It’s the time of year middle schoolers are faced with the challenge of choosing a high school. It’s an emotional time for kids — be understanding. Here are five things to consider:
Private versus public — Private schools cost more than $6,000 a year for tuition. That’s $24,000 for four years, and that does not include any of the activities, uniforms or fees. Loan opportunities exist for private schools, but if college is in the future, more loans will follow. Have a frank family discussion about how this impacts your family. Children need to know we love them and support them, but financial reality must be part of the equation. Consider all the what ifs. Here’s a link for how to review schools http://www.wikihow.com/Choose-the-Right-High-School.
Big versus small. In our community, McDowell High School has more than 500 students per grade level. All of our kids went there, and the size was never an issue. Our kids were involved in dozens of activities, camps, baseball, soccer, volleyball and more where they interacted with other kids from the region — they knew a lot of kids. Here’s a link that discusses private schools, charter schools and home schooling. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-to-choose-a-private-high-school.html
Be the voice of reason. Guide, but don’t push. For example, some kids naturally lean toward vocational education, but others don’t. Similarly, some kids want to be at the top of the class striving to be the best in honors classes and the works, but others don’t want the stress. Athletes might want to make a school decision based solely on sports. But if your athlete gets hurt, will the school decision still be the right fit? Don’t get stuck on maintaining a family tradition just because it’s a tradition. Every kid is different, and schools do change from generation to generation. Here’s a link that helps you analyze 33 different aspects of high schools. http://www.chooseyourfuture.org/choosing-a-high-school
Location. Getting to and from the school can be a deal breaker for parents and students. After-school and weekend activities mean plenty of return trips to the school for the fun stuff. Be realistic about how much time it takes to make the trip and if the school is on an accessible city bus route.
It’s an emotional decision. Listen to your youngsters. The high schools they choose will impact future decisions. My daughter attended a large high school and decided that she wanted an even bigger school for college. The boys were the opposite. They thrived in a small college environment — every kid is different.
Finally, keep in mind, these are kids — they will change their minds, and they need us to understand. I have one kid who attended a large public school and a small private school — all in four years. We all make decisions and change our minds. You have to do what works for you and your family.
Pam Parker, mother of three and stepmother of three — all over age 20 — is the editor of Lake Erie LifeStyle, Her Times and House to Home at the Erie Times-News in Erie, Pa.