Private School

admin Apr/ 22/ 2019 0

Private schools are tuition-driven and the competition among schools to attract qualified students is great. School information, however, is often condensed into short brochures and carefully staged “open house” events that fail to answer important questions for parents and guardians being asked to pay thousands of dollars in tuition, books, and other operating fees. The commitment to enroll a child in private school will directly impact the college admissions process and, ultimately, career choices. It is not unreasonable to follow a check-list that addresses questions often overlooked.

Student Numbers, Diversity, and Graduation

Parents considering a tuition-based school must begin with the most basic question: to what extent is the school better than the public school option? Some questions to put on a check-list include:

  • How many students apply for admission each year and how many transfer to another school before graduation?
  • How diverse is the student body? Percentages should include male-female ratios as well as the percentage of minority students.
  • How diverse is the faculty?
  • What is the actual teacher-student ratio, calculated to exclude all non-teaching staff.
  • How many students attend college after graduation and what colleges do they attend? Some private schools list “colleges our graduates were accepted at,” but this does not give an accurate picture.

Classes, Teachers, and College Opportunities

  • Does the school follow state-mandated learning standards?
  • Are any courses required that are not part of state standards? If so, can a student opt-out of such classes?
  • Are teachers certified by the state? If not, what certification methods, if any, are utilized?
  • What tutoring exists as part of the regular educational process?
  • How many college-credit courses are taught, such as Advanced Placement courses, and how does the selection compare to other private school options as well as public school options?
  • How many special education professionals are on staff and what is the ratio of such professionals to enrolled students with special needs?
  • Is technology student or faculty oriented and how current is the technology?

The Campus and Financial Security

  • How secure is the school facility?
  • Does the school maintain security cameras both within the facility and on any outdoor areas such as the parking lot and athletic fields?
  • Who watches the security footage during the school day?
  • Does the school have an endowment?
  • Is there an alumni association and, if so, how successful is it in securing on-going alumni support?

Private schools frequently used athletics to attract students, emphasizing full programs that allow for greater student participation than found in public schools with large student populations. “Going out” for a sport may be easier, but getting on a team is no guarantee of actual playing time. Additionally, private school leagues may be more scattered, involving lengthy driving time and missed classes at the end of a school day.

Private schools are an excellent educational investment. There are many pros and cons to a non-public education. Once parents seriously consider a private school, however, they must be prepared to justify tuition. This means asking the right questions before enrolling a student.