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How to Choose The Right School

1. Hire an Educational Consultant

This may sound like a cop out. After all, you can research schools just as well as anybody else can. And all the information you need is online anyway, right? Not exactly. This is the best advice I can give you. Why? Well, you wouldn’t write your own will, would you? Of course you can research schools yourself, but who’s got time for that? Since your child’s happiness and future success is at stake, pony up the funds and hire a professional educational consultant. You will appreciate the sage counsel and experience which this professional brings to the table. You can find a qualified consultant on the IECA site. Or ask a trusted attorney or other professional for the name of a consultant in your community.

2. Make a List of Schools

This is the fun part of the process. Most private schools have websites with great photo galleries and video tours. So you and your child can surf the Internet together and find plenty of schools to consider. It is a very efficient way of making that first cut. I recommend saving the schools to your Favorites as you find them. It will make a serious discussion of each school easier later on. Private School Finder has thousands of schools with their own websites. Start your search there.

It is really important that you and your child understand each others’ needs when it comes to choosing a school. By all means, guide the process. But don’t impose your ideas on your child. Otherwise she’s not going to buy into the idea of going to a private school or will be resistant to the school you think is right for her.

Discuss the schools on your list with your consultant. She will know what your chances of acceptance are for each school on your list. Then make a short list of 3 to 5 schools. Most likely your consultant will recommend choosing at least one safe school. Listen to her advice concerning applying to the more competitive schools. They really are competitive. Your child just might not make the cut at a selective school.

3. Visit Schools.

This is critical. You simply cannot rely on the opinions of others or a website to tell what a school is really like. So schedule an overnight visit for your child whenever possible. It will give her a good feel for her prospective new home away from home.

Make sure you personally visit and inspect each school on your list. The schools want to meet you and interview your child. But you need to meet the admissions staff and ask them questions too. It is very much a two way street. Do not be intimidated by the interview!

5. Admissions Testing and Applications.

Your child may be extremely smart, even gifted. But if she has not taken a couple of practice admissions tests, she will not shine on the real test. Test preparation is important. It will give her that edge she needs. Don’t skip this step.

Submit all applications materials on time. Competitive schools will have application deadlines. Stick to these. In fact, wherever possible, submit your materials a week or two early.

Don’t forget to apply for financial aid. Almost every private school offers some kind of financial aid package. Be sure to ask if you feel that you will need assistance.


Once you have submitted your applications, that’s pretty much it. Now all you have to do is to wait. Acceptance letters are sent out in March for schools with January admissions deadlines. You need to respond by an April deadline. If your child is wait listed, don’t panic. You shouldn’t have to wait too long to hear one way or the other.

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