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Preparatory schools exist to prepare their students for college (hence, the full name of “college preparatory schools''). Prep schools can help students do most of the legwork done for college before they walk across the graduation stage. Prep schools are an investment in the future for any family, so it’s important to understand the biggest priorities these schools should have. If you’re considering prep school for your child, here are a few things to look for in your search:

Academic rigor that challenges students

College courses aren’t easy, but prep schools should provide an academic rigor that lays the groundwork for students to excel despite the challenging loads. Effective curriculum is strategically designed with a purpose, keeping the end goal of collegiate-learning in mind. Yes, prep schools should follow the national and state standards for coursework, but they should go beyond meeting base standards. Classes, units and lesson plans should all work together to ensure students are competitively prepared for college and beyond.

When it comes to assessments, “teaching to the test” isn’t enough for an exceptional prep school. Assessments should work to enhance critical thinking, challenging the extent of a student’s knowledge and encouraging students to apply previous knowledge to solve problems in a comprehensive way.

Character development

Education goes further than learning curriculum. Character education incorporates values, ethics and emotional maturity throughout studies. These moments are rarely straightforward lessons on “how to be a better person.” They’re interwoven in classroom discussions, literary analysis, and experiencing arts and sciences through the eyes of unique perspectives. We believe schools do more than get kids ready for college. Preparatory schools play a fundamental role in preparing the next generation of leaders, and thus should encourage students to become well-rounded, passionate adults who can shape the world. Great schools foster compassion, integrity, and an insatiable curiosity to serve the greater good.

Beyond personal development, prep schools should have strategies for building community and culture among students and faculty. From regular events to team building opportunities, a leading prep school knows that while individual success is great, the school shines brightest through collaboration. Ask a potential prep school “how would you describe your community?”, and pay close attention to that answer.

Esteemed and supportive teachers, faculty and staff

Leading prep schools will have standards for teachers that are above-average. Ask a potential prep school how they evaluate their instructors and what the academic backgrounds are for most of the faculty. Prep schools should also invest in professional development and frequently celebrate instructor successes.

Thriving alumni environment

As previously mentioned, prep schools can help students leapfrog into thriving collegiate experiences and even stellar career opportunities. Great prep schools will have an active alumni network that keeps tabs on each other and upcoming graduates. These alumni networks can offer help with resume and portfolio development to post-college connections. Healthy alumni networks are a natural result of former students loving their prep school experience so much that they want to give back.

Plethora of diverse extracurricular opportunities

High-quality schools develop not only the academic abilities of their students but also offer extensive extracurricular opportunities. These activities allow students to pursue their passions, explore new talents, and grow their perspective while unveiling new possibilities. From leading theater programs to forensics tournaments, the best schools will open doors for students to showcase their skills in authentic ways both within the school walls and outside in the community.

Effective college readiness plans

The best schools have strategic plans in place to prepare students for college and/or the career of their choice. (After all, it’s in the name!) Available programs can support students as they prepare for the ACT/SAT and provide interest surveys that expose students to possible career pathways. At Trinity Prep, for example, the College Counseling Office helps ensure tahta 100 percent of graduates continue their education at the college of their choice. We start the process well before students get to their senior year, offering workshops to 9th graders to prepare them for the future.

Trinity Prep offers your child the opportunity to thrive in a challenging, diverse environment. Want to see for yourself what sets Trinity Prep apart from other Orlando private schools? Schedule a tour or give our admissions team a call at 321-282-2515.