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How to Choose the Right High School for Your Child

Students in blazers smiling


Choosing the right high school for your child is as important as it is challenging. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration and a lot of information to sift through when selecting a school. You want to ensure that your child learns and develops academically, socially and emotionally. At the same time, you want them to be in an environment where they feel comfortable and safe. Let’s take a look at some of the most critical factors you should consider when choosing a school for your child.

What to Consider When Choosing a School for Your Child?

As a parent, you always want the best for your child or children. After all, their lives depend greatly on the decisions that you make for them. Choosing a school is one of those life-changing decisions. The following list of factors in choosing a school will help.

Private School vs. Public School

Some parents prefer private schools over public schools because of smaller class sizes, better teacher-student ratios, and a wider curriculum. Private schools usually have a more rigorous academic reputation, but this doesn’t necessarily imply that the quality of public schools is lacking. Families have different reasons for choosing one or the other. If you’re unsure what option is best for your child, read “Private School vs. Public School” to learn more about the differences between the two and the pros and cons of each.

Academic Quality

Getting a sense of a school’s academic quality and overall reputation is a step in the right direction. The academic quality of a school describes how well the learning opportunities available to students will help them to achieve their goals. No school will be able to offer the best programs in all fields, so ensure that you know what academic programs are most important to you and your child.

School Culture & Values

Every school has its own culture, values, and educational approach. A school’s culture consists of the beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, and rules that shape how a school functions. It also includes the physical environment, the emotional safety of students, the orderliness of the school’s classrooms and public spaces, and the degree to which a school embraces and celebrates cultural diversity. You can learn more about a school's culture and values by visiting their website or campus, signing up for virtual events, or by contacting (former) students and staff members.

Amenities, Facilities and Activities

Your child will spend a great deal of their time at school, so it is essential that amenities are either located at the school or within walking distance. Access to libraries, laboratories, or sports facilities can be desirable depending on each student’s unique needs. In addition, extracurricular activities can give your child a more well-rounded experience and may pave the way for college scholarships. Find out what extracurricular activities your child enjoys and what is provided by your prospective schools.

School Faculty and Staff

A school’s faculty and staff play an essential role in ensuring students live and learn in a safe and supportive environment. Some schools’ websites offer interested families the opportunity to connect with current students to learn about their experience or connect with staff members to learn about their teaching methods and training. Staff bios and credentials should also be available on the school’s website.

Support Systems

Whether your child goes to a public or private school, having a support system of teachers, mentors, and like-minded students is important. Support systems can help students become more optimistic about their education and future, reach their academic goals, and achieve better success in school. Most schools offer students some form of institutional support, including teachers, counselors, or administrators. 

Overall Cost

When choosing a school, the overall cost will play an important role. While private schools tend to be more expensive than public schools, private schools usually keep classroom sizes smaller, which means students receive more individual attention. Private schools charge tuition, though in some cases, scholarships and forms of financial aid are possible. Make sure to speak with an academic advisor about loans, scholarships, and other opportunities offered at your prospective schools.


In today's global age, most schools commit to reflect, acknowledge and celebrate diversity. Diversity teaches students to develop kindliness, understandability, and sensitivity to human differences. If this factor is important to you, make a note to bring it up during your conversations with prospective schools. Keep in mind that diversity includes but is not limited to ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities, race, and sexual orientation, as well as religious status.


If you are still wondering about the pros and cons of enrolling your child in a private school, we recommend reading “What Is the Benefit of A Private School?"

Questions to Ask When Choosing a School for Your Child

When you dive deeper into different schools and programs, you’ll soon be able to compare and contrast features. Once you have narrowed down your options, further information can usually be found on the school’s websites or by contacting those schools directly.

The following are five questions that every parent should have the answers to before enrolling their child:

  1. What does a typical school day look like for students?

  2. What classes or programs make you stand out from other schools?

  3. How would you describe the school’s culture and values?

  4. What amenities and extracurricular activities are available?

  5. What about the school are you most proud of?

Should you let your child choose their secondary school?

This is a question that many parents struggle with: Should you let your child choose their school? The answer to this question will be different for every family. Going to high school is a milestone and a life-changing experience for students. It can’t hurt to include your child in the decision-making process or ask them for their input once you have already narrowed down the options.

8 Facts About Wilbraham & Monson Academy

Are you considering applying to WMA? The following facts are some of the reasons why parents choose to enroll students in our school.

1. We’re a private school

Located in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, Wilbraham & Monson Academy is an independent, college preparatory, coeducational middle and upper school for boarding and day students. As one of the country’s oldest boarding schools, Wilbraham & Monson Academy has been educating global citizens and world leaders since 1804.

2. Our academic program

Our academic program offers 22 Advanced Placement courses and various honors tracks. We create global thinkers by offering a curriculum that integrates the mastery of traditional core disciplines while incorporating specialized courses such as those specific to our Center for Entrepreneurship, Economics & Finance our Financial Trading Center.

3. Our culture and values

At Wilbraham & Monson Academy, our mission is to create future leaders who investigate opportunities for intellectual growth, integrate by seeking intercultural connections, and innovate by practicing critical reasoning and entrepreneurial thinking. And while it’s our values that set the foundation for our community at school, it's our students who bring it to life.

4. Our amenities and extracurricular activities

Our student-athletes can participate in 29 varsity teams, including rugby, skiing, riflery, and water polo. In addition, students can engage in over 26 creative activities (including dance, theater, and model congress) and participate in more than 30 clubs to discover and explore their passions. This wide variety of activities help students to build a resume for college, increase their creativity, improve their organizational skills and develop valuable life skills.

5. Our faculty are engaged professionals

Together with our students, our faculty and staff create and maintain the level of excellence at Wilbraham & Monson Academy. Our teachers are more than instructional experts; they are dorm parents, support systems, and caretakers. And the student-to-faculty ratio is less than 6:1. We hire only highly skilled teachers with advanced degrees who can offer the best benefits to our students.

6. Our support system

At Wilbraham & Monson Academy, we match our challenging environment with a nurturing support system. Our students respect each other, themselves, and the WMA community. They are surrounded and supported by a caring network of faculty and staff who dedicate their time and energy to inspiring those around them. 

7. We offer financial aid

Our annual tuition and additional fees depend on whether your child will attend as a day student or board on campus and their grade level. For our most up-to-date costs, more information about financing and international payments, or to apply for financial aid, please visit our Tuition & Financial Aid page.

8. We embrace and celebrate diversity

Wilbraham & Monson Academy is home to close to 400 students from 32 different countries. Our students have the unique opportunity to live, learn and play alongside students from diverse backgrounds and cultures. This diversity helps students expand their worldview, develop an international perspective, enhance their social-emotional skills and prepare themselves to succeed in a global economy.

We understand the importance of choosing the right school for your family. If you would like to learn more about Wilbraham & Monson Academy, please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or read “How to Choose the Right Boarding School” for more info. We look forward to answering any questions you may have and getting to know you and your family.


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