When you’re looking for a new school for your child (or just curious to see the options in your area for a potential future school switch) a quick google search will pull up your local options:
- public schools
- charter schools
- private schools
The last one may intrigue you, but also give you some pause as you think….
- What makes a private school different from other options?
- Will I be able to afford it?
- Is it worth it?
- Will my child (or will I) fit into the private school culture?
While these are all GREAT QUESTIONS, we believe it’s important to take the investigation off the internet and go straight to the private school for a personal tour, even if you’re not sure about it yet.
Touring a private school and meeting with their staff is the ultimate pre-step to any enrollment process. You get to see the school in action and interact with real staff members. Best of all, there is time for you to ask all your personal questions.
Unfortunately, sometimes parents don’t schedule a tour at a private school because of 7 common barriers:
- Religious affiliation
- Your Unique Circumstances
- COVID Safety
We don’t want you to miss out on any opportunities for your child, so in this blog post we’re going to walk through the 7 common barriers parents encounter, and why it’s important not to let them deter you from making an initial private school visit!
Depending on the region where you live, there will be different languages spoken. Schools are aware of those needs and more than likely they have staff prepared to meet them. Don’t feel bad about asking if someone can speak the language you feel most comfortable with.
For example, our DSA-Doral Campus is located in the greater Miami area. Spanish and English are both widely spoken in Miami, so we make sure our admissions team is bilingual!
Always ask about language services. There is a good chance the school can help.
2. Religious Affiliation
This is an important topic, but try not to assume you know the answers to the big questions before you ask:
- Do I need to be religious to have my children here?
- Do I need to be the same religion as the school?
- How is religion incorporated into the school days and student life?
All these questions are best to ask in person with the admissions staff. You can also observations on your tour of the school.
Generally, there are two types of religious schools: those that require religious affiliation from the family and those that do not, but still incorporate it in the education of their students while at school.
There are benefits to attending a religious school, such as our Christian academy, even if your family does not identify as “Christian”. Reasons could be shared values, a safe environment, loving teachers, or top-notch programs.
Our advice is to schedule the in-person visit, ask your questions, and discuss it as a family. We are confident you’ll find the choice that’s right for you once you gather all the information.
Over half of our DSA families have found us through the recommendation of a friend.
Shout out to our amazing DSA ambassadors! We appreciate you. You’re the reason we do what we do.
But, there are also impressions that can be formed about a school through word-of-mouth that don’t give you all the information or context. Plus, no two parents are the same, so the way they view a situation or philosophy of education will also be different.
The best balance is to keep asking friends for their “inside scoop”, while also going for a visit and making your own opinions too.
We only know what we know. Sometimes that’s enough to come to an accurate conclusion, but other times we are misguided by our perception. The only way to verify if your perception is correct is by going to the source.
Have any of these thoughts run through your mind when thinking about “private education” in general or about a specific school in your city?
- Those schools are only for wealthy kids.
- My child is not on the Ivy League path, so he/she won’t fit in.
- That school is only about Christianity and nothing else so my daughter will miss out on quality academics, athletics, and school dances if we send her there.
It’s ok, and only normal. However, the reality might be far different than your perception and you could be missing out on a really great opportunity for your child if you don’t schedule a tour and investigate more.
5. Your Unique Circumstances
No two children are the same, and no two families are the same. There are some schools that will be able to serve certain groups better than others. English as a Second Language, Special Education, Individual Education Plans are all important to bring up – on a tour.
At DSA, we are always honest with our parents. If we can serve your child, we will tell you exactly how. If we can’t, we’ll encourage you to look for an option that can meet your child’s specific needs better somewhere else. Quality school admissions teams are focused on enrolling students with integrity.
Every school will do this differently, but at DSA we list our new and returning student tuition and fees directly on our website. Private school education is certainly a choice and financial commitment, but understanding the value you’re getting is most important.
Here are some helpful tips for uncovering a school’s value:
- Are students nurtured in all areas of their development: cognitive (academic), social, emotional, physical, and spiritual?
- What is the student to teacher ratio?
- What support staff does the school have in addition to classroom teachers (like counselors)?
- Is there an engaged parent group (like a PTO)?
- How thorough is the college counseling process?
- How many years do the college counselors work with students to prepare them?
- What are the alumni doing?
- Where are alumni going to college or what kinds of jobs do they have?
- Are the alumni happy and willing to return to their alma mater?
Once you’ve asked the school all these questions, the next step is to reflect as a family:
- What do I want for my child?
- Who do I want my child to become in the future?
- Is this school the best way to help them achieve these dreams?
Almost all parents on our DSA campuses initially talk about wanting their children to attend a good college that ultimately gets them a good job. But after that they say, “I just want my child to be happy, to have a successful life, to be secure in who they are, to be adaptable, responsible, kind, respectful, and have a true north for their life.” That whole package, that foundation for life, is why so many parents choose Divine Savior Academy for their children.
7. COVID-19 Safety
This was an obvious concern in 2020, and continues to be in 2021. The good news is we have more data now and know that schools are among the safest places.
During a CDC task force briefing on November 19, 2020, CDC Director Redfield shared, “The truth is for kids PreK-12, it [in-person school] is the safest place they can be, from our perspective.” The reason for this confidence is effective mask wearing and additional safety measures that are continually upheld at schools.
Our recommendation is to ask a school what their COVID-19 safety measures are for students and staff, and how touring families are kept safe as well. We’re confident they will have a whole list for you!
At DSA, our safety measures and school plans throughout the pandemic have been kept on our website for our parents and community members to see. Additionally, our admissions webpages share the process for keeping safe on tours.
Are you feeling encouraged and less overwhelmed? We hope so!
Great private schools exist because of their mission to serve families in a special way. And they don’t just want to tell you that on their website, they want to SHOW YOU that in person through a tour and conversation. The process of choosing a school becomes clearer after you go on tours, and it’s in your family’s best interest to investigate all the school options so you find the right environment for your child. That’s the goal after all!
If you’re in the Austin, Houston, Miami, or Delray Beach area, we invite you to explore our DSA campuses on website, BUT don’t leave without scheduling a tour!