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How to Choose a Private High School

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How to Choose a Private High School
High School

7 Key Questions to Answer
My brother’s son is in fifth grade and is starting to think about which high school is “right” for their family. In today’s private school market, the process of choosing the school that fits your family’s needs and style is nothing short of an art-form. Fortunately, this medium can be learned by just about anyone.

What’s your motivation for a private school education? This is the first question to ask when considering a private school education. Its answer reveals a lot about the parents and their hopes and dreams for their kids. For parents whose sole desire is to help their kids get into an Ivy-league college, private school may be helpful in this regard, as long as the child works hard and is responsible. Other families have a faith-based motivation for private schooling and so opt out of the public school system in favor of traditional values and a consistent process of discipline.

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Some parents are looking for the school to provide structure and discipline which is not provided at home. This, I have found, is an unrealistic expectation. To expect a teacher to “undo” over twelve years of upbringing isn’t a fair expectation.

How far are you willing to travel? When I lived in New Hampshire, there were only four parochial high schools for the entire state. Some families would travel 45-50 minutes each way to school. What about you? Are you willing to add drive-time to your day? Can you be comfortable with your child when they get their license and handle the same commute in the 11th and 12th grades? How will the added driving expense affect your budget? The answers to these questions are as much about lifestyle as they are about educational expectations.

How much can you afford? Obviously an important question! I have seen countless families commit their teen to a private high school, only to have the school ask them to leave due to missed tuition payments. This places undue stress on the child and hardship on the family in the long run. If you can’t afford the tuition plus added expenses of books, technology and sports fees, better to go the public school rout.

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What are your child’s needs? Children have particular wants and needs when it comes to a high school education. Some are so gifted athletically that they may choose for a private school that can coach them into professional sports. Others have a deep aptitude for science and choose a school that can focus his talents into an engineering path. Still others have children who need extra time, attention and resources and choose a high school accordingly.

Which values are at the top of your list? Why not sit down with your son or daughter and ask them to write 10 things down which are important for them in a high school. Encourage them to list everything from big lockers to fun dances to a fantastic art program. Parents should do the same thing and then compare your lists. Having a frank conversation about what’s important for parents and children is important.

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How long a honeymoon will you endure? As it will take one to two years of research, Shopping around and open houses to attend, your decision should be given some time to play itself out. Don’t let one negative interaction with one secretary undermine several years of thoughtful discernment. On the other hand, if you see a pattern of poor communication or worse yet, irresponsibility on the part of the school administration, a red flag may be emerging. I recommend giving the school one to two years of honeymoon time.

What kind of parents help you feel at home? Let’s face it- not everyone is comfortable in every situation. If you feel out of place with the kind of people who are also part of the school community, it might not be the school for you. The key is in finding a school that helps you to feel at home. After all, your son or daughter will be spending four years there so comfort becomes a very important factor.

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Mike St. Pierre is the Dean of Students at Oratory Preparatory School and blogs regularly at thedailysaint.com

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Last Updated on November 18, 2020

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

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15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

  1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
  2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
  3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
  4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
  5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
  6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
  7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
  8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
  9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
  10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
  11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
  12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
  13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
  14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
  15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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