Exploring private/independent school options for your child is an exciting time for families. To get the most out of the experience, begin with a plan. You’ll know which questions to ask along the way, and be better able to identify your priorities when choosing the best fit for your child and your family.
Step 1. Define your ideal educational experience for your child.
What goals do you have for your child that would be nurtured through the right school environment? Draft your list, knowing that you may make revisions as your research progresses.
Step 2. Research schools in your area by utilizing online resources
Begin with a Google search using general terms such as: “best independent school near me” or “Pre-Kindergarten near Marblehead.” Make a list of schools to research.
Frequent the schools’ websites and social media accounts to learn about curriculum, educational philosophy, school culture and alumni engagement.
Browse data from review sites such as niche.com
What to look for:
- School mission statements: How well does a school's mission align with your goals for your child’s education?
- Student body: Consider class size, student-to-teacher ratios and total enrollment. A larger population may mean more social opportunities, but a smaller school may provide more chances for your child to shine.
- Matriculation List: Read the list of secondary schools to which graduating students are accepted. Plan to ask how the curriculum and teaching philosophy helps students achieve their academic successes.
- Affordability: Learn about affordability options, including scholarships, tuition assistance, 529 plan use, and family gifting. Know what each school’s tuition covers (laptops, athletics, school supplies, books, bus transportation, etc).
- Diversity and Inclusivity: Understand the schools’ priorities regarding diversity and inclusivity. If a diverse learning environment is on your list, plan to inquire about the diversity of families who create the school’s community.
- Learning Differences: Many schools offer advanced pace classes and academic support to students. Parents should discuss their child’s anticipated needs with the Director of Admission during the application process.
- Reviews: Find out what current families like about the school.
Step 3. Schedule a visit to schools that meet your criteria for your child and family.
To get the most out of your campus visit, schedule tours during the school day while classes are in session and teachers and administrators are available for conversation. Also, inquire about application and tuition assistance deadlines. Schools may have a fixed application deadline, rolling admission or a combination of the two.
Step 4. Compare schools, reflect on your hopes for your child's educational experience and apply to your top school(s).
This is also a great time to do some personal research by speaking with parents whose children have attended the school(s) on your list. If you’re new to the area, ask the Admission Director to connect you with a few families. Fellow parents can provide invaluable insight.
Step 5. Re-visit.
Waiting for your child’s admission decision letter from school(s) can take a few weeks. Take advantage of this time by attending a few school events such as a curriculum presentation, a student concert or an all-school assembly. Ask to meet current families and follow the school on social media. You’ll see more of the school experience, and have time to imagine your family as future members of the school community.
You're ready! You’ve done your research. You know which school best aligns with your goals for your child’s educational and personal growth. When the admission decision letters arrive, you’ll be prepared for the enrollment decision and ready to begin an exciting journey with your child.