By Vibha Kagzi
An increasing number of students are changing their high school. For some the transition is due to the Board offered and for others it is to provide a more conducive learning environment. As you initiate your high school list for your child, there is a wide range of criteria you need to consider before deciding which school is an appropriate fit, but here are my top 5:
- Board and Curriculum: More and more students are exploring alternative high school options due to the qualification they wish to attain in their 10th and 12th When evaluating high schools, make sure you thoroughly understand what the ethos of the Board is, and does the school offer the appropriate framework around it. Delve into number of subjects, range and restriction of choices, additional curriculum requirements and grading benchmarks.
- Learning Style: Does the method of teaching support your child’s learning needs? Every student learns differently, especially if from a young age they have been part of one style or system and are now asked to submerge themselves in another. Probe into classroom dynamics and what parameters the student is evaluated and assessed on. For example, do students need to actively participate? Does the school follow the rote learning methodology or is it more interactive? It’s important to evaluate how your child will be taught and whether the pedagogy matches their expectations. Remember, even the same qualification (e.g. IB Diploma) can be taught differently at different schools.
- Activities outside Classroom: Research whether the high school lets your child develop a holistic personality and participate in extracurricular activities that are important to them. Explore the clubs, groups, sports the school has to offer and ensure you find activities that resonate with your child’s personality. If your child is a strong chess or basketball player or a budding artist or entrepreneur, does the school provide the appropriate framework and support for their skills? If preferences are not available, is the school open to your child initiating their own club? Additionally, it’s important your child not only has the required amenities but the appropriate time to actively engage in the areas of interest.
- Reputation: Ensure that you apply to a school that has a strong focus on the subjects your child is interested in and the right facilities and faculty. Research the school’s expertise. For example, if your child is looking to pursue drama, does the high school have the academic option, proficient faculty and appropriate facilities? Are students being accepted at colleges for undergraduate studies in Drama/Fine Arts? The current students and alumni are a great voice for the school. It’s important to connect with them to get an in-depth perspective of the strengths and weaknesses of the school. Especially reach out to students who have similar interests and alumni who are in a career path similar to your child’s interest.
- Placements: Which college, the graduates from a particular high school enroll provides great insight into the high school. It’s important to evaluate not only the university, but also its location and subject(s) selected by the students. For example, are most of the graduating 12th class students heading to the UK, and are they predominantly selecting engineering majors? It’s important to take note of what the placement statistics are of the school and whether they align well with your child’s goals and aspirations.
The last four years of high school will lay the foundation for your child’s college and career aspirations. Thus, it’s very important to first evaluate why you are looking to make a shift and then go beyond the website to identify the appropriate high school that provides the best fit. It’s imperative that you visit the school before making your final decision and speak to the staff and administration.
About Vibha Kagzi: Vibha Kagzi holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science from Carnegie Mellon University. She has also pursued courses at the University of California, Berkeley, the Indian School of Business and the London School of Economics. Her professional experience spans finance, fashion, media and public relations. She has worked in New York in asset management and helped establish a California-based hedge fund in India.