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7 Things to consider when choosing a Catholic High School

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Choosing a high school is one of those decisions that carries a lot of weight. After all, the school you choose for your son or daughter will influence essentially every aspect of their lives. So how do you go about choosing the right school for your son or daughter?

Outside of the usual questions about class sizes, tuition, financial aid, proximity to your home, etc., here are seven “other” things to consider when choosing your Catholic high school.

1. How Catholic is it?

To us here at The Catholic Telegraph, the most important part of any Catholic school is that it is, well, Catholic.

How often do they celebrate Mass? Are sacraments frequently offered? Are teachers asked to sign an oath of fidelity to Church teaching? How do they incorporate the faith in subjects other than theology?

2. All the same gender, or mixed?

An all-boy or all-girl school proposes a unique dynamic for learning. Anything that helps your student focus on the purpose of their education – becoming the person God created them to be, learning to be a more full and complete person, and receiving a great education – is a plus. Could learning in an all-boy or all-girl environment help?

3. What are your priorities?

Make a list of what is really important to you. Athletics, technology, scheduling flexibility, AP or other advanced-course availability, faith-centeredness… these are just a start.

4. Are they preparing for a specific vocation?

Is your son or daughter set on working in design and needs an incredible art program? Is he or she set on engineering and needs the most advanced labs and technology?

This is a great chance to talk to your son or daughter about their dreams for their life. If they don’t have any, now is a great time to start dreaming together.

5. What’s on the reading list?

You can learn a lot about a person by walking into their house and seeing what is on their bookshelves (or their bedside table, or their kindle). The same is true for a school.

Mostly classics? Modern YA fiction? Theology and philosophy books? Digging deep into the reading list will tell you a lot about the school and the teachers that they probably don’t put on their website.

6. How does the school promote a balanced lifestyle?

This one is so important. Kids today just get slammed. Does the school value a balance of school work, extracurricular activities, service, faith and family values? Talk to the mentor families or the student guides on your visit day to learn about their daily schedule.

Here’s a general rule of thumb: 10 minutes times the grade level. That’s a fairly universal standard supported by the National Education Association. If a 10th grade tour guide (who should be spending about 100 minutes per night studying), tells you they have three hours per night, that might be a red flag.

7. Don’t let your kid make this decision alone.

Ask your son’s or daughter’s opinion. Include them in the decision-making process. But use this as an opportunity to teach your son or daughter HOW to make a good decision. And, while personal preference is a factor, it isn’t the only one and it isn’t the most important one.

This article was originally in the November 2019 Catholic Telegraph Edition.

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