100+ Questions To Ask A Private School
Steve Dykstra, MS, CH, CCC/SLP
© 1998 by Steven Dykstra & Trek Associates
Palmer, MA 01069
Is a current catalog and/or video available which I can take with me or have sent to me?
Can you provide 3 references from my local geographic area?
What is the typical make up of your student body? (current census, age, sex, academic levels, geographic origin, academic/learning challenges)
How long has the school been in operation?
Does the school have any well known Alumni?
Are students accepted if they exhibit emotional issues? How are they dealt with?
Is the program certified, licensed, approved, and by whom?
What do you feel the greatest strength of the program is? What is its biggest weakness or challenge?
How soon will an admissions decision be reached? What additional information is needed about my son or daughter?
Is financial aid available and what are the requirements to apply for it?
What is the recommended clothing list my child should bring? Is there a school dress code?
What is recommended for the student's dorm room?
What precautions are taken to safeguard against theft, accidental damage by other students, etc.? Where are valuables kept?
Is there a Code of Conduct or Campus Life Manual my son/daughter can read before enrolling?
What can be done to ease the likelihood of initial homesickness (if this is anticipated)?
Can I see a listing of the curriculum, including course variety in all areas?
What is the student to staff ratio? What is the breakdown of teachers, residential staff, administrators, nurses, and other support staff?
How is a student's academic program planned? Is there an advisor, case manager, or similar contact person that I or my child should contact if we are dissatisfied with it?
How much direct input can a parent or guardian have into educational/social planning for the child?
Can I see a sample of an academic report?
What are the qualifications of your teachers? Are they certified?
(If your child is challenged by some disability...) Are the staff specially trained in the disability?
Is your diploma recognized by the State Dept. of Education?
Does your educational staff adhere to any specific teaching methodology?
What is the typical class day? How many classes? How long is each? When is lunch? What happens immediately after school?
How/when/where does my child study or do homework? How much is typically assigned daily?
How are discipline/academic behavioral consequences handled?
What type of computer technology is available? Networking, email, WWW access, word processing, etc.? Do students need to provide their own computer?
What colleges did your graduates attend last year? What percentage of Seniors went on to college?
How are visitors to the school handled in terms of their desire to sit in classrooms, speak with students, etc.?
Are there courses in pragmatics, social development, public speaking, etc. for self confidence?
What is the typical evening like?
What are the morning and bedtime routines?
What extracurricular activities are offered on a regular basis?
What are the qualifications of your residential staff?
What supervision/emergency coverage is available overnight when most staff are sleeping?
How flexible are dorm room assignments? What if my child does not like his or her roommate?
What types of bathroom/shower accommodations are available?
Is there a privilege system for dorm living? How do students progress through the system?
How are discipline or residential behavioral consequences handled in the dorms?
How is mail and telephone contact with family facilitated?
How is laundry/linen handled?
What kinds of activities and supervision are available on weekends? Is weekend staff the same as weekday staff?
What is the process for students to get permission to visit the homes of friends on weekends?
If appropriate, what kind of religious services and support are readily available to students?
Are staff trained in emergency first aid?
What food service is available? How flexible is it? What is the meal schedule?
How readily are students allowed to leave campus unsupervised?
Do you have a Peer Mediation/Mentor program?
Are students ever supervised by students, as in a Proctor or Student Aide scenario? If so, what type of training/supervision are Peer Leaders provided?
Are drugs and alcohol a problem on your campus? How are infractions for such issues handled?
How are students monitored/supervised for sexual activity?
Are there fraternities/sororities on your campus?
Are students encouraged to engage in community service? How?
What sports are available? Is it a requirement to engage in sports?
Are sports competitive/league play or a club activity?
What types of intramural activities are available?
How many administrators are available? What does the organizational chart look like?
What person is ultimately responsible for the care of my child on a day to day basis?
How long have your administrators been affiliated with the program?
What was the greatest accomplishment of your Administration last year?
How many staff are there? Average age, single/married ratio, male/female ratio, etc.?
Where do staff live?
What kind of background checks are done on staff?
Do teachers also do residential duty?
What is the average longevity of staff in the program? What percentage are new staff this year?
What support services are available to my child on a day to day basis and when in crisis?
Are your staff trained in NonViolent Intervention Techniques?
What was the greatest accomplishment of your Staff last year?
Is there a deposit if my son/daughter is accepted prior to arrival? Is it refundable?
What is the annual room & board fee? What additional fees are required, and are these figures firm or are they estimates, such as for activities, laundry & linen, special events, yearbook etc.?
If my son/daughter chooses to leave midyear, is any portion of the fees refundable? What if my child is dismissed for any reason?
What ancillary services (evaluations, consultations, therapies, etc.) are included in the tuition and what will incur extra expenses?
What, if any, technology fees are required or applicable for student use of computers on campus?
Who is the contact person for travel arrangements, to and from campus at vacation times? Does this person make the actual arrangements or do I?
What options are available for pick up at the airport, train station, bus terminal, etc.?
When students are traveling off campus, what supervision is available?
How are students taught to respond in case of emergencies off grounds?
Are students given ID cards with appropriate contact information?
ODDS & ENDS
How many students left last year's program before the end of the school year? Why?
My son/daughter likes to ___________________. Can that be easily accommodated into the program? How?
How often/where can I visit my son or daughter?
Can I have a copy of the school calendar?
How many nursing staff are there? What hours are they on duty?
Where is the nearest hospital? What access is there to emergency medical care in a health crisis (ambulance, Rescue Squad, etc.)?
How are contagious illnesses handled in your infirmary?
How is medication distributed?
How readily do visitors/strangers come onto campus? Do you have any Campus Security Staff?
Does the school have a financial endowment? How are funds obtained for special projects?
What capital projects (major improvements) is the school engaged in at the present time? Where does the interviewer see the school in 5 years?
What is the make up of the school's Board of Directors?
Is there an active Parents' Organization?
What kinds of contributions, support, financial or in kind assistance is the school currently seeking?
Does the school hold reunions? If so, what kind of attendance is usual?
What kind of relationship does the school and its members have with the local community?
What kinds of special events are there during the course of the year?
QUESTIONS TO ASK A STUDENT/TOUR GUIDE AT THE PROSPECTIVE SCHOOL:
How long have you been a student at the school? Was this your first residential experience?
What do you feel are the strengths of the school?
What do you feel are the weaknesses of the school?
Do you have a favorite teacher? Who is it, and why?
Do you have a favorite residential staff person? Who is it, and why?
What kinds of activities do you typically have in the evening and on weekends?
If they have a privilege program, how does it work and do you like it?
How is the food? (take answers here with caution...)
Are the classrooms/dorms warm in winter? Is there enough space in the room?
How is the sports program? Does it encourage participation or competition?
Would you come back to the school for another year? Why?
If you could change one thing at the school, what would it be?
© 1998 by Steven Dykstra & Trek Associates
Palmer, MA 01069
Duplication allowed for personal use only.
Distribution without permission of author is prohibited.
There is a hard copy booklet of these questions
for $5.00 - postage included - email:
Steven Dykstra MS, CH, CCC/SLP works days in schools in Massachusetts and has a growing private practice for Speech and Language and Hypnotherapy issues. He also publishes "The New England Hypnosis Newsletter.
PO Box 110 - Palmer, MA 01069
Tel/Fax: 413 283 6645 - Email: TrekAssoc@aol.com