Saving time and money choosing a private school

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Nowadays many more tools are available when searching for private schools.

Ten years ago choosing a private school was at a crossroads. Back then you had the traditional ways of finding schools and finding out more about them. You asked around. You contacted schools you knew about. You bought a directory of private schools, if indeed one was available. (I still have a vintage copy of The New York Times Guide to New York City Schools written by Grace and Fred Hechinger published in 1968.) Or you hired an educational consultant.

So, let's take a look at how you can save time and money choosing a private school for your children in 2012.

In 2012 we literally have more information - and misinformation - than we can assimilate. Assuming that you are savvy enough to use reputable sources, you shouldn't have much difficulty finding schools. Here are some places to look.

Directories and Associations
Start with a listing of private school directories and associations like the one we have on this site. Then drill down to the state or regions in which you are interested. Most of these directories and associations have lists of member schools. Use filters to exclude schools not of interest.

The NCES site offers an exhaustive list of every private school in the nation. But it's interface is clunky.

Our site allows you to find schools using filters for all the criteria you need.

The main difference between now and then is that you do not have to buy a print publication in order to find schools. Everything is online. That saves time and money.

School Web Sites
Back in 2002 private school web sites were just begiining to appear online. They were rather rudimentary. Compare Hotchkiss' site in March 2002 with March 2012. Honestly, in 2002 people weren't quite sure what this new-fangled thing called the Internet was all about anyway. And why would anybody want to use it to find private schools?

In 2012 you can visit schools virtually. You can request information. You can apply online. The functionality most private schools now have allows you to find the information you need. Things like academics, athletics and school life are described in both text and photos on most school web sites. School web sites also simplify the process of applying. While there are still certain tasks which you must do the old fashioned way, 90% of your work can now be done online. That saves time and money.

Social Media
Facebook and Twitter allow you and me to see yet another side of private school life. Games, concerts, theater, fund-raisers and all the other accoutrements of private school are at your fingertips when you 'Like' or 'Follow' a school. Once you 'like' a school you will receive anything the school posts via the news feeds on your page.

Social media will keep you connected after you have chosen a school too. Reviewing your child's school's news feeds and its web site regularly will keep you in the loop efficiently. For busy parents that saves time and money.

Using an Educational Consultant
The one constant in the process of choosing a private school over the years is that it is still a good idea to ask an educational consultant for help. Just as you wouldn't make any other major decisions without professional advice, it makes sense to ask a professional to help you find the right school for your child. The last thing you want is an unhappy child. An educational consultant knows her schools. She can ask questions you can't ask or perhaps haven't even thought of.

A consultant can save you time and money by preventing you from visiting and applying to schools which your child simply doesn't stand a chance of getting into. You may have had your hopes set on school X until your consultant reminds you that a transcript with several B's in math and English and average test scores will not be competitive. She will explain why it is better to concentrate your efforts on visiting one school which is a bit of a reach, one school which is a fairly sure thing and a safe school. As long as each school is a good fit for your needs and requirements, does it matter if it is extremely competitive? A consultant's expertise can save you time and money.

Courtesy of Private School Review (