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The One Essential Question to Ask When Choosing a School
Natalie Pfister, Enrollment Director
The most essential question to ask when choosing where your child will spend his or her most formative years is
'Who will my child become?'

Your child is unique. Choosing a school that is just the “right fit” for your student and family is both a very significant and yet deeply personal decision. Not to mention, Cincinnati is home to several outstanding public and private school options, so the landscape can feel overwhelming. Knowing the right questions to ask as you embark on your search is a critical piece of the process. After all, your child will spend over 1,000 hours/school year with the teachers, classmates, and staff of the school you choose, and in some cases will spend more waking hours at school than at home. The influence of the school environment on a child’s growth and development cannot be underestimated.

We find that the simple, yet profound question of Who will my child become? is often overlooked amid the obvious inquiries parents make about safety, class size, student-to-faculty ratio, number of AP classes offered, and cost. And while those are all important considerations, beyond the numbers are countless stories. Stories of intellectual and character development. Stories of connection and growth. Stories that are each unique, yet weave together to tell a beautiful, bigger story that serves as the heartbeat of a school.

In the midst of seeking the answer to Who will my child become?, there are questions that help you uncover how your student will be shaped by a school’s ethos, values, environment and culture. Based on several collective years of interviews, tours, and conversations with families in search of the right fit school, our team developed this list of questions that can feed your decision for who will partner with you most effectively to guide who your child will become.

  • How will the school encourage my child to love learning and become an agile, independent, critical thinker?
  • Your son or daughter will spend more waking hours at school than with you. How will he or she flourish academically, socially, and spiritually as a result of enrolling at this school? Would I want to be a student at this school?
  • Will my child be challenged to learn from others who are different from him/her? In what ways will they be stretched to get outside of their comfort zone and grow in their understanding of other viewpoints and cultures?
  • What is the school’s mission statement? Do I agree with their philosophy and approach to teaching?
  • Consistently we hear that a top priority for parents is a desire to see their children flourish in their gifts and talents, both within and outside of the classroom. What extracurricular activities are offered to hone those interests or to offer my child the opportunity to try new things? Are these offerings operating at a high caliber and accessible to all students?
  • How does the school define a successful graduate? Beyond academic success, in what other ways does the school come alongside students to prepare them for a fulfilling and meaningful life of purpose?
  • If a faith-based education is important to you, how will the school challenge my child to grow spiritually? How is faith integrated into the curricula?
  • In what ways will the school equip my child to be fully prepared for college and beyond?
  • What distinctive academic opportunities (programs, environments, tools) exist at the school that will uniquely engage and challenge my student?
  • How does the school engage parents in both the community and the learning process?
     

Simply put, the school experience should be so much more than just checking off boxes in anticipation of a diploma. Given the right environment, school has the potential to be the cultivating ground for young people of promise to launch into the world, fully prepared for significant impact and influence. It should be the place where students are challenged to think deeply and serve each other well. Most importantly, it should be the place where, as you ask, "Who will my child become?", you watch them discover and become the unique person God made them to be. 

Want to learn how Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy answers these questions? Contact admissions@chca-oh.org

About the Author

Natalie Pfister serves as the Director of Enrollment for Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (CHCA).  Working in this role since 2008, she has counseled hundreds of families during their school search process. "Welcome" is in her DNA and when she is not welcoming families to CHCA, you may find her opening her home and extending a welcome to those who have been marginalized in society. She has a passion for great food and cooking for others gives her a special joy.  She resides in Loveland, Ohio with her husband and four children.