Whether you have a kindergartner or a high school student, you’re looking for a learning environment where they can reach their potential. You know that students can easily get lost in the shuffle at large public schools, and you’re looking for a place where your child will be truly known and mentored. For many families, these desires lead to exploring private school options.
You’re not alone! Every parent wants their child to succeed academically, discover and develop their talents, and be surrounded by a positive, supportive community. But private education comes with financial considerations, and often, parents aren’t sure how much it will impact their family’s lifestyle.
Moving from a free option such as public school, or a lower cost option like homeschooling, is a big adjustment. And, as you may have already discovered, there is a wide price range for private education options. You might be wondering:
How do you determine a school’s value?
Can you ever really know what the return on your investment will be?
What is the best way to choose between multiple private school options?
We’re here to answer your top questions about affordability so that you can move forward in your private school search with confidence. Here are three important questions to ask as you explore school options:
What’s included in tuition?
When evaluating private school options, it’s helpful to ask specific questions about what’s included in the cost of tuition, extracurricular opportunities, and special services your child might not find elsewhere. When parents consider these factors that add value, the tuition becomes an investment rather than a cost.
- Individual attention from teachers. A school with smaller class sizes means your child will get individualized academic support from teachers who know their learning style.
- Tailored academics. From differentiated instruction to tailored electives that equip students with career-specific skills, a personalized experience is invaluable.
- Technology integration. Today’s students are preparing for jobs that don’t yet exist. A strong background in coding is essential for success.
- Quality extracurriculars. Every student should have the opportunity to participate in athletics, the arts, and interest-based clubs.
- College prep. College prep should be a highly personalized experience, for students and parents alike. Look for an intentional process beginning in 9th grade (or earlier).
- Travel opportunities. Exciting field trips in the early years and overseas travel as a teen are irreplaceable learning opportunities that create lifelong memories.
Will private school education be worth it long-term?
A simple Google search will point you to countless articles highlighting the positive outcomes of private education, but every family measures ROI differently. When evaluating school options, consider asking specific questions about the student experience and outcomes. A few ideas include:
- Do students feel seen, heard, and understood?
- Do students feel safe, and do their parents feel peace of mind when their children are at school?
- How prepared do your students feel for college?
- How prepared do parents of high school students feel for the college admissions process?
- What is your college admission rate, and where do students matriculate?
- What types of careers do they pursue?
- What is the mindset of the typical graduate, and what values inform this mindset?
How can I be sure I’m investing in the right private school?
While you can evaluate a school’s educational philosophy and unique offerings online, most families find that it is during their campus tour that they feel confident moving forward with the financial commitment of a private school. There are both tangible and intangible factors that are best experienced when you are immersed in the learning community. Here are a few ways to get the most out of your tour:
- Pay attention during the entry process: Does the campus feel safe and secure? Are the staff members warm, welcoming and helpful? What type of check-in system exists for visitors?
- Peek into classrooms: Are the learning spaces inviting and well organized? Do the students look happy and engaged? Are teachers passionate about their work? Do class sizes feel optimal?
- Take notes on your personal observations: What is the energy like as you walk through the halls? Will my child feel a sense of belonging here?
- Listen closely as you talk with members of the school community: What messages do you hear about the school’s philosophy and core values? Does it feel like an extension of your home? And what is the school’s vision for the future?
By answering these questions and, if touring multiple schools, comparing notes, you’ll have a good sense of what kind of returns you’ll see on your investment in private education.