Finding the right private school for your child can prove challenging. By following these simple steps during the research phase, it will save you countless hours. In addition, once you have pinned down some schools to explore, follow our tips to check out the schools on your list.
How to Find Private Schools
- Internet Search – Most families do some internet research to find a private school in their area. For example, these are some common search terms you could put in your search engine: private schools, private schools near me, all-boys schools, all-girls schools, military schools, military academies, independent schools, and boarding schools.
- Referrals – One of the best ways to find the right match is speaking to friends, neighbors and colleagues. People are always glad to share information about their children’s schools. It will also give you a chance to hear success stories and to know more about parental expectations.
- Review Sites – There are a number of websites that provide private school directories. They typically include: type of school, coed or single gender, grade levels, enrollment, location, religious affiliation, test scores, and tuition. Some sites even include reviews.
- Here are some sites to check out to compare data and information: Niche, Great Schools, Private School Review, and Boarding School Review. These sites typically use a ranking system based on a number of variables. You can use their filters to find schools in your area or by the type of school you are seeking.
- Go to School Websites Next, visit school websites to look at their curriculum, electives, clubs, activities, athletics, mission, values, and philosophy. In addition, look at their academic approach and support systems to ensure it meets your child’s needs.
- Go to School Fairs – In some regions, K-6 and K-8 schools host high school fairs to help their current families find the right private school. These fairs are held as a courtesy to families, so they can choose the right high school. Also, local consortiums sometimes offer fairs or events in their respective counties. Keep your eyes open for education and high school fairs in your area.
- Use a Consultant – In the field of education, there are educational consultants and international agents to guide families in their search for the right match.
Domestic Consultants: To be qualified for AIECP or IECA, these associations require members to provide professional references, demonstrate current and related work experience in the field, and hold graduate degrees. These educational consultants can be especially helpful if you are having difficulty finding the right school. For instance, if your child has learning differences (ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Auditory Processing, or emotional/behavior issues), they can help guide you. Also, they can sometimes assist over time with your child’s college choices and applications.
International Agents: If your son/daughter needs to enroll as an international student and will need an F-I Visa, then an international agent can prove useful. They will help you find a private boarding school or a private school.
Although some private day schools sometimes offer off-site hosting for international students, this is a different experience than a boarding school. Traditional boarding schools and military boarding schools are typically the best options, as they offer amenities similar to a college campus (e.g. classes, dorms, enrichment centers, athletic facilities, rec hall, health center, dining hall).
If you contact the admission office, they can assist with the entire process, with or without agent support. Also, if your child will need ESL or ESOL, make sure you find a boarding school that offers classes; they are few and far between. Most school websites also offer Google Translate or some selected pages that are translated to assist you with any language barriers.
Exploring Private Schools
Once you have narrowed your selection to 2-5 schools that you would like to visit, do the following:
- Contact the Admission Office – After you have narrowed down a shortlist of schools to explore, it is important to pick up the phone or arrange a phone/virtual appointment with an admission professional.
- Schedule a Campus Appointment – During your first contact, the admission counselor will typically encourage you to schedule a campus visit. The visit will allow you to go on a campus tour with an adult and/or student, receive a family consultation, complete the application steps, review tuition, and address financial assistance (if needed).
- Prepare for the Campus Visit – Prior to your visit, it is wise to complete the online application, send transcripts, teacher recommendations, and any other application steps. This will allow the associate to prepare for your appointment. Also, check out related articles below on how to prepare for the student interview.
- Check their social media – To explore what is happening on campus, you can check their Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube channel. This will give your and your child or teen a glimmer of what is happening with sports, clubs, trips, academics, and events.
- Check their review sites – Review sites can give you insights into what is working at the school and ground your expectations. You will see a mix of reviews, but pay close attention. Students generally give you inside details about their experience and parents often reveal final outcomes.
- Read blogs – Blogs are often posted on various topics and sometimes are research-based. They could give you insights on trending topics in education, as well as more information about the school’s programs, activities, and perspectives. For instance, if it is an all-boys school, you will want to know more about how they engage and motivate boys.
- Ask to speak with a parent – When requested, private schools will gladly connect you to a current or former parent. By speaking with a current parent, you can hear their child’s success stories, as well as ask some questions you might have missed during your visit. Alternatively, catch testimonials on Facebook and other review sites.
- Attend a campus event – A great way to get to know a private school is to attend campus events. Many private schools offer parades, concerts, art exhibits, alumni events, athletic games/meets, and much more. Just ask the admission office and they will tell you about upcoming events that are open to the public or by invitation.
Now you know how to find, research, and explore the wonderful world of private schools. If you do your research at the front end and then visit 2-5 schools, you will surely find the right private school for your son or daughter.