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Is private school worth it?

AnnieBeatsAnnieBeats 1940 replies18 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,958 Senior Member
My oldest kid is a senior who is going to take a gap year to do travel. My youngest is far from that stage. Only in 3rd grade. She does excellent in school, but I really dislike the public school she goes to. The facilities are dirty, some of the supplies are old and worn, and there are fights among the kids. I want to transfer her out of this hell hole to a better school. But the school of my choosing is way out of our zone. Should I consider a private school education? Is it really worth it to spend $25,000 a year on her education when that money could be saved for her to college? Hubby and I bring in about $300,000 per year and that may seem high, but we have a large home to take care (because he wanted to impress his parents) and several vehicles. So is private school worth it?

Will the quality of education really improve her chances of getting into a good college and being successful in life?

Are there any inherent differences between public schools and private schools?

Thanks parents for helping me out :)
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Replies to: Is private school worth it?

  • katliamomkatliamom 12722 replies167 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 12,889 Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    Of course there are inherent differences between public schools and private schools. Class size, facilities, tone, expectations and many other things can vary dramatically between the two. But you seem to be comparing a particularly poor public school to an elite private: two extremes. Have you explored other public schools in your area? Do you have 'school of choice' and magnet/charter schools? Many offer interesting alternatives. In many areas, there are also cheaper privates (Catholic schools often cost less.)

    No one can tell you definitively if it's "worth it" to spend $25K on a primary/secondary education -- that's an absolutely personal choice based on many factors. It sounds like you could afford it, but the choice would require some significant changes in how you live/spend your money -- so I suppose the question could also be, is your child's education (and your peace of mind) worth making those changes. Again: it's a personal choice.

    I do think that risking your ability to send your child to college because you spent a fortune on K-12 seems like a poor decision.
    edited May 2014
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  • AnnieBeatsAnnieBeats 1940 replies18 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,958 Senior Member
    @katliamom Here's the thing: the school isn't poor. I know how much my neighbors and I pay in taxes so they have the money. It's mainly the administrators, so should I hold out and hope they change? I have complained to local officials about this.
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  • katliamomkatliamom 12722 replies167 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 12,889 Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    The school may not be poor, but it does sound like it's poorly run. Personally, I wouldn't hold out any hope for change (it's usually long in coming in the public sector), unless you do something besides complaining - like getting involved, along with other parents.
    edited May 2014
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  • AnnieBeatsAnnieBeats 1940 replies18 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,958 Senior Member
    Thank you! @katliamom
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  • DrGoogleDrGoogle 11023 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    Oops, delete
    edited May 2014
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  • moonchildmoonchild 3266 replies30 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,296 Senior Member
    Both of my kids went to private high schools, and for us, it was worth it. I would not have spent the money on elementary school, however, unless the situation was dangerous. It's so easy to supplement their education during the early years, and once they can read, there really is very little they can't get outside the classroom, as sad as that sounds.
    I could see starting in middle school, as those are years when growing pains are very real, and a pleasant environment with some good friends can really help. Also, the curriculum is beginning to be more challenging- at least it should- and study habits are learned during this time.

    Why did we feel it was worth the cost for high school? The academics were much stronger in our private school, especially the writing instruction, which I feel is so very important no matter what your kids wind up doing professionally.
    Socially, my kids also benefited from being with a cohort where academics were taken seriously. My Dd didn't have to hide whole parts of herself in order to fit in with the crowd. My son would have fit in anywhere, but he really appreciated that the students seemed to really respect one another, and their teachers. He would have been fine at the public, but he thrived at the private. The instructors were wonderful-and most had advanced degrees. Both of my kids are still very close to their high school buddies, even though they have both graduated college.

