Important Questions About Independent Private Schools
What is an independent school? Is it the same as a private school?
Yes. Independent schools are simply a particular kind of nonprofit private school, distinguished by having a freestanding board of trustees that is solely responsible for the school.
Aren’t all independent schools basically the same?
Not at all. Just within our membership there is an extraordinary range of schools, from small elementary schools to big boarding schools, and everything in between. While most schools are coed, a number are single-sex. Many schools have a particular religious affiliation or follow a particular educational philosophy. Some schools define themselves as traditional in their approaches; others see themselves as progressive. Every independent school has a unique mission that guides the work and leadership of the school.
What’s wrong with public schools? Why would I pay for something that I already get for free?
There’s nothing wrong with public schools, but at some point you may decide that your child is not thriving in your public school and that you want a different learning environment for him or her. You may feel that greater academic challenges or more enrichment would allow your child to more fully reach his or her potential. One-size-fits-all just won’t work for every student. You might be concerned that your child is becoming negative about school, is coasting or seems to be lost in the shuffle, isn’t doing much homework, isn’t getting the needed support, or isn’t involved in extra-curricular activities. Or you might be concerned that the teachers don’t know your child as an individual or that the schools values and priorities don’t align with yours. Those are serious concerns. You could well decide that a private independent school is just what your child needs, and because education is a high priority in terms of your family’s resources, you are willing to make the necessary investments.
Does an independent school adequately prepare my child for the future?
The best preparation for adulthood is an education rooted in strong values and a commitment to excellence in character as well as academics. This is the kind of education our schools offer. Most independent schools are intentionally diverse—racially, ethnically, geographically, and socioeconomically—which can set the right foundation for an increasingly complex and connected world.
How can I decide if an independent school is a worthwhile investment in my child and her future?
It all comes down to some basic questions: Are my child’s needs being met in his present situation? Is my child engaged, nurtured, and challenged in her present situation? How important are those things to you? Would you consider a private college to be a worthwhile investment? As one parent told us, “My child having a good educational experience is more important than a dollar amount.”
Do you need to have low income to receive financial aid? Do schools have much financial aid to give out?
“No” and “It depends.” Financial aid is based on your need, and many families with above-average incomes are surprised to find that they do qualify for some support. The amount of available aid varies from school to school. The average AISNE school provides financial aid to twenty-five percent of its families and the average grant is about $20,000 (note this includes boarding schools with higher costs). If you know that you will need financial aid, be sure to ask about it when you visit schools.
Independent schools must not be very diverse. Right?
Actually, independent schools are quite diverse, with our member schools reporting an average of eighteen percent students of color and an average of twenty-five percent of students receiving financial aid. Few suburban public schools could claim to be as racially and socio-economically diverse. So the independent school down the street may well be more reflective of the diversity of our society than your public school.
Why is small class size supposed to be so good for students?
Primarily because having fewer students allows the teachers to: 1.get to know each student in depth, 2.be able to closely monitor the student’s progress, 3.and have the time to help when a student has difficulty.
What’s involved in applying to an independent school?
There are a number of steps to follow, including doing your homework to pick the schools that will be a good match, visiting the schools, filling out an application, filling out financial aid forms, arranging for any required testing, and arranging to have your current school send records and evaluations. Remember that the admission professionals at our schools are there to help you every step of the way.
For more information and to start your search for the right school, visit: aisne.org