What Questions Should I Ask When Visiting A School?

parent meeting with school administrator

Choosing a school for a child is an important decision, one that can impact the future direction of that child’s academic journey.  Education shapes the child and contributes significantly to how they learn, what most interests them, and how they inform their decision making as adults.

Knowing the child, how he or she best learns, and what environments they respond to best are essential elements in a parent’s decision.  Here is a list of questions a parent may want to ask a school they are considering.

1.  What Is The Schools Philosophy or Vision?

Having a clear understanding of a school’s vision allows families to balance that against their educational beliefs and values.  To prepare before visiting the candidate school, visit their site.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • What is the single most crucial aspect of the school’s philosophy?
  • What values set this school apart from other schools?
  • In implementing this vision, what is the school’s biggest challenge in accomplishing the said goal?

The Vanguard School Mission Statement

The mission of The Vanguard School is to help guide students in development of their character and academic potential through academically rigorous, content-rich educational programs.  The Vanguard School’s students develop lifelong habits of excellence in virtue and intellect, allowing them to prosper as classically-educated individuals advancing a free society.  Our enduring, nationally acclaimed program prepares graduates for advanced education, meaningful contributions to society, and a life of purpose.

2.  What Curriculum Does The School Use?

Any school should be happy to provide a detailed overview of their curriculum and be able to explain how the curriculum contributes to the long term goals for each student in terms of academic achievement and character development.

Key Questions to Ask

  • Does the school’s curriculum have specific curricular approaches, such as Montessori, Classical, Waldorf, or others?
  • How does the curriculum address government-mandated learning standards?

Academic Curriculum at The Vanguard School

The academic curriculum at The Vanguard School is based on the Hillsdale Academy Model, which is rooted in liberal arts.  This curriculum provides a solid academic base upon which our students achieve success in higher education endeavors.

The Vanguard School students are required to take college-preparatory courses in English, math, history, science, a world language, and Latin.  Students devote a portion of their time to study hall, and a mentor is assigned to each student to help them prepare for future academic goals.

This curricular model, employed by The Vanguard School, has consistently resulted in high test scores among its students in preparation for college.

3.  What Certifications and Qualifications Do Teachers Have?

A school’s vision and curriculum success are directly dependent on the quality and relevance of the training and qualifications of every teacher.

Key Questions to Ask

  • What are the qualifications all teachers possess that conform to the school’s curriculum?
  • What is the professional development process for staff?
  • What kind of background does the school look for when recruiting a teaching professional?

4.  How Does the School Guide and Prepare Students for College and Their Career Path?

Given ample time each day spent with a student, a school should take an active role in shaping the a student’s character, not just their academic knowledge.

Key Questions to Ask

  • What is the school’s process for preparing each student for college?
  • What percentage of students go on to college each year, on average?

Student Success at The Vanguard School

The Vanguard School is proud to see many students move on to high performing colleges in the area, such as Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley.

5.  Does the school provide help with the college application process?

A well-qualified school should also play a significant role in assisting the child in finding the right college.

Key Questions to Ask

  • How would the school describe college counseling services and opportunities for scholarships?
  • How does the school fulfill expectations regarding the college admissions process?
  • What percentage of students are accepted to their first school of choice?

College Preparation at The Vanguard School

The Vanguard School prepares each student for college, not just through its Classical Educational curriculum, but also with its college counseling team.  Counselors work in close coordination with parents and staff to help students identify potential academic and career paths.  This process occurs throughout high school so that each student’s progression can remain in line with their ultimate academic goals for higher learning.

The Vanguard School offers the following services:

  • Visits from college admissions representatives
  • ACT/SAT preparation information
  • Financial aid and scholarship information
  • Resource books on colleges and careers

6.  What Extracurricular Activities Does the School Offer?

In producing a well-rounded student with real intellectual and creative depth, The Vanguard School offers a wealth of extracurricular activities in areas of academics, leadership, community service, and much more.

Key Questions to Ask

  • How would the school describe the extracurricular programs offered?
  • What factors determine what kind of extracurricular activities the school offers?

