You’ve made the big decision: it’s time to help your child find and apply to private school. You want a school that will help them grow into their full potential, that will challenge and inspire them, and that will prepare them to be a confident leader in our global society.
It’s a tall order, so you open your computer, searching for schools nearby. You scroll and click, and scroll and click, and scroll … and click … until you’re completely overwhelmed.
How can you possibly find the best option for your child with so many amazing yet different private school opportunities?
Finding the one “best-fit” school amongst the more than 34,000 private schools in the United States alone can feel like an impossible task. However, by taking a strategic, thoughtful approach to the school search process, you can easily begin to find the schools that are true contenders for that first choice.
Here are five steps you should take when trying to find and apply to the best private school for your child:
Finding your child’s best-fit school is, in reality, more about your child and your family than the school itself. You must first truly understand your child’s personality, strengths, values, and vulnerabilities to find the school that will support and address their needs.
You also need to be honest about your “must-haves.” These are the non-negotiable school aspects that can make-or-break your decision. Best-fit school must-haves may include:
Next, it’s time to gather your resources and create a list of potential schools. For this exercise, include all options to compare and contrast all of your must-haves. There are a variety of resources you can use to develop your list, such as:
Once you have a list of potential right-fit schools, it’s time to start your research. There is a lot you can find out about a school before ever stepping foot on its campus. The best places to research a school are:
Next, begin to narrow down your long list by comparing the schools you’re considering. Your goal is to pick your very top choices so that you can truly find the best fit.
Finally, it’s time to visit your top schools. If the campus is open and accepting visits, there’s no better way to experience a school than in person. However, virtual campus tours, online open houses, or events like webinars and speaker series are a good alternative and can give you more insights into a school’s approach.
Contact a school’s admissions office to ask which options are available. You can also ask for the contact information of specific department chairs, directors, and student/parent ambassadors if you’re interested in a particular perspective.
When attending any event or conversation, bring your questions! These are perfect opportunities to get any final insights you may need to make the right decision.
Once you “meet” your top schools, you should be able to identify the one that is the best fit for your child and family. Next up, it’s time to apply!