follows: Which school is the best option for the student?
While there are a multitude of options available, it’s important to make sure your child ends up at the private school that is the best fit and will help successfully prepare him or her for college and life after school, as well. There are a variety of factors that go into selecting which school is the most appropriate choice for your child and certain actions you need to take to ensure you’re gathering the necessary information about the different schools from which you can choose.
Make sure you first determine what your goals are in providing a private school education for your child — this will help to narrow down the possible schools in the selection process.
Conduct your research. Many of the answers to the questions you have can be found on a school’s website, which often includes brochures and informational downloadable pieces. Below are a handful of factors to consider when obtaining the information you need.
- Academics and achievements — Examine the school’s test scores as well as what percentage of students received National Merit Scholarship Program recognition. Additionally, what programs does the school have in place to help students excel in various subjects? What programs are available for students with special needs? What are some of the school’s greatest achievements — both as a whole and in specific programs and organizations? All of these concerns should be answered prior to making the decision with your child.
- Cost — Some families may be able to afford any private schools without needing to worry about budgeting, but that is not the case for every household. If financial assistance will be required for your child, request information from the school regarding scholarships and other forms of financial aid that can help cover the costs of tuition.
- The school’s basic values and philosophy — Be sure to gather information that paints a better picture of what beliefs guide the school’s approaches to instruction and the programs it offers. What is most important to the school, and what efforts does it make to ensure its values are carried out in the classrooms and throughout campus life?
- Overall culture of the school — It’s essential that your child is in an environment that is enjoyable and allows him or her to thrive. Find out how students and teachers interact with one another as well as what the energy level of the overall student body is. Do students seem motivated and appear to be enjoying being part of campus life? Does the school’s leadership create a welcoming environment for all students and faculty and staff members alike? You want to select a school where your child will feel comfortable walking through the doors each day.
- Accreditations — Take note of whether or not the school is accredited. If it is, what are its accreditations? Determining this information can provide you more insight into the school’s commitment and ability to support higher-level learning and continuous school improvement.
- Extracurricular activities — It’s important for your child to have the opportunity to participate in activities outside of the classroom — whether on sports teams, in performing arts organizations, or in clubs of specific interests. Make sure the school you select offers these outlets for your student to get involved and be a part of the campus’ community with his or her peers.
Visit the school. After you’ve gathered enough background information, the best way for you to get an idea of what the overall environment is like and how the students and teachers interact with one another is by setting foot on the campus and observing it for yourself. Getting that firsthand experience can help you and your child determine whether or not the school would be an ideal educationally and socially appropriate atmosphere for him or her.
Ultimately, what is most important is that your child receives the proper education to prepare him or her for success in college and then into his or her career, as well. Selecting the right private school is a decision for you and your child to make together and one that can reap wonderful rewards as you make this investment in his or her future.