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JMHS Blog

How To Choose A High School

Written by Nicole Dalbo on Friday, 19 August 2022. Posted in Helpful Tips

A woman and her son looking at a computer.

Thinking about how to choose a high school can actually be easier than you think when you know exactly what’s most important to you and your child. Make a list of what you want, and don’t want, in a school and start doing your research. Unsure of which questions to ask to get the information you need most? Check out our guide below on questions to get you started on your search for your child’s next school.

How do I choose the right school?

Thinking about how to choose a high school can actually be easier than you think when you know exactly what’s most important to you and your child. Make a list of what you want, and don’t want, in a school and start doing your research. Unsure of which questions to ask to get the information you need most? Check out our guide below on questions to get you started on your search for your child’s next school.

8 questions to ask when choosing a high school

Ready to get started? We’ve assembled these great questions to help you get a kick start in researching the best high school for your child and their educational needs.

1. What accreditations does the school have?

An accreditation is ultimately what makes a high school legitimate. In the United States, accreditation is the primary way that students, families, the public, and government officials know that an institution provides a quality education. Does the high school you’re looking at have accreditations? Are they regional or national accreditations, or both?

Both national and regional accreditations require rigorous reviews from the accrediting agency and must be renewed every few years to ensure that the school’s curriculum is up to date.

However, there are a few differences between the two.

A national accreditation means that the nationally accredited high school has met the standards in education set up by the United States government.

On the other hand, regional accreditation is a much more rigorous accreditation process than a national accreditation. For a school to qualify for regional accreditation, it means that a school’s offered curriculum offered meets or exceeds the same standards that must be met by every public or private school in your part of the country. The U.S. is divided into geographic areas, each of which have their own association, but the accreditation standards are the same from region to region.

Don’t be afraid to take a deep dive on the accreditor’s website to see what the accreditation is all about, and to see what they review in order to award a school with one. An accredited high school diploma can be the difference between your child getting into postsecondary education, the military, or even some career paths.

2. How much does it cost?

Affordability is something you’ll definitely want to keep in mind for your child’s education if they are stepping out of the public school system. You shouldn’t have to break the bank before they even hit college. You’ll want to check out how much the total tuition is, if they charge by semester, and if payment plans or discounts for paying in full are available.

Another important cost aspect is school supplies: are you paying for backpacks, notebooks, or possibly even textbooks? Always check to see what’s provided, and what you’ll need to supply your child with.

3. What educational resources are available?

Your child’s textbooks aren’t always going to have all the information they need in order to complete their more in-depth research projects. Will they have access to a library, or websites that have scholarly sources? Definitely ask the admissions counsellor of the school before getting your child started. Not only will these resources be able to assist with schoolwork, but they can also help satisfy your child’s curiosity on the topics that interest them.

4. What tutoring services are offered?

No matter where your student’s grades are now, high school is another level up from middle school. Classes will be more difficult, and in order to keep up their grades, they may need some extra assistance in understanding their lessons. Whether tutoring is offered by instructors, peers, or a dedicated tutoring team, it’s important to know what sort of support your child will have available.

5. Are advanced classes and honors recognition available?

School should be helping your child grow, not holding them back. If your child is a gifted student, you’ll want classes that can meet them at their level and truly challenge them. Check to see what type of advanced classes they can take, if they can qualify for an honors society, and if they’re recognized for their hard work through honorary titles—like summa cum laude and magna cum laude. All of these can help your child stand out when applying to colleges or careers out of high school.

6. Do students have the option to graduate early?

For parents, this question really is daunting. But it’s important to face the reality that your child is an adolescent and will be functioning as a young adult before you know it. Check out what Psychology Today has to say about the matter:

For parents, this push for early graduation can be difficult because the young person will be taking independence earlier than they anticipated. However, just because the school system is designed K - 12 doesn't mean that progress through the system cannot be accelerated where appropriate. After all, young people develop in adolescence at different rates and thus the timing of leaving the shelter of family often varies from one child to another.

If your child isn’t being challenged, or connects with older students that may graduate earlier than them, they may lose interest in school. An option to graduate early puts the pace of your child’s education in their hands and lets them spread their wings at a time that truly is right for them.

7. What is the schedule for classes?

You may be used to an early high school schedule growing up, but some schools are taking a modern approach on class times. One of the benefits of online school is that it can offer flexible class times for students that aren’t early morning risers. In fact, there have been multiple studies that suggest that teenagers are biologically programmed for later sleep and wake up times.

Scholars have found that a 7:00 alarm call for older adolescents is the equivalent of a 4:30 start for a teacher in their 50s. Schools that allow later or flexible school times can benefit your child by allowing them to learn when they are at their peak.

Isabella Lynch, James Madison High School’s 2022 Graduate of the Year Nominee had this to say about the subject: “I remember in the beginning, getting up in the morning to do school was a little bit of a challenge, but setting my own schedule helped with that a lot… [The self-paced program] gave me a lot more flexibility and gave me time to do other things outside of school which I can really appreciate.”

8. How does the school combat bullying?

No parent wants to hear that their child is being bullied, and that’s why it’s so important to see how a school not only reacts to bullying, but prevents it from happening. In an online school, something as simple as a moderated community can really help curb bullying and encourage social interactions in a safe environment.

What makes a good high school?

A “good high school” doesn’t mean going to the most prestigious and expensive school the world has to offer. Consider what makes sense for your child and their needs. That, ultimately, is what is going to be a good high school for your child.

Don’t forget to check in with your child to see if their current high school is a good fit. Although it may seem great when they first started, reality can often be different than what was initially expected. Even if they have already begun their journey, high school credit transfer to another school is always an option to keep your child happy and engaged with their education.

Transferring schools can be simpler than you think. If this is something you may be thinking about, check out our blog on how to transfer to online school for more information.

Is going to a good high school important?

No matter what, you’ll want your child to actually benefit from their education. If you haven’t done so lately, sit down with your child and have a talk with them about their future. Discuss with them why a high school diploma is important, what they want in their education, and if they have future careers in mind. If they’re unsure, that’s okay! They still have plenty of time to figure it out.

However, if they have a plan, it’s a good idea to do some research together and see what classes, accomplishments, and extracurriculars they’ll need to get them on the right path. Building your resume in high school is a smart approach when targeting college, the military, or future careers. As their parent, help your child match their interests, learning style, and career goals with a high school that is good for them.

Should I let my child choose their high school?

Letting your child choose their high school is definitely worth consideration. Ultimately, encourage asking them questions about their choice. Why do you want to go to this school? How do you think you’ll benefit? What does this school have to offer you? If they took the time to educate themselves and feel passionate about their decision, it’s important to take their wish seriously. It won’t be too long before your child is a young adult and making much larger decisions for themselves, and it’s important to guide them toward making educated decisions.

Start the process

You’ve learned how to choose the right high school, what questions to ask in your search, and even what makes a school good. With this knowledge, it’s time to start your research with your child to find that perfect fit. If you’re thinking that your child may benefit from an online school, we’ll even help you get started answering your first question: is James Madison High School legit? (The short answer: yes!)

Looking for answers to the remaining questions? No problem. Reach out to an Admissions Specialist today at for more information in helping your child own their education with JMHS.

About the Author

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo studied English Literature with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Scranton and is currently working toward her MS in Marketing. When she isn’t writing, Nicole can be found watching the newest Marvel movie, baking something sweet, or jamming out to live music.