As a parent, you want to give your child the best possible education you can afford. For many, that may mean opting for private school, but where do you begin? Friends and neighbors may speak highly of a particular school and online reviews may rave, but that does not ensure a perfect fit for your family. Read on for expert advice that will help you select a learning environment where your child can thrive and ultimately succeed.
• Provide an education that will challenge the child (97%)
• Help child develop/maintain a love of learning (96%)
• Small class size/individual attention (84%)
• Help child develop a strong moral character (82%)
• Help child’s emotional and social development (77%)
• Help child secure superior college placement (74%)
*Source: Council for American Private Education 2015 survey.
Begin with the End in Mind
If your children are in kindergarten or elementary school, your selection criteria for a private school will be quite different than if your child is entering high school. If you are considering a K-12 campus, be sure to visit and ask detailed questions about each phase of the schools curriculum. Some private schools have outstanding programs offered in the lower grades, but experience significant quality decline and attrition by grade 7-12.
There are nearly 400 private schools in Orange County serving approximately 70,364 students. Average tuition ranges from $8,450 for elementary up to $17, 450 for high school. The average acceptance rate is 88%.*
Well-credentialed teachers are the cornerstone of a solid private school
education. When you interview prospective schools, be sure to ask:
• What qualifications are used to select instructors?
• Are instructors single-subject credentialed?
• On average, how much teaching experience do they have?
• What kind of professional development is offered?
Explore Your Options
Is a religious curriculum important or is your investment better spent on
rigorous college prep courses? Here’s a quick summary of private school
• Traditional: Th is type of school may be (run by) for-profit businesses, or they may be nonprofit such as those run by private foundations.
• Boarding: A boarding school by defi nition is any school that offers food and lodging to its students. Most require students to live on campus during the school year.
• Montessori: Montessori school’s put a great emphasis on exploration and individualized learning. Most off er curriculum from Pre-K through grade 8.
• Parochial: A parochial school is a religious private school that receives funding from a local church.
• Religious: Religious schools are private institutions with a religious affiliation such as Catholic, Lutheran or non-denominational Christian.
Don’t Assume it’s Accredited
Accreditation is the educational equivalent of theGood Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Most schools will list the accreditations they currently hold. If they don’t, ask.
• Does tuition increase annually? If so, how much?
• What are the additional fees (uniforms, books, technology/sports fees)
• What is the student/teacher ratio and class size?
• What curriculum does the school use and how does it compare to provincial education guidelines
• Does the school have a STEM program?
• If the school claims to be college prep, ask follow up questions since the term can be subjective. Are there AP classes? What about an International Baccalaureate (IB) program? Is dual enrollment available at the high school level?
• What percentage of upper class students go on to four-year university?
• What is the educational calendar? Some schools still adhere to a traditional post-labor day schedule while others are moving to a year round schedule.
Emphasis on Athletics
One of the components of a quality private school education is a well run athletic program. A great number of private schools o er athletics rivaling many colleges and universities. If your child is already showing talent or interest in a particular sport, make sure the school you are considering has an established program and consider meeting with the coach to ask more specific questions.
Beyond the Brochure
Private schools tend to have very unique, individual cultures. Understanding that culture in advance can help you make a choice that aligns with your family values.
• Is the school part of a community where parents are actively involved and become part of the school “family” or do most parents simply drop off and pick up?
• Do school administrators dress in formal business attire or is the culture more casual?
• Are parent volunteer hours required?
• Does the school promote character and core values? If so, how are those attributes put into practice?
• Is there diversity and is that important to you?
• Does the school have a policy concerning LGBTQ students? Does it align with your own beliefs?
K-12 Private Schools in Orange County
Aliso Campus: Nursery- Kindergarten
21542 Wesley Drive, Laguna Beach, CA
Manzanita Campus: Kindergarten 1- 3rd
Grade; 758 Manzanita Drive, Laguna Beach,
CA 92651; 949-494-7388
Willowbrook Campus: Nursury-6th grade;
20062 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach,
CA 92651; 949-497-8310
Fusion Academy Huntington Beach
7711 Center Ave. Suite 120; Huntington
Beach, CA 92647; 657-200-2300
Fusion Academy Mission Viejo
23456 Madero Suite 140; Mission Viejo, CA
3111 N. Tustin Street, Suite 240
Orange, CA 92865
2100 Main Street, Suite 260
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
25201 Paseo De Alicia, Suite 250
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
2302 Martin Street, Ste. 100 “Colton Plaza”
Newport Beach, CA 92612
JSerra Catholic High School
26351 Junipero Serra Road
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Huntington Christian School
9700 Levee Drive
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
Montessori Harbor-Mesa School
3025 Deodar Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626
1701 West Baker Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
St. Mary’s an IB World School
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656