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San Diego Private School Guide 2018

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



San Diego is home to more than 300 private schools, offering a wealth of exceptional choices. Naturally, you want to make an investment that helps your child grow academically, socially, and athletically, but where do you begin when it comes to the selection process? Friends and neighbors may speak highly of a particular school and online reviews may rave, but that does not ensure a perfect fit for your family. Read on for expert advice that will help you select a learning environment where your child can thrive and ultimately excel.


Private School Ratings

Do you know how each school stacks up? Check the ratings on privateschoolreview.com to find out.

Here’s a caveat, though: Keep in mind that private schools aren’t ranked. Each is unique, so instead of trying to compare apples and oranges, take into account what individual schools offer and what would be best for your student. Things like an emphasis on STEM subjects, arts, sports, languages, religious studies, military training, or whether a school is a day school or boarding school can mean the difference.


Private School Overview

There are 5.7 million students enrolled in 33,000 private schools in the United States.

78 percent of private school students attend religiously affiliated schools.

Average private school tuition for all grades and affiliations is nearly $11,000, but elementary school tuition is lower, averaging $7,700, while K-12 tuition averages $13,640.

Nonsectarian schools are the most expensive, averaging $21,510 across all grade levels.

In Gallup polls, adults rank private schools very highly. 71 percent of more than 1,000 adults rated independent private schools “good” or “excellent,” and 63 percent rated religious private schools “good” or “excellent,” while just 55 percent of those surveyed gave the same rating to charter schools and just 44 percent rated public schools that highly.

Source: Council for American Private Education


School Tour Checklist

You’ve done your research. You’ve talked to as many people as possible, including current and former students and their families. Now you’re finally going to tour the campus. Here’s what to ask:

  • How does the school’s curriculum compare to that of public schools?
  • What does tuition cost and what are the options for scholarships and payment plans?
  • What sports are available and what are the requirements for students?
  • What community service activities are required of students?
  • Fees for books, uniforms, and sports equipment can add up. What will you be responsible for?
  • What are the class sizes?
  • How is college prep built into the curriculum?



By the Numbers

San Diego County

305 Private schools

57,741 Private school students

33% Minority enrollment

14:1 Student-to-teacher ratio

51% Religiously affiliated schools


The City of San Diego

103 Private schools

$17,371 Average private high school tuition

37% Minority enrollment

85% Acceptance rate

53% Religiously affiliated schools

Source: Private School Review


Average Acceptance Rates in California

Total: 84%

High School: 79%

Elementary School: 86%



Getting In:

  • Start the process 18 months before the desired school year begins.
  • International students might need six months more.
  • Your student should take the SSAT, ISEE, or other required tests. Consider tutoring or other test prep courses to boost scores.
  • Visit the school. This can include a tour of the grounds, sitting in on classes, or even spending a night on campus.
  • Make a checklist for completing the application. There are many steps to each school’s application process.
  • Your student will likely need teachers’ recommendations, school transcripts, writing samples, and test scores.
  • Consider hiring a consultant to help with choosing and applying to the right school.


Online Resources

National Center for Education Statistics
This site hosts a wealth of information about education, including facts, stats, assessments, international programs, school searches, and more.

Private School Review
This comprehensive website provides free, detailed profiles of private schools and their surrounding communities. The site evaluates schools relative to each other and to statewide private school averages for several key criteria.

The National Association of Independent Schools
Start here for a complete guide to private schooling, including how to find the right school for your child, understanding the ins and outs of the application process, and information on applying for financial aid.

California Association of Independent Schools
Check out more than 200 independent schools around our state that belong to California Association of Independent Schools (CAISCA), with rankings and helpful tips to help choose the right school.

Great Schools
This website’s database includes more than 200,000 schools and one million community-generated reviews of schools, as well as features like brain-building exercises and lots of useful information for parents.

This online directory provides an easily searchable database of more than 30,000 private schools nationwide, preschool through grade 12.

Council for American Private Education
The Council for American Private Education, a coalition of national organizations and state affiliates serving private elementary and secondary schools, keeps you up to date with private school news and trends.


San Diego Private Schools Guide

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