Extracurricular Activities at The Vanguard School  

The Vanguard School offers a variety of extracurricular activities that provide student leadership opportunities such as student government, National Honor Society, and Rotary Youth Leadership; social events such as the high school retreat, homecoming week, and Christmas festivities; and community service projects such as the Thanksgiving food drive, “Feed the Children” campaign, and the “Christmas Blessings” store.  Students also have the opportunity to join a variety of clubs and fine arts programs.

7.  What Athletic Sports Does The School Have?

Athletics is an influential contributor to the well-roundedness of any student.  A conditioned mind is as crucial as a cultivated spirit.  Look for a school that offers a variety of athletic opportunities to fit the varying tastes and interests of each student.

Key Questions to Ask

  • Will the school provide a list of the sports programs offered?
  • What is the school’s approach to sports? How does the school’s athletic approach contribute to the overall character of the students?

Athletic Sports at The Vanguard School

The Vanguard School is a class 3-A school, competing in the Tri-Peaks League.  They offer a variety of sports activities such as track and field, soccer, lacrosse, basketball, cheer, volleyball, and more.

8.  What Cultural Opportunities Does The School Offer?

Cultural opportunities are another vital component in shaping a student’s educational character.  Exposure to cultural enrichment further contributes to the well-roundedness of a student.

Key Questions to Ask

  • Does the school have a study abroad program, cultural development program, or foreign language classes?

Cultural Opportunities at The Vanguard School

The Vanguard School offers a two-week summer abroad program for students looking for more cultural enrichment in addition to the foreign language classes the school provides.

9.  Does the school offer AP or honors courses?

Many students are capable of studying at an advanced level, which positions them well for dual enrollment opportunities in college accredited courses.

Key Questions to Ask

  • What college accredited classes does the school offer?
  • How does the school identify accelerated learners, and what program that adequately addresses their needs?

AP Courses at The Vanguard School

The Vanguard School offers 15 AP courses in a variety of subjects.  The AP participation rate at The Vanguard School is 79%.

10. What Are Some of the School’s Greatest Accomplishments?

Student success is highly dependent on the quality and well-roundedness of the school’s academic and extra-curricular approach.

Key Questions to Ask

  • What are academic awards commonly awarded to the students?
  • Does the school have some student success stories they can share with us?
  • Wholistically, what accomplishments is the school most proud of achieving?

Awards & Achievements at The Vanguard School

The Vanguard School is currently ranked #1 in Colorado Springs by U.S. News and as one of the top 25 high schools in the nation according toCLT national rankings.

11. What Are Some of the Academic Highlights?

Check key academic indicators of the school, such as SAT, ACT scores, yearly assessments, CSAP outcomes, math averages for the state of Colorado, or other indicators.

Key Questions to Ask

  • What are the average ACT scores at this school?
  • What percentage of students are above average in English, Mathematics, Science, and other fundamental subjects?
  • What assessment does the school most struggle with each year?

ACT & SAT Scores at The Vanguard School

In 2016, The Vanguard School ranked eighty-eighth percent nationally for the ACT, and the second-highest mean SAT score in the Pikes Peak region in 2018.

The Vanguard School

At The Vanguard School, we believe all aspects of learning addressed in the questions above deserve real consideration.  Here are some additional suggestions to help parents make an informed decision about our school.

In-Person Interview:

Meet with key staff and view the learning environment.  First-Hand experiences provide an impression that goes far beyond the words printed on a school’s website or brochure.

Informational Parents Night:

Another birds-eye view of our school’s approach and learning environment and a chance to ask personalized questions.

Student Shadow Day:

Potential students have the opportunity to shadow a current student from The Vanguard School and attend all classes and activities.

Application Process

Admissions begin at The Vanguard School online student application.  Next, schedule a visit and tour, join us for a shadow day, or attend one of our information nights.  After that, students take a placement test.  Once the placement test is complete, parents will be contacted with the enrollment decision.

Start the Application Process

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