What to Do When You Want to Pick a Private School
The decision about where to send your child to school is a big one. First you have to decide if you want them to go to public or private school. But your decision making does not end there. Now you have to decide which private school you will send them to. Here are some tips to help make it easier.
- Decide what you are looking for. What was the thing that made you decide to send your child to a private school? Are you looking for a school that has a specialty in a certain topic? Does your child have special needs that need to be taken into account? Make a list of what you are looking for, what you absolutely must have, what you would like but can do without and what you really do not want to have at the school. Talk this over with your child. The more input they can have in the process, the better you will both feel about the decision.
- Look at schools (online). Spend some time with your child looking at the private schools in the area. Look at images of the pictures of the campus, the student athletes facilities, the school library and the other areas of the school. Look at the academic programs. See if they have any testimonials and review them. Look a the private school’s history and philosophy. Make a list of the ones you both think are good prospects.
- Consider hiring a professional to help. One way to make the process go smoother and easier is to talk to an education consultant. Talking to a person who has all the information about the top private schools in and outside of your area can make the process go a lot faster. Take them your lists and have them meet your child and see if they can give you a list of schools that might be good candidates. Give them the list you had made up. Keep in mind that you can look at the websites for all of the schools but you will not get any personal insight into the school. There is only so much you can get from documents and the school is not objective. The education consultant is. After you and they have compared lists you are ready to get to the next step.
- Check out the different schools on your list. It is impossible to get to know a school without going and checking it out in person. Call the private schools and see what their policy is for prospective students who want to visit. If you can, see if you can arrange to stay there overnight. This will give you both a real chance to experience the school, see what the food is like and meet the other students. Before you go to each school, make a list of questions and areas you might want to see or get more information on. The admissions staff will want to talk to you and your child. This is a time for them to interview you both but also for you to interview them. This is not a one way street. Even if you love the first or second school on your list, make it a point to see all of the schools on your list. You never know if the last school on your list has something the others just did not.
- Do some academic preparation. Your child will be asked to take an admissions exam and submit an application. You can help with the admissions exam by doing practice tests. It does not matter if your child is in the honors program at their current school. It is always stressful to take an exam so doing the practice exams will give them more confidence when they have to take the real thing.
- Get everything in on time. That may seem like a given but a lot of people do not realize that this is critical. When you get the paperwork, make sure you know when it needs to be back at the school.
Picking a private school is a big decision but the process can be fun, too. Enjoy it!