If you are considering a private school for your child's education here are some frequently asked questions to help you start your search:
Why should I choose a private school for my child?
"As your child begins private education, you are entering a special community of parents concerned with providing the finest possible preparation for their children's futures. Private schools have served American families since the 17th century-often preceding the first public institutions. Competition between these two types of schools has strengthened both, while guaranteeing that families like yours have meaningful alternatives when it comes to education. What makes private schools unique? Each was founded by an individual or group with a clear and distinct approach to education-a mission. As a result, you can choose the school whose mission matches your child's needs. Private schools also have a Board of Trustees, which keeps the school "on track" by protecting and nurturing that special mission." Source: Independent School Management (ism)
The National Public Opinion Poll of Perceptions of Independent Schools, commissioned by the National Association of Independent Schools, found that "independent schools are seen as the most different in offering a more personalized, customized education, and an environment that is civil and controlled. Small class sizes, individualized attention, values, manners, and discipline are the most important factors describing differences between public and independent schools."
How are private schools different from public schools?
Students generally do more homework, watch less television, and
read more than their public school counterparts (
US Department of Education study). A greater percentage of
students participate in the arts, athletics, and other
extracurricular activities. Achievement, hard work and study are
typically valued by all members of the community. Teachers interact
with students in all aspects of school life and not just in the
classroom. They promote critical thinking and a love of learning.
Teachers have greater instructional latitude. The schools emphasize
ethical behavior and good citizenship.
Students are expected to be well-mannered and disciplined. Emphasis is placed on communication between school and home. Most are funded privately through tuition and charitable contributions.
What types of private schools are there?
There are schools for every level of education:
PreK/K-12th Grade Programs
Schools with Religious Affiliations
Schools with Special Programs
How do I decide which school is the right choice for my child?
As a parent, you know that all children are not alike. Each child has his or her own special talents, interests, developmental patterns, and emotional needs. A school that is right for one may not be the best choice for another.
When you are selecting a school, ask yourself questions such as these:
- Is the curriculum appropriate for my child's talents and
- Will the school challenge without overwhelming?
- Will my child be comfortable in the school's environment? Will I?
- Are there opportunities for my child to pursue special interests?
- Will my child learn the values that are important to our family? Source: Independent School Management (ism)
Once you have heard from the schools that accepted your child, you will be given a certain amount of time to make your decision-usually two or three weeks. If you have not already visited the campus, you should schedule a visit immediately. Even if you have been on the campus before, you may want to visit again. Talking to other families in the school can also be helpful. Making the final decision is never easy, but listening to your gut instincts will probably lead you to the right choice.
Whichever school you choose, be sure to inform all of the schools that accepted your child. Many schools have candidates on waiting lists, and these students are anxious to learn whether a space will become available. Once you return the enrollment contract with the tuition deposit, your family will be considered part of that school's community.
How do I afford the tuition at a private school?
Private education is not cheap, but it doesn't have to break your bank account. Try to plan ahead as much as possible so that you can keep the cost within reach. It is important to note that the family bears the primary responsibility for financing their child's education to the extent that they are able.
Contact each school directly so that you can learn about the full range of financial options available. Most private schools offer financial aid to families that demonstrate need. The money for these grants comes directly from the school's budget and demonstrates the school's commitment to having a diverse student population. Another common option is a monthly payment plan. These plans allow families to spread out their tuition payments over a period of eight to ten months. Occasionally, schools offer loan program. No matter which of these options you decide to pursue, following deadlines for submitting the necessary documentation is essential. Remember that the admissions officer is willing to help you navigate the process.
How do I find out what the admissions process is for each school?
Visit each school's website and read the information about the admissions process. Or, call the office directly and ask for the information. The process is usually laid out in a step-by-step format. Most schools have a similar process, but you need to be responsible for paying attention to differing dates and requirements.
Will my child have to take a test to get into a private school?
Most private schools require some form of testing prior to admittance. Many schools share their testing results with one another. Consult each school website for details. Schools admitting younger students may administer age-appropriate assessments. Schools admitting older students may require the ISEE (independent school entrance exam) or some other standardized test. You can visit the ISEE website at www.iseetest.org for further information. You may also be required to schedule an interview with the admissions office. Each school has their own requirements and it is your responsibility to be sure all of them are done during the admissions process.