Do you know what questions to ask when considering private schools? Here are some questions to help you make a reasoned decision about a private school that meets your and your child’s educational, developmental, and financial needs.

You may need to reshape or tweak some of the questions to fit your particular situation. Some of the questions you may wish to ask directly to school personnel, and others you may find the answers to in other ways.

1.  Consider your child or children.

  • What is the state of my child's academic development?
  • What is the state of my child's social development, including behavior?
  • What is the state of my child's emotional development?
  • What is the state of my child's physical development?
  • What is my child's personality like?
  • What talents and needs does my child have?
  • How does my child learn best?
  • What does my child want for his or her schooling?

2.  Consider your financial situation.

  • How much can I/we afford to pay for a school?
  • What changes, if any, will we need to make in our handling of money?
  • Is financial aid or scholarship funds available?
  • Does the school have any payment plans available?

3.  Consider the school.

  • Accreditation - Does the private school have the qualifications I/we would wish? Will this school's credits be accepted at my child's next level of schooling or in his or her future career? 
  • Offerings - Do the private school's offerings meet my child's needs now? Are they likely to meet my child's needs in the future? Are the texts up-to-date, well-cared for, and appropriate? Are there enough materials for all the students? Are there suitable and interesting extra-curricular activities, guided or run by qualified individuals? What is the athletics and physical education programs like? Are suitable accommodations, support, or enhancements available for my child? 
  • Facility - Are the facilities large enough for the current student body? Are buildings properly warmed/cooled? Are materials, technology, equipment, and any other educational accoutrements available, up-to-date, and well cared for? Are any accommodations that my child might need available (i.e., handicapped accessible, etc.)? 
  • Student Body and Faculty - What is the student/faculty ratio (be carefulâ€"some institutions give this ratio and some give the faculty/student ratio)? What are the staff qualifications? What kind of professional development is available to the staff? 
  • Financial Situation - Does the school's annual report satisfy me that it is a well-run business? 
  • Day School or Residential School - Where will my child live during the school year? Are the accommodations comfortable and conducive to study, rest, and a healthy social and recreational life? Is the food well-prepared, nutritious, and suitable for my child, if my child has special food needs? Does my child like the food? 
  • Governance - Who is running the school and what are his/her/their qualifications? What are the school's academic policies? What are the school's disciplinary policies? What are the school's graduation policies? What are the school's guiding lights/mission/goals? How is the school organized (i.e., graded/ungraded/multiage classrooms)? Is what I see claimed or stated in the school's literature actually true in fact? 
  • Graduates - Do the graduates indicate that the school's goals are being achieved? What do graduates go on to? Are they successful? 
  • Parents - Are parents who have made the choice you are considering happy with their decision? What concerns or complaints to parents have about the school?

Written by Mary Elizabeth