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Is private school worth it?

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Replies to: Is private school worth it?

  • mamalionmamalion 735 replies26 threads Member
    amarylandmom said it well.

    As a single parent, I love the civility cultivated at our private school. Kids aren't always nice, but overall, most are respectful and gentle, even in middle school. I wonder about all the money I have spent, but my older daughter received so much financial aid at an elite (that she wouldn'tt have gotten into without the prep school) that I feel it was worth it.

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  • BestfriendsgirlBestfriendsgirl 931 replies4 threads Member
    edited May 2014
    Not all privates are better than public schools. A well funded public often has more options for top students and students with LD. A Small and not so well funded private school tend to have fewer course offerings and not as many ECs.
    I've found this to be true. Our Ss went to Catholic school K-8. For a variety of reasons, the local Catholic high school wasn't for us, so S1 went out-of-district to our state's top academic high school. He earned 28 college credit hours through AP classes, had much more variety in ECs and course offerings than he would have had at the Catholic HS and was much better prepared for college than a lot of his peers. But I really think they got a better foundation at the Catholic school than they would have at our neighborhood elementary. YMMV.
    edited May 2014
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  • gouf78gouf78 7870 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    It will always depend on the teachers--and good ones and bad ones are found no matter where you go. The main difference is that a private school can fire bad teachers. Parents have more say at a private school since they are paying the bills directly. But the bills are very high for that privilege.
    My son started private school in 7th grade. Wish he had been there a year earlier. The problem was that the public middle school just taught to the lowest common denominator with too much busy work and not enough actual learning. And I felt he just didn't have the best peer group. The private school had high expectations and it was worth it especially when he reached high school level. I think he's found college easier than many classes he had in HS. Learning how to study and write well have served him very well.
    Many families have their children at private Catholic schools here (more affordable) and some do move into other districts (and counties) to get into better school systems. The private school cost is so high that moving to get into a great public school makes good financial sense.
    That being said, our public system does have some fabulous teachers (some better than at the private) but unfortunately you can't always pick and choose.
    My best advice--volunteer at the school, get on a PTO board--put some time in at the school and see what goes on from the inside before plunking down big dollars for a private at such a young age.
    edited May 2014
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  • katwkittenskatwkittens 2273 replies41 threads Senior Member
    Did your senior go through the same system and is she graduating/graduated from your local public high school?

    After her gap year is she attending a college she was already admitted to this year and is deferring? Or has she not applied to college yet?

    Meaning have you and senior child gone through the application process this past spring......do you know how her schooling prepared her for college?

    Have you visited several privates and other publics/magnet/charter schools in your area so you know what is available?

    We are a family with 5 kiddos that all graduated from our local public school system, in the VERY rural south. Low SES school so high percentage of free/reduced lunch. Mine all did very well and spent a good portion of their time giving back within that local public middle and high school. They were given the opportunity to attend elsewhere and declined. They and I believed academics was just one part of attending school, the same theory applied when they were choosing colleges.

    The contributions they made to their schools and benefited not just others at their respective schools but helped to build their character and determine who they wanted to be. They received so much more in return. They realized that they could make a difference, even at an early age....and that started the ball rolling. Take advantage of opportunities that are presenting themselves.

    Whether that is to choose a new, better fit school for your younger daughter or moving and shedding some extra baggage (cars, big house to impress others) or making the school she is in a better school due to your and her participation and attendance.

    My kiddos were accepted to multiple ivy's, MIT, CalTech, service academies, OOS publics and in-state flagships with academic merit and athletic scholarships. All graduated from a very poor public school, one was valedictorian so good things can happen even at poor schools. Especially when the students have great role models as peers, success is contagious!

    Kat

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  • ProudpatriotProudpatriot 1538 replies12 threads Senior Member
    I have to say that you can afford private school. The question really is whether you want to spend the money or not. I can't answer than question for you. But to say you can't afford it is laughable.

    We have 3 sons. They are currently 20, 18, 15. The oldest is at Case Western. The middle will be attending Belmont. The youngest is finishing his freshman year at a private day school in Florida. Our kids have attended private school from 6th grade onwards. They attended a charter school from K-5 and we were very happy with that school. If we were not happy we would have moved them to private school.

