If you’ve been in the public school system in the UK for a while, transferring to a private school can have both advantages and disadvantages. For example, the teaching is generally considered to be of a far higher quality, because that is what you are paying for, but that may mean that you may struggle for a while until you catch up. Nevertheless, there is no reason why transferring from a public to a private school should not be a positive experience.
Visit the school as much as possible
You should have the opportunity to visit the new school when you are interviewed. However, make sure that you have the chance to have a good look around the school in your own time, so that you know where everything is and get a feel for the place. Having the opportunity to talk to current students is even better. If you aren’t offered the time to meet other students, ask if something can be set up. Alternatively, ask around the neighbourhood and see if you can track down friends of friends whom you can approach. Knowing what to expect from the private school system will stand you in good stead.
Find out about courses in advance
You may find that the new curriculum is a little different from your former school’s curriculum and that the students are further ahead, or have been studying different things. This could particularly be an issue if you are changing schools part way through the year. Find out as much as you can about each of the courses you are planning to take – if you can sit in on a class or two, then even better. Then if you are concerned about keeping up with the others, you should have time to do a bit of extra reading and prepare yourself. The more prepared you are, the less stressful your experience of your first term will be.
Be prepared for peer pressure
In the UK, students who go to private schools are sometimes considered to be, or think they are, superior to those at public school. This could mean that old friends from public school could see you in a different light and aren’t interested in staying friends. On the other hand, students from your new school may look down on you, especially if you have won a scholarship and are not from a wealthy background. This can be confused at first, but hopefully, once you have settled in, it will no longer be a problem. Try not to get into arguments and be prepared to turn the other cheek to a bit of teasing, for the sake of old and new friendships.
Practice your study skills
Starting at a new school can be stressful, both because of the new classes and getting to know new people. You can help yourself substantially if you take a look at your study skills and work on ways to improve them. In the past, perhaps you have left your homework until the last minute and haven’t bothered to take notes in class; start making an effort to do so. You will be amazed at how much your school work improves and, in the long run, improved study skills will both save time and stand you in good stead for future study and work.
Ask for extra assistance
If you really find yourself struggling, don’t sit back and hope it will all go away; ask for some extra assistance. New classmates and teachers should be willing to help you, but if you are too shy to ask, at least speak to your parents and request that they speak to your teachers on your behalf. The sooner you ask for help, the sooner you will be able to make the most of the opportunity you have been given. If the issue is more that you feel you don’t fit in, again, talking to a sympathetic teacher should be of value. You may just need a helping hand to ease your fears.
Make the most of opportunities
Once you have finished your studies and are working for a living, you will probably find you don’t have the time or energy to enjoy all the experiences that a private school can offer. Private schools generally have access to much better facilities than public schools, so make the most of them while you can. Sign up for extra-curricular activities to make sure you have plenty to add to your resume when you go on to university or look for a job. Learn a new musical instrument or how to rock climb and make new friends at the same time.
Transferring from public to private school may be a nerve-wracking experience, but you will soon settle in and be able to make the most of your time there.