One of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is the gift of education. Choosing between a private and a public education is an important decision for many families. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 10 percent of students in the US, or more than 5 million, in grades pre-K through 12th attend private schools.
San Diego is home to more than 300 private schools, meaning there’s a wealth of options when it comes to finding the right educational experience.
For those considering a private education, here’s a road map.
Why Private School?
The higher teacher-to-student ratios are just one reason parents might want to consider private school for their kids. Independent institutions are free to create innovative curricula to turn out adaptable students capable of confronting a fast-changing, complex world. In a time of thin public school budgets, private schools continue to offer robust programs in the arts, from classical music to digital animation.
Each school has its own culture that often goes well beyond classroom lessons to emphasize character development and encourage students to consider their own morals, ethics, and values. In schools with limited enrollment, parents can take heart that their students will be understood and taught as individuals with varying capabilities and needs. The universe of private schools offers many choices for parents seeking specific attributes, like single-sex education, religious teachings, or certain athletics.
Teachers at these schools also tend to be highly qualified professionals and subject-matter experts, more akin to college professors. At most private schools, preparing for college is a focus from day one. Test prep and strong standardized test scores are just the beginning—essay writing and critical-thinking skills will serve students long after they’re accepted to the schools of their choice.
What’s Trending in Private Education
Teachers are experimenting with, and customizing, the educational experience to fit future needs and student interests.
Students as Change Agents
Even before they can tie their shoes, many of today’s students know that the world needs leaders. Educators are empowering them from the earliest ages to develop a vision for change rather than fit into a flawed system. Grade schools and high schools are spurring students to be leaders, with programs in environmental education and outdoor experiential learning, among other timely options.
Project-based learning goes beyond your average high school research paper and often resembles the self-directed, individualized study students engage in on the graduate-school level. Giving students latitude in choosing a focus and exposing them to a wide array of material can help them identify their talents and interests.
With the right frame of mind, anything is possible. Educators seek to give students tools, rather than answers, and instill in them the the belief that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.
By the Numbers
San Diego Statistics
Finding the Right School
When it comes to deciding which private school is best for your child, don’t be shy about asking questions to determine whether a school’s values and priorities are similar to your own. Likewise, if a school requires an interview, make sure to prepare. Here are a few tips on how to navigate the admissions process.
- Bring a list of questions. Ask about class size, art programs, languages taught, parent involvement, extracurricular programs, academic support programs, and classroom technology.
- Audit a class. Most schools will allow you to sit in on a class so you can get a sense of teaching styles and the classroom environment.
- Connect with families of current students. This is a good way to get an insider’s perspective on the community within the school.
- Listen to your child’s concerns and opinions. Sometimes what appears to be the perfect school is actually better for the parent than the child.
- Hire an educational consultant. These experts can help determine the right school for your child.
- Coach your child. Admission committees are looking for curious minds and students who are truly interested in learning. Your child should express enthusiasm for, and knowledge about, the school she is applying to, so be sure to give her the appropriate information to shine in the interview.
By the Numbers
This site hosts a wealth of information about education, including facts, stats, assessments, international programs, school searches, and more.
This comprehensive website provides free, detailed profiles of private schools and their surrounding communities. The site evaluates schools relative to one another and to statewide private school averages for several key criteria.
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.
Check out more than 200 independent schools around our state that belong to the California Association of Independent Schools (CAISCA), with rankings and helpful tips to help choose the right school.
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. ESchoolSearch ï eschoolsearch.com 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 ï capenet.org 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 Prive Schools Guide
Ten Questions to Ask on Your Next Private School Tour
You’ve scoured the Internet. You’ve asked around your social circle. You’re reading this guide. But no matter how much research you’ve done, nothing gives you better insight into what a school is like as much as an in-person tour of your top choices.
Nonprofit GreatSchools.org suggests asking the following questions on your tour:
- Does the school have an educational philosophy or mission?
- What is the average class size?
- What is the school’s homework philosophy?
- What is the school’s approach to student discipline and safety?
- How is technology used to support teaching and learning?
- How do the arts fit into the curriculum?
- What extracurricular activities are offered?
- Is bullying a problem and does the school have an anti-bullying policy?
- What professional development opportunities are there for teachers?
- What are some of the school’s greatest accomplishments and biggest challenges?