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All The Right Questions

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Last week I was talking with a family interested in Breck for kindergarten. When I asked if they had questions for me, they started with common questions such as: What is your average class size? Where do your students typically go to college?  How many AP classes do you offer?  What is the average ACT score for seniors? After asking these questions, the parents asked, “If you were in our position, what would you ask?”

While the first set of questions provides stats to help measure Breck against other schools, what it doesn’t illuminate is the value of the overall Breck experience. You need to dig a little deeper into numbers that speak to broader values and beliefs. If I wanted to truly understand a school’s impact on the lives of its students and families, I would ask about annual attrition. The average attrition rate at private schools in the Midwest is 9.7%. At Breck, annual attrition is 3% and that is mostly due to families moving out of the area. This low attrition rate speaks to the quality of a Breck education and the strength of our community.

Another good area to explore is alumni involvement. There are many statistics that attest to how alumni feel about Breck, but there are two that can be most telling. About 10% of our student population consists of children of alumni. Each year dozens of alumni share how critical Breck was in shaping who they are today, and want the same support and experience for their children. More impressively is the percentage of children of our alumni who enroll. This year, 100% of the alumni families who were offered enrollment accepted. Their belief in Breck is clear.

As you look at schools, you should certainly get all of the factual information like class size, college list and test scores. But don’t stop there. Be sure to ask questions that will tell you something about the value of the experience as seen through the eyes of current families and students, and those from years past.