Follow this checklist while choosing your children’s high school

K P Sheeja
May 20, 2021
Admission Tips

An excellent education can give your child a chance to have a bright future. Most teenagers make up their minds about college education and career path while in high school. Therefore, it is best to take your time as a parent to choose the best school for them. At this age, it’s not really about the type of school; it’s about the child’s interests and if the school you choose can help your child grow in that direction. 

Here’s a checklist to help you make the right choice:

1. Academic programs being offered

Different schools have a variety of programs. However, it is essential to know your child’s interests to help you narrow down the search. The different high school programs include; 

● Dual enrollment – A student is allowed to take high school and college courses simultaneously. The credits will go on their college transcript and add towards their high school graduation grades.

● Advanced placement – This program allows students to take college courses and exams while in high school. Top scoring students can then be placed in leading universities even before finishing high school.

● International baccalaureate – High school students take part in an advanced two-year program where they take college courses. It makes the transition to higher education more effortless, and students graduate with an IB diploma which can get them employment after high school.

● Career Technical Education (CTE) – This helps students gain academic and technical knowledge in different career clusters.


Some programs are only suitable for specific careers. Some high schools can offer advanced placements for science students only, which is useful if your child is interested in the sciences. When going to choose a high school, ensure that the school’s academic program will provide related opportunities in your child’s area of interest. 

2. How is the school environment?

Children spend almost half their lives in school. Aside from getting the best education available, you want to ensure that your child will be in a safe and friendly environment. Pay attention to how you are received from when you enter the gate to the administration office. As you walk around the school and ask questions, do you feel valued and respected as a potential new parent and as a human being? Pay attention to how the school staff relate with each other and with the students. Take a tour of the classes, labs, dining hall, playground, gym and washrooms to check if they are clean and organised. How safe is the environment? Are the fire exits accessible to the students? Is there a school nurse and a guidance counsellor? A safe, healthy, and friendly environment plays a vital role in all students’ academic success. 

3. College attendance and graduation rates

Before you decide to start, visit schools, do your research on all of them. Of course, your decision should not be determined by the statistics you find, but it is good to have a general idea of the school performance. Children today are exposed to so much knowledge at a young age through technology. A child can learn how to do anything today if they watch enough tutorials on YouTube. While dropping out of school is a personal choice for most students, you still want to be sure that the school you choose is well equipped to advance students to the next stage of their lives. The best way to know is by checking the graduation and college attendance rates of a school. 

4. Extracurricular activities

Besides the usual benefits of extracurricular activities such as improved academic performance, self-esteem, and social skills, co-curricular activities are essential to high school students for other reasons. The first is college applications. For some universities, extracurricular activities will account for 30% of a student’s application. A college needs to see that a student has gone beyond expected in their area of interest. For example, if children want to study environmental science, it will help if a student indicates that they are in the environmental club.

Another place co-curricular activities will come in handy is when applying for a job. A student has limited work experience after high school. One thing the human resources manager will look at is an employees’ co-curricular activities. For example, if a student was in the debate club, it shows the manager that they are good at public speaking and great team players. An excellent high school will have a variety of extracurricular activities to choose from. A student should be allowed to explore all the areas they are interested in while in high school. 

5. Technology and resources

The world has gone digital. Today’s children are the most tech-savvy. Technology has influenced how things are done today, and the education system has not been left behind. From distance learning to virtual libraries and the latest lab equipment, the school you choose for your child must be equipped with the necessary learning technology being used today. Some schools give their students tablets or laptops to access their coursework and communicate with their teachers directly.

Schools that have integrated technology with education have fared well, especially during this time of a pandemic. The transition to virtual classrooms was relatively simple because both students and teachers were already using online tools and the school’s education portal to teach their students. A school that incorporates technology in learning also gives the students' enough knowledge of various industries’ different techniques. 

Read More: Benefits of Choosing a Private International School in Singapore

6. Cost and convenience

Schools cost money, some more than others. You want your child to get the best education, and a good education can sometimes be expensive. Private and international schools charge for tuition, among other things. Public schools are free, but there might be some hidden costs that you must cater for. The school’s price is mostly determined by the type of academic program they offer because every program requires different materials and staff. Here’s a tip that might help you if you are looking, old schools are more affordable than new schools.

It is not all about the money, though. Where is the school located? Is it convenient for you and your child? Will you have to pay an extra cost for school transport? A near school will make life easier for both of you. When you are too busy to pick your child from school, they can walk home with their friends. Going to parent-teacher conferences will not be too stressful either.

If you are a new parent, it is essential to determine whether there is a parent group or association where you can learn more about the school. Get to know how involved you can be in your child’s education and learning activities. Parents can also plan school events and leadership meetings that can affect your child’s learning experience at the school. 

Remember, academic excellence is essential, but it is better to find a school that focuses on the whole child. You want your child to be smart but also to be a valuable member of society.

K P Sheeja

Is the Academic Supervisor for CBSE at the GIIS SMART Campus. One of the pioneer generation of teachers with GIIS, she comes from a family of educators and has been teaching English to students for the past 25 years. She believes her job as a teacher also includes mentoring and being a friend to her students.

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