When considering a new school for your student, the options may seem limitless. The two major categories of schools are public schools and private schools. I want to focus on some of the pros and cons of private school so you can weigh the question: Is private school worth it to you?
1. Smaller Student Teacher Ratio
The biggest benefit that private schools have over public schools is a smaller student teacher ratio. While this ratio varies from school to school, most of them aim to have it as low as possible. It’ll range from schools with a ratio of 10:1 all the way down to 2:1 like The Tenney School. A smaller ratio also means that the classes are more individualized and focused per student. This is perfect for students who have a learning difference, are gifted, have anxiety, etc. Private schools tend to offer more accommodations as well. Especially if they have a lower student teacher ratio. We recommend discussing with your student what their learning preferences are. Some students prefer a one-to-one learning setting while others prefer a larger school environment. Each student is different and thrives in different environments.
2. Higher Academic Standards
Many private schools consider themselves as elite alternatives to public schools. While each private school is different, many pride themselves on their high staff qualifications and graduation rates. If a student is ready to be pushed academically, a private school could be the answer. Private schools can have specialties as well that prepare students for certain academic goals. College preparatory schools are one such example that aim to prepare students to get into the best colleges in the nation. While these schools have higher standards, the competition to get into them is often greater than a traditional private school.
3. Student Success Rates
Academics from the University College London’s Institute of Education have found that privately educated children can get up to two grades higher in their A-Levels than their state school peers.
Students attending private schools tend to perform better academically than those who are in public. While this does not mean that a public school student can’t be successful it does mean that private school students often have an advantage and access to resources that public school students do not.
1. The Price
It comes as no surprise that private schools can be expensive. It is the biggest blocker in the decision-making process for families. Fortunately many private schools have scholarship programs that can help lower this barrier of entry. While scholarships can make these schools more accessible, it still does not compare to public schools being free. The primary reason for private schools being so expensive is that they do not have state funding. This means the private school has to generate it’s funds through enrollment or fundraisers. While some private schools can be cheaper, chances are these schools have more active fundraisers to generate funds for the school.
2. Admissions Process
Unlike a public school where any student within a area code can enroll, private schools are not required to admit a student. This means no student is guaranteed an acceptance to a private school and said school can give any reason for not accepting a student (or in some cases no reason at all). In addition most private schools require students to submit some sort of standardized test scores. While the industry standard is the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE), many schools will also accept the PSAT, SAT, or ACT scores.
3. Higher Academic Pressure
The higher standards of private schools can be a double edged sword for students. While the academic standard is higher, this also increases the pressure for the student to perform well. Many students who have academic anxiety struggle in this type of setting as more pressure is put on things like test scores and grades. This is where it’s important to consider the type of private school before committing to applying. Opening a discussion with your student about their expectations and preferences at school can help guide you in the right direction.
Is Private School Worth It?
So now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of private school, let’s answer the question: Is private school worth it? Ultimately it depends on the student’s needs and preferences. Many students feel their potential is stifled in a large, public school environment. This is where a private school step in and match the students pace. Importantly, a smaller environment is more accommodating for students that may be have different learning preferences. We recommend checking out The Tenney School to see if a one-to-one individualized education is the right environment for you!