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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Private School K-12 season kicks off & FINANCIAL AID application starts Nov. 1!

Read on to find out why anyone should look into private school. But first, a chance to ask questions and collect information just like a college fair or job fair is coming up in Atlanta on October 7.  From the PeachtreePresbyterian site:

Atlanta School Fair

10/07/2010 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Atlanta School Fair
The Lodge at Peachtree Presbyterian Church
3417 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30305
Opportunity for parents to meet independent and public school staff and receive information regarding elementary schools.

Now about the major part of getting into a private school: affording it!

School and Student Services (SSS)

Many, many private schools use the SSS system provided by the National Association of Independent Schools...and the SSS begins processing financial aid applications November 1, 2010 for the 2011-2012 school year!  Register at the link above and be ready with tax return, employment, and other information!

This is basically like applying to college, you have to start a year early. Why do I (and why should anyone, particularly minorities) consider private school?

  1. Religion. I would like religion to be part of my child's education
  2. UNIFORMS. It's like the difference between being dressed in a suit for work and being dressed in a tank top and jeans for and everyone around you just takes you more seriously and you are more focused and less distracted when you are dressed for what you came to do (lab coat for scientist or doctor, scrubs for nurse, coveralls for mechanic, uniform for student!). Not to mention it reminds me of the great schools back home in Jamaica, all of which use uniforms. No one knows how much or how little money your family has based on how you dressed for school!
  3. Foreign language.  French or Spanish fluency from early, anyone? 
  4. Financial Aid. I won't know how much aid I will get until I TRY, and one thing people tend not to realize in assuming private school is for the rich, is that most of the families at private schools these days are what the rest of us consider "money"...and many of them are getting financial aid.  That SHOULD mean little old me with normal-people income should get a nice bit of change.  But it's up to each school to decide, which is why it's best for those interested to just TRY and see.  If you are already used to paying childcare it might be a bit of a crunch for that bill to continue in the form of private school education instead of going down by half (to afterschool care, if necessary) or zero when your child starts school...but if you can manage it and cut down in other areas, even change the work schedule so you can be home by the time school is out, all the other reasons for private school will be well worth it.  College is NOT the one-size-fits-all answer to everyone's life that it use to be, and can be financed by the student through scholarships and loans.  The primary and secondary education on which the rest of their lives are built, whether they choose college or some other avenue, should not be overlooked as far as quality! (Note: going to public school doesn't automatically mean it's overlooked...unless your school is failing or near it and/or full of behaviour problems)
  5. Diversity.  It's a win-win here, they want to diversify racially AND socio-economically...and admitting my child does both for them in one nice, neat package.  This often backfires if you switch a child into private for high school when networks and friendships have already formed and solidified (and this is true even in public, but much worse in private where classes are smaller).  However starting a child from pre-K or Kindergarten often means they are part of the developing networks from the very beginning and cannot be seen as an outsider if they have always been there and been involved.  It's a theory of mine that I feel is sound.
  6. Connections. Public schools are very transient, and hardly anyone keeps in touch with people they knew from kindergarten all the way through...these days you are lucky if anyone keeps in touch with people they knew before COLLEGE and work!  The people I know who went to private school in Jamaica and/or the U.S. have close friendships with their schoolmates that have survived distance and different circumstances in life.  Public schools just are not that cohesive. Plus the movers and shakers of a community/city generally send their children to private school... 
  7. Behaviour. It's generally well known that private school children are overall better behaved than public schools, and therefore teachers are more able to teach than just use up all their energy dealing with problem children.  It's also generally known that kids pick up on the behaviour of their if they are around children who are all sitting down, lining up, or raising their hand at the appropriate times...they are not going to want to be that oddball off to the side doing something else crazy.
  8. CLASS SIZES. I think most young children do better when a teacher doesn't have to divide her time amongst 20+ young children of the same age!  Most public schools have one teacher per room, as well.  Most (or at least many) private schools are well known for half the class size of the public schools, and some will have two teachers per room.

Schedule a school tour and have them interview your child if they require it BEFORE you go handing over $75 to $100 in application fees, though.

Open houses and school fairs are coming up as well so either visit the websites of private schools you are interested in or stay tuned to sites like Private School Review and Greatschools for school-specific data and parent reviews!  Most of the private schools operate on basically the same timeline nationwide, I come across some things I will share!

Side note if you don't know where the nearest private schools are to your house or your job, put in the address in Google maps, click your address on the left, then choose "Search Nearby" from the pop-up on the map, and type in "school"... all public and private will show up and then you can use the two sites above to check them out before scheduling a tour.

Other side note: Catholic schools give discounts to practicing Catholics.


Amarys said...

Also remember that just because a school is private or parochial doesn't mean it is better. Don't forget to do your research as to what kind of private school it is. Preparatory schools (prep) are best. there are also many elite preparatory boarding schools that give FULL scholarships as well, including the famous Exeter.

Eloquence, Inc. said...

Thanks Amarys!

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