Evaluating Schools

Here we’ll provide you with information on evaluating boarding schools. From comparing schools to identifying language and sports programs, our articles will help you make an informed decision. Learn the best approach to compare schools, get tips on creating a spreadsheet, and determine where to find the data.
View the most popular articles in Evaluating Schools:
Updated   January 05, 2016 |
Frank Bruni: Why Fit Matters Most
Parents considering schools should read New York Times columnist Frank Bruni's book about college admissions entitled Where You Go Is Not Who You Will Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania. Much of what he says applies in the private K-12 world.
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni has written a very useful book about college admissions entitled Where You Go Is Not Who You Will Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania. Obviously, as you can see from the title, Bruni's audience is parents, and possibly students, who are thinking about and applying to college. Yet as I read the book, I began to see many similarities between the private K-12 school admissions process and the college admissions process. I suggest that you read this book which will clarify your thinking as you go through the process of selecting a private school for your child. Bruni's insights will also prepare you for the months and years ahead when you and your child will be dealing with the mysteries of college admissions. In the meantime let's look at some of the things about college admissions which Frank Bruni points out which are remarkably similar to what we will find in private school admissions.
 
Treatment of legacies
 
Affirmative Action for the Rich: Legacy Preferences in College Admissions by Richard D. Kahlenberg and The Price of Admission by Daniel Golden are two additional books which you should read about legacy admissions. These authors go into great detail and cite many sources to support their arguments.
 
What is a legacy? A legacy is an applicant to a school who has a relative or relatives who attended the same school. You will find legacies in both private K-12 schools as well as at the college
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Updated   July 26, 2017 |
 Have You Checked All the Boxes?
As you work your way through the process of choosing the right boarding school for your child, you will find it very easy to get side-tracked. Nothing wrong with getting side-tracked. Just make sure that you get yourself back on track. There are three to five schools for you to visit. Lots of observations, evaluations, assessments and questions. Make sure that you have checked all the boxes.
 
___1. Location
 
The location of the boarding schools on your list is important simply because travel these days is never easy. Review the logistics involved carefully. Ideally you don't want to be more than a couple of hours from the school.  That may seem unrealistic but practically speaking it is not. For example, there are dozens of schools within an hour of Boston's Logan Airport. From there you can get to many major metropolitan areas within two hours. Incidentally, those New England boarding schools are old hands at transferring students from campus to airport. Those are precision operations honed over many years so that just about every travel eventuality is thought of. Naturally, cellphones make communications with you waiting anxiously on the other end much easier than they were back when my daughters went to boarding school. So draw a circle 60-120 miles out from any major airport. If boarding schools fall within the circle, you should be all set.
 
___2. Academics
 
Once you have more or less decided where you are looking for schools, then you can begin to get granular with that very important
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Updated   May 26, 2016 |
Choosing a School: Which school offers.....?
Determining which programs are 'must haves' is an important part of choosing the right boarding school for your child.
As you begin to refine your boarding school search, one of the things you will find yourself doing is circling back to find out which schools offer the programs your child wants and needs. Remember: you and your child need to discuss your wants and needs together. That way you will end up with a child who is enthusiastic about going to private school and feels that she has been involved in the process. Unlike the limited options which you will find in most public schools these days, private schools offer a rich array of programs.
 
Foreign languages
 
Mandarin, Spanish, French and Italian are the most common languages offered in private schools. You will find these most often at the high school level but they are increasingly common in the primary grades. If you really want to kick it up a notch, there are several private schools which actually teach everything in French, German and Hebrew, for example. Review the curriculum section of school web sites to determine what language courses are offered. You can find schools quickly by inputting "chinese language" as a search string on this site.
 
What about classical languages such as Latin and Greek? Latin is still to be found on course lists in many schools. Classical Greek is not as common. If a world view is important to you, then review carefully the language component at the schools which interest you. Being fluent in a language or two is increasingly important.
 
Science.Technology.Engineering.Mathematics
 
If STEM is your thing,
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Updated   May 24, 2016 |
Is Boarding School Right for Your Child?
Are you wondering whether boarding school is right for your child? Answer these five questions and you will be better able to determine whether it is.

Is boarding school right for your child? Answer these questions to help you make that important decision.

1. Do you want to stretch your child?

If you are content with the status quo, then boarding school is probably not a good idea. Why? Because by going to boarding school your child will be embarking on an incredible adventure. She will be exposed to all kinds of new ideas and different points of view. She will be able to select academic courses which will enrich and challenge her. She will be in small classes where she cannot hide in the corner. Her opinion and ideas will matter. Her strengths will be expanded. Her weaknesses will be addressed in a positive environment.

The stretching occurs because she will simply do more academic work at boarding school than if she were in a public school with its large classes. Moreover, the students who attend boarding school want to be there.

2. Do you want her to have sports opportunities fall, winter and spring?

It's a major difference between public and private schools. Stories about public school budgets being cut are everywhere. The first things to get cut are sports, arts and extracurricular programs. They are often considered extras. Not at a boarding school.

Boarding schools have long subscribed to the idea that education works best when there is balance. Academics, sports and the extracurricular activities which are part of every boarding school's program make this philosophy work very well.

3. Do

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Updated   September 28, 2017 |
Choosing a School: Comparing Schools
Use a spreadsheet to develop your initial list of schools. Here's how.
At some point in the process of choosing schools for your child, you will have to engage in the exercise of comparing certain criteria. As much as private schools can be compared – for they really can't be compared – you still need to keep track of basic information which matters to you and to your consultant.
 
This video explains how to use Google Spreadsheets.

Basics like tuition costs, acceptance rate, dress code which matter to you should be part of the spreadsheet you set up to compare schools. We are using three schools for purposes of this illustration. But you probably will want to have as many as 10-15 schools in your first group. Once that is done you can begin to eliminate the schools which don't suit your requirements as you begin to develop a short list of schools to visit and examine more closely.

 

 

Where do you get the data? It's very easy to find on this site. On the splash page near the top is a drop-down menu titled Comparisons. Choose any criterion you like. Then click on schools which interest you. All the data you need is listed for you in each school's profile.

Here's an example of what your spreadsheet could look like. We have chosen basic data but you can list whatever criteria matter to you in the first column of the spreadsheet.

 

 

 
Exeter
Andover
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