Tips for Selecting the BEST Private School Open House

St. Agnes Academy
As hard as the end of summer can be, it also marks an exciting time in an adolescent's life. Fall sports are in full swing, high school seniors are working through their college applications, and eighth graders have the opportunity to visit high schools they may want to attend. 

If you find yourself nearing the end of your child's middle school tenure, you may be actively working to soak up the special memories and milestones. At the same time, it is wise to keep in mind some best practices to explore options for high school fully. If you are already knowledgeable about the public school your family is zoned to, it may be helpful to explore private school options. 

Online research and gathering information from word-of-mouth are good ways to grasp if a school might be a good fit for your child, but ultimately, a visit to the school is the best way to make a ground decision for your family. That’s why you should consider scheduling a private school open house to help you learn more about the available educational options for your child.

Keys to a Successful Private School Open House Experience

Read on for eight tips to help your family select the best private school open house to attend.

1. Create a Master List with Key Details (school, location, cost, open house dates) 

Make a list with your child of all schools of interest. These can include both public and private. Research and gather information in a table on data points such as:

  • Type of school (public, non-sectarian private, religious private, etc.)
  • Geographic location and distance from home 
  • Cost (if any) and financial aid opportunities, if needed 
  • Key dates (open house, admission and application deadlines, etc.)

2. Rank your List of Schools 

If your list is longer than five or so schools, it may be helpful to rank the schools from most to least favorite. While casting a wide net when applying to schools may be beneficial, it is not always possible to visit and learn about ten different schools in a short period.

3. Register to attend the Open Houses for 3-5 of your top schools 

Most private schools offer multiple options to visit their campus: school tours with eighth-grade feeder schools, a private personal tour with the nuclear family, or a scheduled annual open house for potential parents and students to attend. Each visit type has pros and cons, but the open house is a great way to see the entire school on full display.

Take the St. Agnes Open House, for example. Our annual event offers families a chance to tour campus and facilities, ask questions, and visit with faculty, administrators, current students, and parents on their "home turf." You’ll also learn more about how to help your child apply to St. Agnes as a 9th grader.

4. Go in with an Open Mind 

Try not to be swayed by friends, family, and neighbors during your application process. Choosing the right school is specific and individualized to each child. School A might be an excellent fit for one sibling, while School B might better fit the needs of the other sibling in the same family.

Additionally, technology has changed the way news and facts travel. If you have hesitations about a school after hearing something unfavorable, see for yourself! Ask the hard questions to administrators and see if their answer helps affirm or deny your preconceived opinion. 

5. Prepare Questions 

Work with your child to prepare a list of questions on topics such as academic programs and curriculum, student life, and the application and admissions processes. As mentioned above, ask the questions that might ultimately be the determining factor in your school choice. 

6. Take Diligent Notes

If you visit more than one school, take notes throughout the entire visit. When it comes time to make a decision, it will be helpful to reference your observations, thoughts, and opinions. If someone from your family cannot attend the visit, these notes will be a great way to debrief them on what they missed! 

7. Prepare to have Exciting but Potentially Hard Conversations 

Adult-to-teenager conversations can be challenging enough. Prepare to discuss thoughts and opinions openly. Realize that what you as a parent might be looking for in a high school may be different than what your child is considering. Additionally, there are resources to prepare yourself for conversations with children about complex topics such as finances. 

8. Don't Stress

If you make a concerted effort, things will work out. The adolescent years are difficult. Be calm, have patience, and enjoy this time with your child! 

Plan to Attend Our Private School Open House

Choosing a high school that best fits your child and your family is a highly personal decision; ideally, it is best to get it right from the beginning! We invite you to attend the St. Agnes Open House on October 19, 2022, to get a first-hand look at the school community in action.

- Find out more about the open house event on our website.