Finding the Right Match

Before visiting your first school, sit down with your family and determine your "ideal" educational community:

  • Is it small or large?
  • Traditional or progressive?
  • Coeducational or single-sex?
  • A day school or a boarding school?
  • What special programs (arts, sports, computers) does it offer?
  • Is a diverse school community important to you and your family?
  • Does your child have special needs or interests?

Remember, this is just a starting point. You can amend the list as you move through the selection process.


Questions To Ask When Narrowing Your Choice

Choosing the right school for your child is likely the most important single decision you might make in terms of setting the proper path and direction for life: A little preparation and research on the part of parents at the access point will go miles toward making the ultimate destination clear at the exit ramp. Here are some questions to start with as you look through each school's materials:

  • Is the school accredited and by whom?
  • What is the school's mission and does its philosophy appeal to you?
  • Does the school have a special or particular educational focus?
  • Are academics rigorous?
  • Is the environment competitive? Nurturing? Are there high expectations?
  • Does the school meet your child's needs?
  • How large is the school and its student body?
  • Where is the school located and what are your transportation options?
  • What variety of learning experiences are available at the school -- in class, on the playing field, in extracurricular activities, and in community service? Are extracurricular activities obligatory?
  • Does the school seem to have a diverse student body and faculty?
  • Do the school materials discuss parental involvement?
  • For high schools, what are the graduation requirements? What percentage of students enter colleges -- and what kind of colleges do they attend?
  • Is college counseling effective (look at rates at which school grads achieve their first and second college choices.)
  • What is the tuition and how flexible are the school's financing options?
  • What is the school's application process? Are deadlines drawing near?

When looking at a school's accountability, look at where its graduates go to college and what their graduation rates are at those colleges.