As shared in 5 Simple Steps to Choosing the Right High School, a very important first step in the process of exploring high schools is asking yourself what you want in a high school. Whether you are well into this process or you have a few years during which to consider schools, the list of questions below will help you organize your priorities to maximize the chances of you finding the right high school for you!

Academics

  • Does the school offer courses in my area(s) of interest?
  • Does the school offer Advanced Placement (AP) and/or International Baccalaureate (IB)?
  • Are teachers available and willing to help me before and/or after school?
  • Are tutoring services available?
  • Does the school offer a writing center and/or other resources to help me succeed?
  • I have a learning difference. Does the school have a program to meet my needs?
  • How do students perform on the SAT? ACT? AP exams? IB exams?
  • What percentage of students attend college? 4-year colleges?
  • How much scholarship money do graduates earn from colleges/universities?
  • Which colleges have accepted recent graduates? Where have they attended?
  • Is the school a 1:1 school? If so, what is the technology used (e.g. laptop, iPad, BYOD)?

Clubs and Activities

  • How many activities are available to students?
  • How easy is it to get involved?
  • What if the school doesn’t offer something in which I’m interested? Can I start a club?
  • Should I get involved as a freshman? How will I balance activities with academics?
  • Where can I go to learn more about clubs and activities?
  • Does the school offer opportunities for student leadership?

Athletics

  • Which sports are available at the school?
  • How competitive is the athletic program?
  • How successful is the athletic program?
  • Which sports are “cut” sports, and which are “no-cut” sports? How hard is it to make a team?
  • How do I stay involved in sports if I don’t make a team?
  • Does the school offer club sports and/or an intramural program?
  • Are the coaches also teachers at the school?

Size/Enrollment

  • What is the overall enrollment?
  • What is the average class size? (Hint: This is MUCH more important than student/teacher ratio!)
  • Where do students come from? Are there students from my school or neighborhood?
  • How many students of color attend the school?

Religious Affiliation

  • Does the school have a religious affiliation? If so, what is it?
  • What if I don’t attend that same church?
  • Is religion/theology class a requirement?
  • Are retreats available? Required?
  • How often are opportunities for worship available?
  • Is there a service requirement? Are there other opportunities for service?
  • If there is no religious affiliation, are there religious clubs/activities available?

Location

  • Where is the school located?
  • Is distance from home a concern for me?
  • Is the school safe? Does the school have a safety and security plan in place?
  • Does the school offer transportation to/from campus?
  • How long would it take me to get to campus from my home?

Cost

  • What is the tuition?
  • What additional costs/fees are required?
  • Does the school offer need-based financial aid? If so, what is the process of applying for aid?
  • Does the school offer merit (academic) scholarships? How do I earn one?
  • What percentage of students receive need-based aid?
  • How much does the cost change each year? Why?
  • Does the school participate in the Choice Scholarship (“voucher”) program?
  • Can I get an estimate of aid earlier in the process?
  • Can I meet with someone individually to talk about concerns about cost?