Life Events

Life events pose a unique challenge because each is a new or infrequent occurrence for which many people have little or no prior experience.

When it comes to parenting, you have the knowledge of your own childhood to draw upon. However, try as you might, it is unlikely that today's children will think the same, act the same, and face the same challenges as you.

In these circumstances, a little dose of commonsense advice can help

Here is our advice on these topics.
/ Parenting / Raising Children /

Choosing a High School
When choosing a high school for your child, first identify the major criteria on which you will base your decision. The same factors apply whether you are choosing among private schools, among public schools (if you have a choice in your area) or between public and private education. If you want your child prepared for college, consider these:

  • The school's track record in college placement - What colleges are graduates of the last 4 classes attending, and how many are at each college? If you are interested in specific colleges, also look for data on how many letters of acceptance they sent to applicants from this high school over the last 4 years.
  • Career achievement by alumni - Ask for statistics about the distribution of alumni by profession, and the proportion of alumni who hold advanced degrees (masters and doctorates). Do prominent people in your area disproportionately come from a particular school? Do the graduates of a given school consistently seem to be a "cut above" your other neighbors and business associates? Ask alumni about what affect the school had on their lives.
  • Curriculum - Look for a school that develops core skills in writing, public speaking, calculating with numbers and thinking logically. Inquire about median standardized test scores, such as SAT, SAT II, and Advanced Placement (AP) as a measure of the school's academic quality. The proportion of students taking AP exams and earning qualifying scores (3 or higher on a scale of 1-5) is another indicator to check.
  • Faculty credentials - Do most faculty members hold masters' degrees or just bachelors'? What is the average experience of the faculty both in total years teaching high school and in years at their current school?
  • Faculty to student ratio, or class size - All else equal, smaller classes and a lower ratio should mean more personalized attention. Of course, this will increase tuition costs in a private school.
  • Educational philosophy and school "culture" - Your choices here depend on personal values. The school's religious affiliation (or lack thereof) may be important to you. How competitive is the school, and what is the nature of that competition? Are the students motivated to learn and to excel? Are they self-starters? Is the atmosphere one of teamwork or of individual achievement? Are grades or knowledge the chief goal of most students? Is there a high degree of spirit and camaraderie? Are there serious disciplinary issues? Do the faculty and administration take a genuine personal interest in the students' development and well-being? Get the views of current students, their parents, and recent alumni on these matters.
  • Extracurricular programs - Look for an extensive variety of extracurricular programs, such as student government, journalism, competitive public speaking (forensics), athletics, dramatics, etc. These and other activities offer valuable experiences, especially about working in groups. Also, extracurricular participation and achievement often tip admissions decisions at the most selective colleges.
  • Distance from home and ease of commutation - With day schools, consider how your child will get there, and how long it will take. No matter how excellent or enjoyable the school, the daily commute can become an energy-sapping negative. Try to avoid transportation options that preclude extracurriculars. If a distant day school is really worth it, can a nearby (and trusted) relative give your young commuter a place to stay during the week?
  • Cost - Cost will limit your options. Inquire about financial aid.

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