    Private schools have students who want to do well in school. In most private schools it is "uncool" to get bad grades, not do your work, or be a behavior problem. As a result my kids were surrounded by kids who wanted to learn. Not every kid loves every subject but in general the atmosphere promotes learning. My kids are very studious kids who really love learning so being in an environment where learning was somehow not cool would have been torture for them.

    At our particular school kids are expected to do well in school AND to participate in some other activity at the same time. It is rare to come across a kid who only does well in school. My sons peers win national math/science competitions, win recognition at statewide academic competitions, compete for state titles in athletics, etc. Private school in general are full of student who are very accomplished in and outside of the classroom.

    In my opinion, this is the real benefit of private school. The benefit of private schools is that the community seeks excellence in many different areas. This is what your children will take away from private schools IF YOU PICK THE RIGHT ONE.

    There are mediocre private schools. If you are careful you can find an excellent one. As for not being able to afford private schools on a $300K income I say that is hogwash.


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  • prefectprefect 1264 replies17 threads Senior Member
    I think it's worth it if you choose the school wisely. In my opinion, you should be looking for an independent school, one that is a member of the national association of independent schools. The school should have admissions standards including testing, interviews, letters of recommendation, etc. there should be a board of trustees and an endowment.

    Most schools will have a profile where you can check college placement, test scores, etc. The advantage that the best private schools in our area have is class size, facilities, college counseling. The course rigor is much much higher than the best area public schools in the area and even better than the local community college. Overall, I would say the private schools have a better social atmosphere as well.

    If your goal is top college placement only, you may be disappointed. However, I would say that a B student at a good private school will have more options than a B student at a public school. Part of this might be due to the superior counseling at private schools and counselors advocating for individual kids. Mod course this is a lot easier to do when you're assigned to 15 kids vs 300.

    Most of the religious affiliated schools in our area are mediocre. They're more like public schools with Jesus instead of private schools and are more interested in religious instruction and indoctrination rather than pure academics,so if that's not your goal, proceed with caution. The Catholic schools tend to be less like this, but still aren't usually as strong as the secular independent schools.

    If you're thinking of switching your daughter to a private school look at the admissions stats. So e schools only accept kids at certain grades and some grades are much more difficult to get admitted to than others.
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  • AnnieBeatsAnnieBeats 1940 replies18 threads Senior Member
    @katwkittens We went through the application process with my oldest. We were fortunate that she went to an amazing public high school that was pretty small so she got the attention she needed. She went through the same public school system, but the administration changed to the poor administration that is there now. She will be attending Swarthmore after her gap year.

    Congratulations on the acceptances to those top schools :) That is wonderful!

    I have been browsing the websites for quite some time now, but haven't gone to the schools.

    Also, one fear that I have is that my d will begin to get a sense of entitlement. Some of my friends talk about how their kids felt as though they deserved to go to the top schools because they went to a top private. Not because they actually earned it. But it seems like you all have good experiences with your kids, so that shouldn't be a problem.
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  • AnnieBeatsAnnieBeats 1940 replies18 threads Senior Member
    @proudpatriot Well of course we can afford a year a private school right now, but in the long run, I'm trying to figure out whether it will be worth it. According to my calculations for the school I'm interested in, we would be paying $268,000 for my youngest to go private school through high school. But I have to consider the hefty price of Swarthmore, my middle child will be applying to college in about 5 years, we have a little bambino on the way... So there are a lot of huge financial commitments we have to prepare for.

    It's actually kinda scary when you add things up. I don't even want to think about how much I'm paying for all of this. I might pass out when I try to add it all together.
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  • katwkittenskatwkittens 2273 replies41 threads Senior Member
    Sounds like you already have your answer.

    Kat
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  • oldfortoldfort 23467 replies308 threads Senior Member
    You are going to have 4 kids to put through college, large house and toys, unless your h salary going to continue to go up, I think you would be stretching it.
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  • AnnieBeatsAnnieBeats 1940 replies18 threads Senior Member
    @katwkittens @oldfort I'll just join the school board and really push for better conditions then. There are some really great benefits to a private education, but I guess I'll have to either find a much more affordable option, or stay public.
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  • 2018dad2018dad 1175 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Don't be that parent that sent his/her kid to private school from K to 12 then after high school complained that the kid can't go to a 4-year college because they can't afford it.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83431 replies741 threads Senior Member
    Time to read The Millionaire Next Door and give it to your status-symbol-obsessed husband to read when you are done.

