Is your child entering high school next year? Are you already searching for the best high school that will help prepare him for college and beyond?
Your child’s high school education will play a crucial role in how they will handle college life. However, a survey revealed that some students feel they aren’t ready for college. They feel that their preparation is inadequate.
Thus, your high school choices are something you cannot afford to take for granted. But with so many options to choose from, how do you know you’re picking the right one for your child?
Continue reading below for an essential guide for choosing the right high school.
1. Determine Your Child’s Needs
Start by understanding your child’s needs.
What suits your child’s learning? Does he excel in a structured environment? Or does he prefer learning in a more free-flowing classroom setup?
Also, you want to look into the school’s disciplinary policies. This will give you an idea about the freedom they give their students.
You also want to see if the school is heavy on group projects compared to individual tasks. You want to get into the details of how the schools assist their students regardless of the latter’s learning styles and backgrounds.
2. Check the Academic Programs
Next, you want to go deep into the schools’ academic programs. Though most high schools offer the same set of core subjects, they may differ in the programs that they use.
Some high schools offer International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. These programs feature a few honors courses while placing a premium on a constant IB schedule. The IB’s main goal is to develop the personal, emotional, social, and intellectual skills of students in line with globalization.
Advanced Placement is another program some schools offer. This allows students to earn college credits while still in high school.
This program generally attracts academic achievers who can survive mature coursework and rigorous academic standards.
Also, check the extracurricular activities they offer. These activities are vital in achieving a holistic learning experience in high school. If your child is into sports, find a high school that offers a strong athletic program.
If your child is into the arts, go for a school that offers music or drama classes. You want a school that opens up career choices for high school students.
3. Understand Your Child’s Learning Style
We mentioned earlier the importance of your child’s learning style. But what does learning style exactly mean? It’s the type of learning method where he absorbs the most information and learns the fastest.
Some children, for example, are auditory learners. This means they absorb their lessons better through teachers who speak most of the time. Others are visual learners who prefer the use of visuals in their lessons.
Some students prefer working in a group. Some excel when they work alone.
Hence, you need to determine the specific learning style of your child. From there, streamline your choices to the high schools that offer programs that match your child’s learning style.
4. Pay Them a Visit
Though the internet can give you an overview of the school, you should still physically visit them. Call up the admissions office and schedule a quick tour.
In case the schedule doesn’t match your availability, you can visit one of their major events. It can be a sporting event or a musical.
Your goal is to see how the teachers interact with their students and vice-versa. Does the school have rowdy students? Or do they show respect to their teachers?
Furthermore, check the size of the schools. Generally, smaller schools provide more attention to their students. On the flip side, bigger schools offer more opportunities for your child to build relationships.
If your child is the introvert type, then a smaller school may work better for him. If she is the outgoing type, then she can thrive in a bigger environment.
And of course, don’t forget to take your child with you when you join the school tours.
5. Who Is Teaching?
Even if the internet offers a deep well of knowledge, nothing beats the experience of learning from a teacher. The teachers are like the engines that make the school run. If the instructors are sub-par, the students may not absorb as much as they should.
Thus, you need to check the quality of the teachers in the school. Apart from the student-teacher ratio, you want to see how the teachers interact with their students during class. Do they command respect?
Are they able to clearly explain the lessons? Do they help the students whenever they struggle to understand the lessons?
Do they simply spoon-feed everything or do they engage students to think?
Also, you want to find a school that has a diverse teaching roster. This means having instructors coming from various cultures and backgrounds.
6. Get the Admissions Rubrics
You also want to secure the admissions rubrics of the high schools on your shortlist. Do this after completing the school visit.
The rubrics will give you an overview of how the schools filter the students that they will accept. If you choose a selective high school, expect the rubric to be more stringent than others.
Moreover, the rubrics will guide you through the key aspects of your child’s application. Keep in mind that some states in the US implement only one general rubric for all high schools. But others allow the schools to craft their respective rubrics.
In case the school doesn’t have any, you can politely ask the admissions office to explain the application’s most important parts.
7. Consider the Cost
Before you narrow down your options, you need to compare the cost of the tuition. The majority of high school students in the US go to public high schools. The reason being is that most of these schools offer free tuition.
All you need to shoulder are the school supplies, fees for extracurricular activities, and college prep. The latter covers the SATs, ACTs, and Advanced Placement tests.
Meanwhile, private high schools may cost you a lot depending on the institution. Hence, assess your budget regardless if you want to enroll your child in a public or private high school.
Find out what is the more feasible option with your finances in mind.
8. Location Is Essential
Another key factor to consider is the location of the school. Studies reveal that a long commute to school affects students’ performance. It will adversely affect your child’s quality of sleep and overall well-being.
If the school is relatively far from your place, your child needs to wake up earlier than he should. In turn, he gets a shorter sleep at night. This may disrupt his concentration in school and affect his productivity.
The rule of thumb is to find a school that allows your child to get enough rest at night. This also means your child has enough hours to do his homework without compromising his 8-hour nightly sleep.
9. Facilities Matter
During the tour, inquire about the school’s facilities. With the prevalence of technology, it is a must to find schools that can keep up with emerging technology.
You want a school that effectively integrates technology in a classroom setting. Some of these technologies include tablets, laptops, and interactive whiteboards.
10. Test Scores and College Acceptance
Aside from the curriculum, you also want to check the school’s track record in test scores. When you look at the test scores, check the performance of the students with disabilities. This will give you an idea of how effective the school is in addressing the various needs of their students.
Check the school’s average over the last five years. Are the scores going up or down?
Also, check the college acceptance rates of their graduates. In 2019, 15.3 million students attended high school. However, making it college is a different story. There are high schools that fail to equip their graduates.
Where can you find most of their alumni? Are they studying in top-tier or reputable universities?
11. Have a Heart-to-Heart Talk
Last but not least, sit down with your child and have an intimate conversation. Of the different high schools that you visited, ask him where he prefers to go.
Kids who are about to enter high school are at the ripe age to make decisions about their schooling. Yes, you will still have the final say but your child’s opinion also matters.
What your child’s decision is, weigh all your options. Consider all factors then decide as a family.
Go Beyond High School Choices
Your high school choices for your child are one of the most important decisions you will make. Take time to review all factors and don’t rush your decisions. But picking a high school is only one of the many tough choices you will make.
We invite you to read more of our articles. We discuss topics and offer tips that will help you make wiser decisions in life.