What To Expect When Choosing Catholic School If You Are Not Catholic

If you have become disenchanted with the public school system, or have a spouse who is Catholic but you are not, you might be considering putting your children into Catholic school instead of mainstream public school. There are some differences between Catholic school and public school, and you might be worried about preserving your own faith or beliefs if your kids are going to a school controlled by a specific religious sect. However, Catholic schools can be very beneficial for students of all backgrounds; you just need to be aware of the differences so you know if Catholic school will be the best fit for your kids. 

Learning about religion and the Catholic faith will be part of the curriculum. 

Catholic schools will instruct kids on the secular aspects of the Catholic faith. While many schools will not push conversion onto students, you should be aware that information about the catholic faith and its doctrine will be part of the curriculum. This education can broaden your child's view of religion and help them to understand others, especially if they come from a different religious background.

Some schools will also encourage or require students to attend Mass. If you are okay with your child experiencing religious ceremonies from another faith, this could benefit them, as Mass can expand their cultural understanding and help them progress in the liberal arts; Latin and traditional music are part of regular Catholic Mass. Preparing to receive Sacraments is another big part of Catholic school. You can choose if your child will or will not receive them, but he or she will still learn about them and what they are for. 

Schools may have stricter dress codes or behavior standards.

Some schools might require uniforms. Others will help to enforce the Catholic ideology by providing a sort of "honor code" for kids to follow. This can be helpful to you even if you are not Catholic, but still have strong moral guidelines for your children. Basic principles like honesty, spirituality, modesty, and chastity will be more encouraged than they would be by public schools.

Some Catholic schools will offer fewer electives, but have a stronger focus on academic achievements.

Because of funding, a Catholic school may offer fewer elective courses like shop classes or woodworking, but will instead focus its energy onto achieving high levels of academic success. If your child is gifted and excels at languages and math, you should look into the academic records of Catholic schools in your area. Usually, Catholic schools have higher scores on college admission and aptitude tests than public counterparts. 

There is a good chance that your child might receive better programs for his or her areas of interest. On the contrary, if your child enjoys school mostly for sports and funded extracurricular activities, a Catholic school may not have everything to offer in those areas, or they may cost more than they would at public school. 

Catholic schools are community focused.

If you want a more active role in your child's education, then a Catholic school might be the right choice for your family. Catholic schools are likely to integrate with the parish and community, both in service and in funding, and strongly encourage strong families and secure homes for their students. Catholic schools try to supplement tuition with fundraising and parish donations, so community involvement is encouraged and needed in order for families to feel the need to contribute to the school's programs. 

Choosing whether or not to send your child to a school based in a specific religion can be tough-- but many non-Catholics are choosing this route. In 2014, over 16% of students at Catholic schools were from other religious or non-religious backgrounds. However, when you meet with and tour the Catholic schools in your area, you will be able to ask questions about the hopes and expectations you have for your child's education.