Selecting the right cram school

… this segment follows on from the article Provincial cram schools slashing prices

In these circumstances, how should we choose a cram school for our children?

Financial planner Yuichiro Ichikawa, an expert on educational issues, points out the importance of making the correct decision at the outset.

“If you change cram schools halfway through [a course], it’ll cost you more in additional admission fees and other charges. So it’s important to select the right school the first time round,” he said.

As an increasing number of cram schools now offer trial lessons or chances to observe classes, these options should be taken advantage of in reaching a decision.

Another important advantage of deciding on a school early on is that students will not have to waste time taking unnecessary lessons to find out if the school is any good. It also expands the chances of utilizing cut-rate package plans with special lessons or for getting early bird discounts.

But Manabu Nokura, president of Valxl Co., which runs a Web site specializing in middle school entrance exams and other school-related information, points out that it is also necessary to consider the total burden of educational costs, including the expenses necessary once students enter a school.

“Generally speaking, private middle school tuition fees are higher than those of public schools. In some cases, though, students at private schools don’t need to attend cram schools since their school curriculum is more comprehensive than the curriculums of cram schools,” he said.

Meanwhile, private middle schools that are part of combined middle and high schools have the advantage that the students do not need to study for high school entrance exams, he said.

According to a survey by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, expenditure on cram schools for third-year students at public middle schools averaged about 260,000 yen a year in fiscal 2006, while the corresponding amount for private middle school students was about 150,000 yen a year.

Daily Yomiuri (Dec. 5, 2009) URL

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