    Not all privates are fabulous, and not all publics are sub-par, by any means. But for us, yes, the $20K a year for the four years for each (wow, that is a lot of money..) was definitely worth it.
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  • intparentintparent 36271 replies644 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 36,915 Senior Member
    Remember that $25K/year will go up over time, you could very well be paying $30K/year by the time she graduates.. In our city there are several private schools, and there is some variance in price. Our kids went to a private school, but it was not the most expensive in town. And we didn't live in a super expensive home or have "several" vehicles (2 adults, 2 vehicles, kids drove ours when we weren't driving them, much to their dismay). It doesn't sound like money decisions are made on a particularly rational basis in your home...

    Ideally you will sit down with hubby and lay out a budget that include home expenses, vehicle expenses (and replacement costs), living expenses, retirement planning, and college savings planning. And figure out how the tuition fits into that budget together. Otherwise in a few years he will be sniping about how you wanted your kid to go to a pricey private school, and you will be complaining about the expensive house and vehicles. And there will be no solid plan to pay for college and retirement.

    $300K ought to be plenty to do all of those things IF you are thoughtful about it and on the same page with your spouse.
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  • bomerrbomerr 1952 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,956 Senior Member
    I agree with old fort.

    I would also add if you send them to a good private that is known for students wanting to transfer to top 20 Uni's your child will be at a disadvantage compared to a more poorly run HS.
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  • moonchildmoonchild 3266 replies30 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,296 Senior Member
    I would also add if you send them to a good private that is known for students wanting to transfer to top 20 Uni's your child will be at a disadvantage compared to a more poorly run HS.

    I disagree with this. Very good private schools send a large percentage of their students to top colleges.
    Students who are better prepared tend to do better on the required tests and tend to write better essays. Students from private schools have the advantage that their teachers know them well and can write more personal, less generic, letters of recommendation. Students from better schools, public or private, have an advantage in the college admissions game.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76098 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,761 Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    AnnieBeats wrote:
    Are there any inherent differences between public schools and private schools?

    One kind is public, and the other is private.

    But that is irrelevant -- what matters is the quality and cost of the (public and private) schools available to you. Looks like the public school(s) available to you are unsatisfactory in your view. You need to determine if the private schools in available to you are better, and worth the added costs.
    AnnieBeats wrote:
    Hubby and I bring in about $300,000 per year and that may seem high, but we have a large home to take care (because he wanted to impress his parents) and several vehicles. So is private school worth it?

    Spending to impress others is rarely cost effective. You could sell some of the vehicles, sell the house and buy a more suitable one, and have plenty of money left to pay for the private school. Or, if the new house is in the right place, you will have access to better public schools.

    Think of it this way -- if, on $300,000 of income, spending $25,000 on private school for a kid is a financial stretch, that should be a warning to re-evaluate your spending habits. What if the kid wants to attend a $35,000 high school and $65,000 college later?
    edited May 2014
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  • shawnspencershawnspencer 3098 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,110 Senior Member
    ^ I agree with the above. And if the house is located in a district with a poor education system, perhaps moving and going somewhere with a reputable education system should be of consideration. That way there is saved costs from living in a less expensive home, and it solves the issue of the public schooling as well.
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7001 replies7 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,008 Senior Member
    In my neck of the woods our public schools are better than many privates. My neighbor confirmed this because her daughter goes to private school and her son went to our public HS. She said that there is no comparison; our public HS is extremely rigorous, and that there is a lot of grade inflation at her daughter's school. I am not sure why she keeps her there, although the school does have a good reputation as far as recruited athletes go so maybe that's her reason.

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  • AnnieBeatsAnnieBeats 1940 replies18 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,958 Senior Member
    @ucbalumus Well, it isn't really a stretch to have her there for one to four years. The bigger stretch would be keeping her there for elementary, middle, and high school. And when the students reach the upper school, the tuition goes up by about $12,000.

    Also, I fully agree that we need to switch some things up regarding the house, but he is really stubborn. I've been running the idea by him for years and he won't budge. I guess I shouldn't have given in!

    @juillet Do you feel like you would've gotten into a better school if you weren't in a public school? Or were there some opportunities you missed out on?

    @oldfort Well, the goal is more so a better education (anything is better than what she has now) and I guess further down the line, it would be for a good college,
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