When students transition from 8th grade to 9th grade, most will move from one school to another. Often they will not only switch schools, but they will also switch school districts. This moment of transition is the right time for students and their families to assess their satisfaction with their education so far. If you are not happy with what you find, or believe that there could be something better, it may be time to seek an alternative to the status quo.
Fortunately, alternatives abound in the US, whether transfers within or across school districts, or through public charter schools, or through private schools. Many have generous financial aid available and are eager to find students from every economic background.
As you look forward to the high school your student will be starting in the fall, there are a number of questions parents should ask:
- Does the school value what you value? If your child is a star athlete, finding a school with a big commitment to athletics might make sense. But if your child is not an athlete, do you want to go to a school that prioritizes football over the things you care about?
- Do the teachers want to be there? Are they excited, motivated, and eager to spend time with the students? Do they know what interests and motivates their students? Do they make themselves available to the students outside of class? Or does it feel like they are just phoning it in?
- Will the school prepare students for the world they will be living in tomorrow rather than the world the textbook authors are living in today? Are the academics rigorous? Does the course of study go beyond learning skills to address work skills and self management skills?
- Will the school ensure that emotional and social needs of students are met, whether in person or online? Will it ensure that students will become fully realized adults ready to enter the world of work or higher education when they reach the end of high school?
Think about these questions when evaluating your local high school. If you don’t like the answers, it is never too late to explore alternatives.
Better to arrive at the right place late than to stay at the wrong place all year.
Finally, COVID-19 has shown that even the best plans can be disrupted. What good is going to a school if the campus is closed and if the classes are replaced by stacks of worksheets? Make sure that any school you consider can provide a seamless education. It should take full advantage of the classroom but can also move online when needed. It should ensure that schedules and courses will remain predictable and unchanging. Make sure that your student will get the attention they need and deserve, no matter the format of the classroom.
There are good schools out there. This is the biggest investment of time that will ever be made for their future. Make sure it is an investment that you and your student are happy to make.