Updated: Aug 16, 2022
In my role as a school consultant, I serve families as an unbiased advocate seeking the best academic extracurricular and social match for students. The overall goal is to support families in determining the best fit school for their child. In this blog I am going to share some tips on getting started with your school search.
First determine what types of schools your family is interested in:
Private independent schools - These are fee-charging schools, typically governed by an elected broad and head of school. They do not receive government funding but they do offer financial aid to families that qualify. There are various types of private schools. Average class sizes can range from 5 to 16 students per classroom.
Catholic Schools - These are Christian parochial schools administered by adherents of the Catholic Church. Usually the tuition for Catholic schools is less than private independent schools and the class sizes are a bit larger. The schools include religious education in their curriculum.
Charter Schools - A Charter school is a school that receives government funding but operates independently of the state schools systems. Note: Not all states offer charter school alternatives.
Also when determining the types of school, you should make a list of the basics:
Day School or Boarding School
Single Sex or Coed
Interested in Reclassing (repeating current grade)
Interests (Music, Art, Services, Sports, STEM)
Research schools to learn about the 3 C’s: Curriculum, Culture and Commitment to students.
Visit schools to experience their environment first-hand and begin to establish a relationship with admissions staff. If you can’t visit the school in person, visit virtually.
A General Timeline for researching and applying to PK-12 Schools
July - September
Establish school list
Meet with current school (if this applies) guidance counselor to request coordination of transcript and recommendations (kindness goes a long way)
September - December
Visit Schools, including virtually
Take standardized tests (during covid-19 most schools did not require testing or administer in-house tests)
Submit recommendations forms to teachers
Complete necessary financial aid paperwork
January - February
Application deadlines (check dates for individual schools and locations)
A complete application typically includes:
Visit and Interview
Parent & Student Questionnaire (including Essays)
Teacher Recommendations (current Math & English teachers)
Recommendations from current school administrator
Standardized Test Scores (if they are requiring them, covid-19 changed some things)
Transcript (generally the past two years)
February - March
Decisions are released by schools
April - May
If accepted - Attend revisit days
If waitlisted and still interested let the school know via email to the admissions office
Reply by deadline to accept the school's offer of admission
Yes, it's a lot of work but as a parent you are preparing your child/student for future success that involves more than learning algebra and parts of speech. Most private schools teach students how to innovate, create, explore, solve problems and self-advocate. These are just a few benefits of enrolling your child in a private school. The smaller class sizes, music and art programs are another. If you don’t know where to start, visit these association websites: The Association of Boarding Schools and National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).