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2018 San Diego Private School Guide

A guide for selecting the best educational options for your child's unique needs


View the print version here


How Popular is Private?

According to two January 2017 studies released by  Education Next, private school parents are significantly more satisfied with the schools their children attend than parents from other sectors, including public charter schools and public district schools. A preference for private was noted among millenials as well; according to a national poll released by EdChoice, 43 percent said they would select a private school (including independent, parochial, and religious); 28 percent would choose a regular public school; 13 percent a home school; and 8 percent said they would choose a charter school.

Source: Council for American Private Education


Should You Hire a Consultant?

Finding the right school is no easy task. In general, expect to invest about 50–60 hours doing your own research, plus the time it takes to schedule and complete visits and interviews. For some busy families, the right solution may be hiring an educational consultant. These individuals are paid to match your child’s admissions profile to schools that will be a good fit with your requirements—saving you time and frustration. The Independent Educational Consultants Association has a list of well- qualified consultants to help you get started at iecaonline.com.


Did You Know?

  • There are 104 private schools in San Diego county, serving 23,333 students.
  • The average private school tuition is $8,395 for elementary schools and $17,088 for high schools.
  • The average acceptance rate is 86 percent.
  • Minority enrollment is 36 percent of the student body, and the student/teacher ratio is 13:1. 54 percent of these schools are religiously affiliated.
Source: Private Schools Review


Parents’ Top Six

When you consider your reasons for choosing a private school education, many parents cite a desire to give their children every possible academic advantage. Here’s a list of other popular reasons parents choose private:

  • The child’s happiness
  • High-caliber teaching
  • Challenging curriculum
  • Sports programs
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Opportunity for parental involvement



Think Big Picture

If your children are in kindergarten or elementary school, your selection criteria for a private school will be quite different than if your child is entering middle school or high school. Some private schools offer a K-12 campus, which can be ideal if you have multiple children. Just remember to tour the separate classrooms, meet with teachers at each campus, and be mindful of the evolving academic and extracurricular needs at each grade level.


Ask What’s Expected of You

A school has to be a great fit not just for your child, but also for your family. Ask what’s expected in terms of parental involvement. Is there a PTA and are volunteer hours required? What about field trips—are parents required to chaperone? If you can, talk to families who send students to the schools you’re considering. Ask about their experiences (both good and bad), and about what makes the school a good fit (or not) for them.


Explore Your Options

Once you’ve made a list of schools that meet your criteria, you’ll want to schedule tours. To make the most of your time, jot down key questions in advance:

  • What curriculum does the school use and how does it compare to public education guidelines?
  • What are the tuition payment options?
  • What emphasis is placed on athletics?
  • Are community service hours required?
  • What are the additional fees (uniforms, books, technology/ sports fees)?
  • What is the student/teacher ratio and class size?
  • What type of college prep courses are offered?
Source: Private Schools Review


Check the Ratings

You’ve toured the school, met the administrators, and even spoken with a few families who attend the campus. Before making a decision, you may want to look up the school’s data on an impartial website like privateschoolreview.com or private-schools.startclass.com. You can contrast and compare stats on various schools within a defined search function like city or zip code to help you make an informed choice.


Funding a Private Education

Most private schools maintain a limited number of scholarships and financial aid funds. It is best to check in early with the administrators to find out about the application process and deadlines. Also, ask whether the school has partnerships with any other groups or associations that can offer tuition assistance. The types of financial aid generally available for private schools are need-based assistance, merit awards, tuition payment plans, and tuition loan programs.


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