Students in private schools score better across almost all subjects. Especially for high-stakes exams like the SAT, which can determine whether or not your student gets accepted to a top tier university, it’s worthwhile to note that students in private schools consistently out-perform their public school peers. College prep school prepares your student for college. If you already have a sense of the advantages a college preparatory school might provide your child, you may have begun the search for the right school. As you consider your options be sure to think about what will be the best fit for your child, your family, and the future you envision for your young learner.
1. Look for Value Alignment
Any school you choose needs to align with the values you’ve already instilled in your child. Whether they attend boarding school or day school, in-person or online, one with or without a religious affiliation, your student should choose an institution that espouses the same values you do.
2. Examine Academic Rigor
One of the top reasons to consider a college prep school is to ensure that your child will have access to a curriculum that is both deep and broad with rigorous academics and high expectations. Review the school’s educational philosophy and take a close look at its curriculum for various grade levels. There should be a clear distinction between what your child learns in the 7th grade and what they experience as a senior in high school readying themselves for college.
In addition to required courses in English, literature, rhetoric, composition, history, STEM, and the arts, look for courses that challenge your child to dig deeply and develop critical thinking skills. Courses in ethics, philosophy, and entrepreneurship can help them explore who they are and who they have the potential to become. Especially as they advance in grade level, you’ll want to see more challenging courses that gradually introduce college-level content. Courses in business, economics, and finance can help them decide if they may want to pursue a business major. Advanced courses in biology and chemistry may light a fire in your student and inspire a career in medicine. World languages can broaden their worldview and help them embrace diversity. And ￼passion projects can truly transform the way they look at learning and life.
3. Review Instructor Credentials
Your student spends a lot of time in school with adults you do not know. Don’t you think you should? At a minimum, you want to be sure that they are well-qualified educators, of sound moral character, with a passion for the job they do and for the growth of the students they teach. Look for faculty bios on a school website or ask to speak to actual teachers. Particularly for courses on either end of the spectrum—in subjects in which your student typically fares well or poorly—you’ll want to know if their teachers will support your child in their efforts to find success.
4. Ask About Student-to-Teacher Ratio
The true benefit of excellent faculty can only be realized if your student is able to spend time with those dedicated professionals. Both in a classroom setting—whether in-person or online—and in office hours, teachers can impart subject matter expertise, along with invaluable life lessons. Another reason to understand the philosophy of the school is to ensure that its teachers will be the kind of mentors you would be happy to have in your child’s life.
5. Assess Institutional Results
You invest in a private school education to provide your child with an exemplary education and give your student an advantage in the college admissions process. Don’t hesitate to ask school administrators about their track record. How many of their students go on to attend their first-choice college? How many are accepted to top-tier institutions? Does the school have historical data on the kinds of careers and lives their alumni have long after they graduate?
6. Visit the School
Before your child applies to a college prep school, go for a visit. For boarding and day schools, do it in person. If it’s an online school, attend an info session or take a virtual tour. On the other hand, even online prep schools are often affiliated with brick-and-mortar schools. It may be a worthwhile adventure to take a trip to see the parent school. Particularly for schools with long histories, those deep roots may speak to a prestigious reputation that stems from a 100-year legacy of excellence and innovation. Online offerings may be proof, they still are.
7. Discover Its Passion for Teaching and Learning
Throughout your research, look for an academic setting that will instill in your student a lifelong love of learning. If they already have a curious mind, you don’t want to do anything to impede their innate abilities. If that passion for knowledge is just blossoming, you want a school that will nurture your child, help them grow, and reach their full potential.
There is much to consider as you prepare your child’s application to a private college prep school. As you research your options, be sure to look at Gravitas, the online extension of the prestigious Stony Brook School on Long Island in New York. If you want the excellence ensured by a more than 100-year history of academics combined with the convenience of virtual learning, Gravitas is your choice. View our information session and contact us directly for more information about our programs and admission process.