How to Choose the Right Private / Independent School

It can become tedious to choose the best school for your daughter, understand the educational and co-curricular programs they offer and decide if it is a good match for your family. After so many years of helping families navigate these decisions, we have come up with a list of recommendations and tips on how to choose the right private / independent school.

One of the biggest questions that parents ask first is whether or not a private or independent school is right for their daughter and if she will benefit from individualized programming. The second question is if the cost is appropriate to the value of the education their daughter might receive and if it is worth the investment.

The process is quite similar for most families:

1. Identify Your Needs and Values

First, we encourage you to write down or type a list of needs and values that are important to you and your family before you start your search. Most importantly, we encourage you to look at the schools’ philosophy and check if it aligns with your own. How does the school's academic rigor and values compare to what you hope to instill into your daughter? Other questions such as, are you searching for a Catholic or non-Catholic school, a co-ed or an all-girls school? Do you have any particular programs that your daughter would like to explore further such as athletics, dance, or art? How far are you willing to travel daily to drop off or under sheltering-in-place circumstances, what does the schools’ remote learning program look like? 

2. Research Schools in Your Area

There are many private and independent schools in the Bay Area. Once you’ve narrowed down schools that meet your criteria, you can then start researching school websites. You can look out for information such as:

  1. Matriculation: what schools do the graduating students matriculate to? Matriculation into prestigious colleges can indicate a higher academic rigor and indicate a valuable investment into your daughter’s future. Some colleges also establish great relationships with schools because of their high academic reputations.
  2. Teacher-to-student ratio: it is proven that smaller class sizes help improve a student’s academic performance!
  3. Demographic information: what does the student body percentage look like? Is there a lot of diversity? Schools with various backgrounds means that your daughter gets a chance to be immersed in an inclusive, welcoming environment and will get various opportunities to participate.
  4. Gender perspective: are you looking to enroll your child into a co-ed or all-girls environment? An all-girls advantage creates a supportive and empowering environment for young women to discover new interests and feel a sense of self-assurance while devoting time to their academic, spiritual and personal growth.
  5. Support services: does the school offer individualized counseling or have an established college counseling program? These 1-on-1 support services can be very influential in the decisions a student will be making going into college.

Then, you can obtain general information about tuition costs and financial aid opportunities. Some schools offer great opportunities and scholarships to qualifying families.

Sites like can help to research the schools’ performance level based on report cards, academic rankings, statistics, and real reviews on over 250,000 U.S. K-12 schools.

You can dig deeper into the programming that is available at the school such as academic course offerings, co-curricular activities, and other opportunities for your daughter to explore. Being able to surround them with many opportunities can benefit their growth and development. In private / independent schools, for example, they might have greater opportunities to participate in leadership roles because the school population is not as large.

3. Contact the School and Obtain More Information

When you have narrowed down your list of schools, next comes time for an information session and other exploratory events such as Open House, Shadow Days, Informational Workshops or Virtual Tours. 

When it comes to decision-making time, no one knows your daughter the way that you do. We believe that a parents’ intuition is very natural and whatever decision you make, that it will be a positive choice for your daughter.

With all things considered, the final step is to sit down with your family and discuss what school your daughter wishes to attend and then begin the application process. Applications are generally submitted in December or January before the school year. You can start the application process and get closer to receiving that acceptance letter! The application process does take a few months, but an admissions member is available to answer any questions you may have.

Presentation High School has many resources available for families if you are exploring high schools for your daughter. Visit our Admissions page for more information about Open Houses, Shadow Days, Virtual Tours, and Informational Events. You can also see live matriculation stats from previous school years.

Presentation High School is an independent, college preparatory school for girls with a Catholic mission that fosters a lifelong sisterhood and develops courageous and compassionate leaders who are ready for college and life. Pres provides a well-rounded, faith-based experience that includes academic excellence, award-winning teams and clubs and individualized support where all are welcome. 


  • education
  • independent high school
  • private high school