The insider’s guide to the private school open house
What to look for, what to ask and how to decide if you’ve found the right fit
Finding the right private sChool in toronto can be just as tough as finding a great place to live in the city. Like buying a house, choosing a school involves considering countless moving parts: quality, location, size, price and a certain je ne sais quoi. Luckily, there are ways to help parents find the right fit for their child. Here, to kick off our annual directory, are four tips to help you conquer the school-hunting process. Get up close and personal
Online research will help you compile a list of contenders, but you’ll need to pound the pavement to find the school that’s right for your family. Start by bringing your youngster to open houses—most private schools hold them in October and November (see pg. 97 for a more detailed calendar). Follow that up with one-on-one interviews at the schools that stood out, where you can ask about specifics that matter to your family: school culture, courses on offer, sports programs and other extracurriculars. Plan ahead— but don’t panic
When you’ve settled on your top choices, apply early, as spots tend to fill up quickly. Schools send offer letters to new students in February, but don’t fret if none arrives. Most also hold additional open houses in the early spring, so you’ll have another chance to check out other schools before admissions close for good. Be financially savvy
Tuition costs can be intimidating, but don’t let them knock a school off your family’s list of options. Most schools offer financial aid (needs-based bursaries for lower-income families) as well as merit-based scholarships, which can cover a portion of, or in some cases, the entire cost of tuition. Some schools also offer flexible payment plans or discounts if multiple siblings enrol. Outside of the academic world, religious groups, sports organizations and the provincial government also offer assistance, so cast a wide net. Know the differences
Not all of the following schools are technically “private.” Schools that use the private designation are for-profit businesses, while independent schools are non-profits run by elected boards of governors. Each has its benefits, but it’s worth knowing the difference: accredited independent schools are considered charities, which means you can receive a tax receipt for tuition. You may also get a receipt if there’s a religious component to a school’s curriculum.
Upper Canada College