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What to look for in a high school?

Posted by on Nov. 2, 2013 at 2:46 PM
  • 27 Replies

My son is in 8th grade, and we have a lot of options for high school. The high schools here are a lot different than what I had access to growing up. Plus a lot has changed in terms of technology and teaching techniques. 

What are some things to look for in a high school?

I'd love some feedback about some things you've liked and disliked about your teen's high school.

by on Nov. 2, 2013 at 2:46 PM
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Replies (1-10):
bizzeemom2717
by Jen on Nov. 2, 2013 at 3:41 PM
We don't have options but we moved to a large city from a small rural one when my dd was going into 8th grade so I looked at diff school districts and what those hs had to offer before we bought a home.
All of my kids are diff for my dd she is into volleyball, does well in school (but not as much into AP classes as her older bro) and I knew would thrive and do well in a large school that offered a lot of activities with a focus on athletics. Also safety, graduation rates, ect played into it.
I know it's diff prob when you live in an area where you can actually choose a hs not by where you live but by your child's interests that would be amazing!
I would look at what does your son have an interest in? Will he be taking a lot of AP classes? Will he most likely be in the top 15% of his class and going to an ivy league school (rare) but if so look at one that focuses on his particular area of academia. If its athletics look at the best possible school to balance that and academics. Does he like computers, math, bio science? I would really sit down with him now and try to get his input. It's exciting to chose but kids at this age even my son who did really get into the spirit and his first choice college I know in 8th grade may have been like idk??? Lol. Good luck. Sorry I know I rambled.
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atlmom2
by Susie on Nov. 2, 2013 at 4:47 PM
Most of the time there is no options.

We moved here when oldest dd was starting HS. So we went HS shopping for a year before we moved. Finally told dh we could only look in one school district. Slowly I ruled out 5 to 6 other districts to live in. Some deal breakers were overcrowding and no new school or adding on, test scores, offerings etc. The school they went to had almost 100 class offerings. They had 2 campuses, one for freshman and sophomores and other for juniors and seniors. A bonus is they had good athletics and won the state in multiple sports each year.
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drfink
by Emily on Nov. 2, 2013 at 7:06 PM

We have a lot of options.The public school that feeds our high school feeder program has an academic magnet program and an Engineering program as well as a traditional program.Some of the magnet programs have a strong academic componet some not as much.Though all the magnet programs are college oriented but a couple.

Several large traditional high schools in our district also have embedded magnet programs ...Foreign Language ,I.B. , and several others.

We also have exclusive public schools ...Fine Ats .Health and Medical Profesions and several more.

We ,meaning each child as they head for h.s. and us (parents) look and see.For all of mine they preferred the magnet program in our feeder.Many parents and kids like these programs that are embedded because of the extracurricular.My four have run CC ,play LAX ,Golf and Rugby.One was in a future teacher,cc ,golf and the Theater Company ...lol...she is a sr in college for her B.S.N. so for her the teacher wasn't a hit but she enjoyed it LOL.My oldest was in video communications as both an anchor and behind the scene tech ,cc,lax and big in debate.My teens do a cross section of things all while in a magnet program.

Our individualized programs offer no extracurricular...sports ,band ,choir.This is a perfect for some kids.In our Fine Arts school the day is half fine arts...individualized discipline and half is high school Montessori style kind of.The school scores very well academically.Plenty of kids thrive on the one track schools.

For us we think our kids were happiest and more productive when they are all around more involved in several areas of their h.s..Personally I like the magnet part also because we have kids from across the district attend.So my kids have been exposed to different cultures and economic levels.We have been fortunate and live in a very comfortable area.They have been friends with children that are very academically oriented but come from completely different backgrounds.I think this is a huge plus for my children.

Good luck.HA When I was in school there weren't too many decisions about H.S. only college.Here people start looking in seventh grade ...Apps are due in Dec and Jan of eighth depending on the program.Letters come out in April ....Kinda gets parents ready for the college push hahaha

Not_A_Native
by Bronze Member on Nov. 2, 2013 at 7:06 PM

We shopped for a house based on school districts when we moved here, long before any of the kids were in high school.

