As director of admission and marketing at Harrisburg Academy, I often get questions from families about how to work the process of choosing a school community that is a good fit for their family and their child.  A good friend shared this piece on using open house events to assist in that decision.  Thanks to Gretchen Lurie for sharing this great selection of questions every prospective family should consider.

– Jessica Warren, director of admission and marketing at Harrisburg Academy

Whether this is your first experience with private education or your child is moving into a new independent school community, you will want to find a school that best fits the needs of your child and your family.  There are many important things to observe and consider while attending an Open House:

1. Size, Cost and Location – What kind of classroom setting will be most beneficial to your child? What does the student-to-teacher ratio look like? How does the class and school size affect your child’s opportunities? Do tuition costs fit your family’s budget? What is included in tuition? Is there a financial aid program and is it accessible? Is the school situated close to home or work? How will traffic patterns affect getting your child to school on time? Do you have neighbors with children in this school? Will you need or want to carpool?

2. Quality of Education and Educational Philosophy – What are the mission and goals of the school? What is the educational focus of the program? How does the atmosphere of the classroom feel? What type of instruction in going on in the classroom? Does the teaching style match your child’s individual learning style? What types of learning experiences are available? What are the expectations of each child? What position does the school take on testing?

3. Faculty and Staff – Do you have an understanding of their backgrounds, educational history and areas of specialty? Do teachers and staff hold advanced degrees?

4. Facilities – How does the school support students in the areas of technology, arts, sciences, sports and enrichment? Is there adequate space for learning and playing at this school?

5. Beyond the Basics – What are the opportunities or expectations for parent involvement? What is the diversity among the student body and faculty/staff? If you have childcare needs beyond the school day, is there a program to serve your family? Can you see your child here?

Taking the opportunity to speak with as many faculty, staff, current students and parents on hand at an Open House is also very valuable and an important step during the visit. These individuals can offer a fresh perspective on life at the school and help answer any additional questions you may have about the experience on campus and as a member of the school community.