Exploring New Schools for High School


Ninth grade is a rite of passage and one that most kids imagine going through with their closest friends. Considering switching schools seems unthinkable.

Sometimes, the best decisions aren’t planned, though.

high school

Our daughter’s plans did not include switching schools for high school. She has a friend group and adores her tennis coach and soon-to-be high school coach. Throughout the year, she began announcing her goal of making varsity as a freshman.

But then life happened and it led us to check out some schools. My daughter made it clear she did not want to go to an all-girls school or wear a uniform… but because she was going to keep an open mind, she agreed to look at different options for her high school experience.

Through the experience, she wanted to share some of her tips for other public school kids unexpectedly looking at private schools.

Keep an Open Mind

The last thing we thought we’d do is look at private schools. When we first talked about it, our daughter shot us down. She was not interested in leaving her friends but then over time, she warmed up to the idea.

When she went on her first tour, she was apprehensive and nervous. After a couple of tours and visits, she started to see different opportunities and options that she had never considered before.

Make a Pro-Con List

This doesn’t have to be a physical list but consider putting together a list of what you feel is the best and worst parts about where you currently are and where you are considering can help move you past the emotional aspects and into a more analytical state.

Pinpoint What’s Keeping You There

One of the biggest questions you can ask is, “What does my current school have that I don’t want to give up?” In our daughter’s case, there were two things: her tennis coaches and her friends. She recognized that she could still play for her coach in the off-season and her friends would stay her friends, and there is a good chance she would never be in classes with them freshman year even if she stayed. Identifying what she was afraid of leaving allowed her to keep her mind open to new possibilities.

Start Early

We started way too late in the process because we were not actually planning on her changing schools. Because we were late, many scholarships and financial aid opportunities were missed. Furthermore, there are classes for the High School Placement Test and the ISEE Test that last for a whole year and can help you prepare in advance.

Take the Pre-Tests

The last thing our daughter wanted to do was take more tests. She was in the middle of her own state testing and school work, and again, since we applied late, she was under a lot of pressure. When she took the first round of pre-tests, she was not prepared for them and her scores reflected that. Then she took the time to read through and study the bookwork and took the tests again. Her scores raised significantly. The practice tests and study guides really help not just the score but the nerves. It is worth the time to practice.

Try to Relax

Our process went much faster than we expected. Applying for the schools, tests, financial aid, study time and the final test all happened in a little over a month. That is not ideal, so relaxing was hard to do. If you give yourself more time, you will have time to relax more in the process and take your time.

In the end, our daughter was accepted. When she opened the invite for the school of her choice, she screamed and ran to her friends to tell them the news. They hugged her and told her how excited they were for her. She smiled all night and proudly told her grandma the color of her uniform at the all-girls school she would be attending in the fall.


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