Determine why you want to send your child to a private high school. Develop a list of schools which you think meet your requirements. Visit them. Fill out all the applications materials. Figure out how to pay for it. Those are the basic steps for choosing a school.
Why are you thinking of sending your child to a private high school? The public schools in your area are pretty good, but there is talk of cutting staff and programs due to the economic downturn. Will private schools fare any better? Is sending her to a private high school really worth the extra money? What are the academics like? Will they help my child who struggles with a learning disability? Once you answer questions like these, you will be ready to discuss the kind of school you are looking for.
This first step in choosing the right high school for your child is so important. You absolutely have to discuss the idea with your child. You may have a clear idea of what you are looking for. But your teenager will have other ideas. You need to have some dialog with him about high school and college and careers and how those three things fit together.
Does your daughter ride horses? Is your son a really good hockey player? Does the school have to be in your town? Are you thinking about boarding school? Are you looking for a school which will help remediate your son's dyslexia? These and many other questions are ones you need to ask yourself. Get really granular and detailed with those requirements.That will help you develop a short list of schools worth a closer look.
The internet makes it fairly easy to gather information about schools. Many schools even have online tours. Request the schools' admissions materials online too. If you have questions, call the Admissions Office. It will save you time and help narrow your choices. At the end of this step you should have a list of 10-15 schools.
In the previous steps you made a list of all the schools which you thought met your requirements. Now you need to narrow down that list to 3-5 schools. These are the schools which will merit a closer look and a visit. This step takes some time and thoughtful discussion with you, your child, your educational consultant and other trusted advisers.
You must visit the schools on your short list. The online tour or an interview with admissions staff on the phone does not allow you to experience the school. Remember: you are selecting a school which will mold and shape your child for the rest of your life. You need to meet the molders and shapers. You need to experience the culture and observe a class or two if possible. Only then will you be able to determine whether the school is a good fit.
Most schools will require applicants to take a standardized test. The SSAT and ISEE are the most common independent school admissions tests. You will find COOP, HSPT and TACHS used for Catholic high school admissions testing. The best advice we can give is to work lots of practice tests so that there are no surprises on test day. You will know what to expect.
You can apply at many schools online. You will also find all the forms you need online as well if you prefer to complete your application by hand. Many schools also use a common application form which saves much time and trouble. The admissions staff will explain their specific procedures to you.