I looked for high test scores.  High parent participation.  Low number of free/reduced lunches (which means also less tax money).  Large numbers of AP classes available.  Ranking in the US News and World Reports of best high schools in the country. High particpation in community events.

suesues
by Silver Member on Nov. 3, 2013 at 8:01 AM

graduation rate location college credit  courses and most of all they must like it 

mjande4
by Member on Nov. 3, 2013 at 1:10 PM

My perspective is coming from a mother of a high schooler AND a high school teacher for the past 20 years.  I would look at the programs that your child is interested in and has the best opportunity at excelling in. My daughter is in the performing arts and so we sent her to a high school that has a good program.  She also is a very good student so the number of AP choices was a draw.  My sons are athletes so we are considering a little larger school for them that also has a strong AP program.

wakymom
by Silver Member on Nov. 3, 2013 at 4:33 PM

 We looked at the district as a whole before we moved to where we are now. Test scores, graduation rates, state ranking overall all played into our decision. Our district's test scores average above the national average and there is a high rate of parent participation. The high school is big w/o seeming too big (~1,800 students), offers a good selection of classes, has a lot of extra-curricular opportunies, and has not only a very good athletic dept, but also a very good performing arts program (learned last month that at least the valedictorian or saludatorian, and sometimes both, have been in either band or orchestra since 2007).

Downside- they are not really up-to-date w/ their wi-fi network, but since not all students need that for classes, it's not too big an issue right now. Another thing has more to do w/ how the state funds the districts, not the school itself; the worse a district does, the more money it gets, so we're constantly penalized for doing well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

juno1
by Lise on Nov. 3, 2013 at 5:39 PM

My teens go/went to a Charter school with an emphasis on real world connection and project based learning.

It is a different kind of place and while I am pefectly happy with it, it is hard for some parents to wrap their arms around this type of education.


Real world connection- The projects that they do are supposed to have real world connection. For example:  They teamed up with a 'sister school' in Uganda.  One of the big problems they have is getting clean drinking water.  Our kids were given the supplies that these kids ( in Uganda) can get and created a cheap and effective method of making clean safe drinking water. They drew up the plans and shared it with the school.

Depth of learning:

There is great depth of learning in the project based environment.   What you learn, you learn well, and deeply.  However, you simply cant get thru 300 pages of history in a semester.  So there may be some holes in what they learn.  

Presentations of Learning:

Part of their final is a Presentation of Learning (POL) wherein the students have to present what they learned in front of a panel, including their peers, advisors, parents and people from the community.  They present and then take questions. The kids graduating morph ( for the most part) into eloquent speakers that are used to getting up in front of a group and giving a speech.

Team work:

Because much of it is project based there is a lot of teamwork.  This teaches them not only the material that they need to know but how to work in groups, how to take leadership roles in some cases and let others lead in others.


Blocks:

Large block of time are given to each class. So they will not have 5 or six classes a day.  They will have three, usually at most.  Spending usually 1:30 to 2 hours in each class.  This allows them to delve deeply.  Classes switch off on different days.

Some of the drawbacks:

Not a lot of AP courses

Because it is  small ( only 400 students) there isn't a lot of class choice as there would be in a school that enrolls 2,000.

Kids that are not motivated, or not self starters can struggle in this type of environment.  This calls for kids who really own their education as opposed to just going thru the motions.

The last drawback is the conversations with those moms (who know it all) and are aghast at this different type of education...and wonder, right in front of you why you are allowing them to get such a 'bad' education....sigh.....  That....is the biggest drawback! :)

Bottom line...different kids thrive in different environments.  Take your child to see different types of schools.  One school, one style might speak to him....and if he buys into his school and education you are halfway there.  

Jessiejack
by Silver Member on Nov. 3, 2013 at 8:11 PM

We looked at academics, sports and music. In that order. We don't have many choices so we went out of district and we have to drive her every day and pick her up. Also we have no vote because we don't live in town and I can help but can not serve on a parent group.

boys2men2soon
by Kimberly on Nov. 3, 2013 at 8:23 PM


Quoting Not_A_Native:

We shopped for a house based on school districts when we moved here, long before any of the kids were in high school.

I looked for high test scores.  High parent participation.  Low number of free/reduced lunches (which means also less tax money).  Large numbers of AP classes available.  Ranking in the US News and World Reports of best high schools in the country. High particpation in community events.

This is how we chose our home, too.    Our oldest was only a year old!




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