If you’re considering a private school, connecting with the school’s students and professionals by attending a school tour or an open house are wonderful ways to see if the school is the right fit for your child. Many metro Atlanta schools offer private tours, virtual tours, live video conferences, phone meetings and smaller open houses. Read Atlanta Parent’s Guide to Private School Admissions, Tours and Open Houses.

Start by doing your research. Narrow down the options until you have a short list of schools that seem the best for your child by looking at websites, FAQs, pre-recorded videos and social media pages.

Create a list of questions you plan to ask each school. What questions do you or your child have that you can’t find answers to on the website? Responses can help you narrow down or rank the school options that you’re interested in.

Schools may have different options that you can register to attend, with each session being important for different reasons. Pay attention to the options offered, so you can decide what makes the most sense for you to attend. Signing up for a phone conference may be a better fit before registering for a campus tour, if you decide your family is still interested in the school.

At a tour, whether it’s virtual or in-person, expect to tour the school, learn more about the community, talk to school professionals, and ask questions.

At an open house, expect to hear words of welcome from administrators and a plug from the PTA. Schools usually include a brief school history, an educational philosophy, a mission statement and a list of extracurricular activities or clubs. This overview period is a good time for parents to ask about the bus schedule, school lunches, physical education requirements, dress code and more.

After the school session, look at SAT scores, attendance records and grade-point averages. Follow up with phone calls and emails if you have questions.

If it’s not part of the tour, schedule a time to observe a class in session. This will give you a good idea of the teaching style and classroom setting. Are the desks arranged in groups or in rows facing the teacher? What materials does the classroom have for the students? Are the students enthusiastic about learning?

Talk to other parents about the school. Most parents are happy to share their thoughts.

Some schools offer programs that allow you and your child to learn more from a student’s perspective. If not, ask administrators if they can connect your child with a student at the school.

Look at the big picture. You may be hoping to stay with the system through high school, so research graduation and college placement rates. This information is usually found on the school’s website.

– Emily Webb and Alexi Wilbourn

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