Whether you’re thinking about sending your student to a private school or have already made the decision to do so, choosing the best school “fit” can be overwhelming. As with most big decisions, discovering your “why” is a good starting point.

There are so many reasons why parents opt to send their children to independent schools. Some families are looking for smaller class sizes and individualized instruction. Some are in search of faith-based environments or specific programs like STEM or the arts. Other questions to consider may be: Are you looking for a traditional or a more progressive environment? Is a more diverse student body important to you? Are the strength of the athletic and extracurricular programs important factors for your scholar?

Whether you have multiple reasons for choosing a private school, or just one, the prospect can feel overwhelming. Prioritizing your criteria helps. Identify the most important considerations for you and your student. Then, choose a school that aligns with your family’s goals. You may not find the “perfect” school, but if your main requirements are met, you may discover you’re more flexible about other specifics.

Once you establish your “why” and begin to narrow your search, there are personal yet practical considerations to take into account. Will your student need before or after school care? What about transportation? Will your student thrive more in a co-ed or same-sex setting? And of course, you must think about the cost. How will your family pay for the education? Examine your options. Be sure to include scholarships, financial aid, and additional funding sources and support into your decision. 

As a parent who once went through this decision process and will re-visit it again in a few years when my son chooses a college, I can not emphasize enough the importance of a visit to the school itself. Many schools offer opportunities for students to experience a “day in the life.” This also gives your scholar the chance to speak to other students and get a first-hand experience of what attending the school will feel like. Most schools also offer tours and the chance to speak to current and past families. Take advantage of these opportunities! They can often reveal how comfortable and supported your family will be. But of course, as with most important decisions, a “gut feeling” and listening to your heart can be priceless.

Ultimately, the best school for your student is the school that is the best fit for them and your family. Be honest with yourself about your “why” and your requirements. Narrow and prioritize your search. Visit and experience the school. And when you’re ready, trust your instincts and apply to at least three of your choices.


Erica Jensen
Executive Director

Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore

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