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Finding the Right Private School is Like Planning a Wedding

Like many of you have in the past or are currently, I am planning a wedding. Perhaps it is because I am a Senior Associate Director of Admission at a New England private school or just a true nerd at heart, but I can’t help but feel distracted by how similar mapping out my wedding is to how families organize their private school application process.

The realization came to me when I was putting together a spreadsheet to organize all the details of “the big day.” Many of the tabs in my spreadsheet are similar to those I would create if I were to map out the boarding school search for a prospective student.


The average wedding in America, according to The Knot’s Annual Real Wedding Study in 2015, cost $32, 641. This is not an amount the majority of Americans spend thoughtlessly. In New England, the cost for a private day school could be $34,930. Most families must deeply consider the value they attach to a private education, just as they would the value of “the big day.” With weddings, if cost is a consideration planners can call vendors and negotiate the best price or tailor the day to fit the financial reality of the couple. For private schools, parents can call the Admission Office and ask for the Director of Financial Aid. Every school is different but some will offer academic or merit based scholarships. Many schools, like Cheshire Academy, may take into consideration the financial need of the family and potentially offer an award to help make school more affordable.


When do we want to get married? What makes the most sense for us? When a student attends private school is a significant factor for families to consider. Not all students are interested in a four-year private school education. Some students may decide on a Post Graduate year, while others may choose a middle years program that ends in grade nine. This can tie back to the previous category of budget. Maybe it makes more financial sense for a family to invest in one year, while others may feel more comfortable with the continuity of four.


My fiance is from Connecticut and I am from Massachusetts, so naturally we have discussed what location is best for our needs. We want to consider ease of travel, something many families consider when deciding on a private school. Where their child is educated, and in the case of boarding, living, is often important to families. Some things to consider include proximity to airports and other public transportation, commuting distance, and even weather.


While many people know that weddings have a theme--rustic, elegant, or even beachy-- not everyone knows that private schools can also have themes. Some schools are known for their challenging academics, while others are known for their sport programs or even their religious focus. At Cheshire Academy, our school is known for being student-centered, which means that students direct their learning environment in flipped classes, International Baccalaureate courses, and more. We also encourage students to try new things and discover new interests, so we offer a range of programs for students at all levels.

The more planning I do for my own wedding, the more I realize how much planning a wedding has in common with choosing a private school. Families need to think about budget, date, location, and theme when deciding on a private school, just like brides and grooms. Are you planning your wedding, or private school experience? Let me know in the comments!

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Sarah Thompson

Written by Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson is the Senior Associate Director of Admission at Cheshire Academy and loving dog-parent to her golden retriever, Moose.

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