Life events pose a unique challenge because
each is a new or infrequent occurrence
which many people have little or no
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
In these circumstances, a little dose
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
- 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
- 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.