    Being financially pinched on a $300,000 income means is not a good place to be with respect to household running costs and spending habits.
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  • menloparkmommenloparkmom 12694 replies551 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    Is the area where you live attracting more upscale patents who also want to see improvements in the local schools? What is the public HS in your district like?
    If both the HS as well as elementary school are currently not well run or do not offer the educational opportunities you seek , then private schools, at least through elementary school, may be the way to go.
    Our DS was a gifted learner, and though we lived right across the street from the elementary school, I knew it was not the place for him. 20 years later, it now is one of the top ES's in N .Calif and parents snap up homes here when they become available . The demographics in our area changed a LOT, and that drove improvements in the public schools, because the new parents demanded them and came up with the $$ via fundraising efforts and bond sales to fund the improvements they wanted.
    edited May 2014
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30394 replies59 threads Senior Member
    It was worth it to me to send all of our kids to private school and my parents should have with my brothers and me., if the choices were like the ones we had for our kids. I loved our kids' private school experiences for the most part and I feel it was worth it. Some don't feel that way.
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  • eastcoascrazyeastcoascrazy 2603 replies22 threads Senior Member
    Do you have:
    1. Your retirement well funded?
    2. College funds set aside for all of your children? Or the ability to pay for college through current wages?

    If not, then no, you probably can't afford full pay private school of $25K+ for grades 4-12 without changing something else in your lives.

    Do the math. You already know the answer to your own question.
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  • AnnieBeatsAnnieBeats 1940 replies18 threads Senior Member
    @menloparkmom A lot of upscale families already live here and we are starting to get frustrated with the system. The public high school is a typical suburban high school with tons of clubs and classes but my daughter was fortunate enough to go to a smaller school a little farther away.
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  • qialahqialah 1891 replies8 threads Senior Member
    I'm a little unclear whether the "hell-hole" school is the elementary school, or the high school. If the third grader is going to a school you consider substandard, I'd move her to the private. Nothing says you have to commit through 12th grade. Things may change--administrators leave, charters open etc. etc.

    My youngest did public elementary and is now in private HS, but plenty of kids did the reverse--private elementary or middle and public HS.
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  • LonghaulLonghaul 2616 replies137 threads Senior Member
    @AnnieBeats We struggle every year to pay for private school. For the last decade, we have also received aid from private K-12 school. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO INQUIRE ABOUT FINANCIAL AID. I wish I did it sooner. Our family also spends much time volunteering at the school in various ways.

    In my state, PA, those of us living in the "poor performing" districts can also receive an Opportunity Scholarship which in essence provides school choice.

    For us, with our oldest, private school was worth the cost. He had some special needs that our public district off the record, told us we would spend the same amount of money suing them for an appropriate education as we would for paying private school. I truly believe he would have dropped out of school if he attended our public school.

    Every spring we reevaluate if we continue with private, sell our house, cyber school, etc. Yes, EACH AND EVERY Spring for 14 years we have done this. No school is one size fits all for all kids.

    IMHO - I would much rather spend the money for elementary school than high school. Even the worst performing high schools have various levels of academics and HS students have more out of school options for ECs. I was more concerned about my kids having a challenging elementary experience which built a foundation for love of learning. Many others disagree with me.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30394 replies59 threads Senior Member
    I'm with Longhaul, though I believe the high schools were more important to some of my kids than the others. I lived in one district that had wonderfully run elementary schools that funneled into 2 not so good middle schools, to a highschool that if your kid were not in the honors track, it was a huge problem. My kids never made those cuts yet got accepted to some of the best private schools in the country. They would not have gotten advanced courses in high school. My one son was in classes with kids who clearly were not going to be college bound and who had a lot of issues. When I asked about SAT2s and the course material, the teacher had no idea what I was talking about. Their "STEP" or "HA" programs were the ones that got bragging rights to college accepances, AP classes, covering SAT2 material, etc, and the kids had to qualify to get accepted. They actually had gatekeeping tactics that kept kids out. I know because my kids were "outs". Sent them to private schools and they were taking 5-9 AP courses and getting 4s and 5s on them. What a difference.
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