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For more than 20 years we’ve worked with leading education and child development experts to explore and improve the school-choice process. The result is a robust suite of tools—used by over 2.6 million families every year—which enable you to choose your best-fit school among the 350+ profiled on this site.

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Academic Culture

Breaking down schools by academic culture

Find a list of schools

Through the collective mindset of teachers, administrators, students, and parents, each school develops and maintains its own academic culture. This generally relates to the norms and expectations created around academic performance.


Many parents look to private schools because they want a specific type of culture. Some want a rigorous environment that will elevate their child to new heights. Others want a nurturing environment that will help their child develop a passion for learning. You’ll find both types of schools in this guide. 

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Each school was asked to identify their own category, which you'll find identified on each school profile.

Rigorous

A school with a “rigorous” academic culture places a high value on academic performance, and expects their students to do the same. This does not mean the school is uncaring, unsupportive, or non-responsive—far from it. A school can have a rigorous academic culture and still provide excellent individual support. It does mean, however, the school places a particular emphasis on performance—seeking the best students and challenging them to the fullest extentrelative to a normal baseline. High expectations and standardsand a challenging yet rewarding curriculumare the common themes here.

See a list of schools with “Rigorous” academic cultures.

Supportive

A school with a “supportive” academic culture focuses more on process than short-term outcomes: academic performance is a welcomed side benefit, but not the driving focus. This does not mean the school lacks standards, or has low expectations for its students: a school can have a supportive academic culture and still light the fire of ambition in its students. It does mean, however, the school provides a less intensive culture than schools with a “rigorous” academic classification, and is focused more simply on instilling a love of learning and life-long curiosity.

See a list of schools with “Supportive” academic cultures.

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