- Identify needs and wants. Have a frank discussion as a family regarding what the student is looking to get out of the high school experience, as well as which settings help him or her learn the best.
- Look at programs offered. Schools vary in their offerings. Comprehensive high schools offer a smorgasbord of courses to appeal to as many students as possible. Magnet or specialty schools may have specialized focuses, such as STEM, communications, business or art.
- How much college prep is desired? While most schools offer advanced placement courses that can translate into college credit, some offer specialty tracks that enable high school students to earn a high school diploma and associate’s degree concurrently.
- Check out campus size. The number of students on campus and teacher-to-student ratio can affect how some students learn. Social kids may like big schools, while an intimate setting may bring others out of their shells.
- Consider religious affiliations. Many families like a faith-based program and religious schools often blend faith into their curriculum.
- Pay attention to finances. Tuition costs can impact which school a student attends.
- Map the school location. Decisions also can be based on how close a school may be. Long commutes can eat into extracurricular activities or family time.
- What clubs and activities are offered? School decisions also can be based on the activities that help develop well-rounded students. Athletes may seek schools with strong sports programs, for example.