Choosing a School
To choose the right school, rely on your knowledge of your child and your family. The choice of a school begins first with an understanding of family needs, values and educational philosophy and the particular needs of the child. Armed with this knowledge, parents should visit schools and review school literature in order to make informed choices.
Here are some important questions to ask as you search for a school:
How do I apply?
The best time for families to apply to schools is in the fall of the year preceding enrollment, but many schools accept and consider applications throughout the year. To begin the application process, call or write the admissions office of the schools you will consider to request a brochure and other pertinent materials. Most schools will require an interview, admissions testing and information from the student's previous school.
What about tuition and financial aid?
Tuition and fees vary according to the type of school and location. Although independent schools rely on tuition income as their major source of revenue, financial aid may be available to families who qualify. Details on financial aid policies and on applying for financial assistance may be obtained from the individual schools.
How can I identify high-quality and committed teachers?
High-quality teachers are individuals who are well prepared in content knowledge, possess strong teaching skills, and have a command of the materials that are being presented in the classroom. They are also able to develop an understanding of how students learn and what interests and motivates them. Schools that employ educated, talented teachers are making a clear investment in students.
Why is a low student-to-teacher ratio important?
A small student-to-teacher ratio allows students to receive individualized attention that leads to greater academic and personal success. Intimate educational environments allow teachers to closely connect with students and fully understand how each individual learns. When teachers are able to spend more time getting to know a student's learning style, they can successfully tailor teaching approaches and actively engage students.
Why is it important for students to feel challenged by their school?
First-rate schools provide students with challenging classroom instruction and demanding graduation requirements, leading to greater preparedness for life-long learning, as well as college. Students know when they're being asked to meet high standards and respond accordingly. Hands-on learning experiences, stimulating class discussions, group projects and offsite field trips are just some of the ways that successful schools motivate students to stretch their minds. Quality schools also give teachers the freedom to create unique learning opportunities that are tailored to individual student learning styles. These schools encourage students to excel by setting high academic goals and expectations.
Are there strong partnerships among parents, teachers and students?
The best schools develop collaborative relationships among parents, teachers and students. These partnerships ensure that students are active participants in the learning process and parents are well informed about their child's educational experiences. Strong partnerships are built on regular, open communication about classroom goals, as well as student academic achievements and personal development. These relationships are an integral part of a quality education.
Does the school have a climate that supports achievement?
The climate of a school is directly connected to its effectiveness. The most successful schools are those in which students and teachers share a sense of purpose and where student achievement is actively supported. Administrators in schools with supportive climates are focused on communicating standards and enforcing both high expectations and rules of student conduct. The close-knit and supportive environment that results ultimately ends up shaping not only the academic development of students but overall personal development as well.
Do you rank schools?
No. It is impossible to rank schools as diverse as those in our membership, just as it would be impossible to rank children in a family. Each must be judged by the degree it fulfills its own objectives, the kind of program and culture the school provides and the qualities that will help a student to succeed there. As stated above, the "best" school is the one that meets the needs of the child.
How do I obtain more information about CAIS member schools?
Please contact the schools directly. Schools will provide you with information on enrollment, tuition and fees, job opportunities, financial aid, academic program, I-20's for international students, etc. You can access the websites of our member schools through the Find a School page on our Web site, or through listings in our printed directory.