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Middle schooler transfer to private school for HS pros and cons

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Replies to: Middle schooler transfer to private school for HS pros and cons

  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40168 replies320 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    Eiholi doesn't have the money. Therefore, it is difficult to argue that this private school is worth $120k HE DOESN'T HAVE when he has an affordable good option. Isn't this the exact same thing we tell the high schoolers who want to be $120k in debt for a premium college when they have good affordable options?
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  • emilybeeemilybee 13128 replies35 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 13,163 Senior Member
    If Eilholu doesn't have the money perhaps he/she should look into whether the school offers scholarships. Most do.
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  • NCSwimmomNCSwimmom 83 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    OP, don't rule out private school or even boarding school because of money if you truly feel this is the right place for your child. If you have a wonderful public option - go for it! If you truly feel that your child would be better at a private school, for reasons that @gardenstategal described so well, then you should seek out schools that offer substantial financial aide. My older son was offered enough financial aide at Duke University that it brought our EFC even with in-state tuition at UNC-Chapel Hill. My younger son is at a wonderful boarding school, one that sounds a lot like the school @gardenstategal described. Is the financial sacrifice worth it? For our family and my son, absolutely. Is private day or boarding school (or college) the right choice for everyone? No. It depends on what is best for your child and your family situation. Do I think that the school my son attends will get him into an Ivy or other elite private school? It could based on their track record, but that it not why we sent him there or what we expect to happen. Do I think that he will be better prepared academically, socially, athletically, artistically and perhaps even morally for whatever college he attends? Absolutely.

    Our son is happier and more challenged academically, athletically and artistically than he has ever been. His school is more socially and culturally diverse that any local option we had available. We made the right choice for our son with the resources we had available. The best advice I can offer is to research your options, visit all the schools you are interested in and don't give up based on the sticker price of the private options. Good luck!
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  • eiholieiholi 296 replies16 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 312 Member
    edited September 2016
    Borrowing money to donate to a private school is probably one of the dumbest financial moves possible.
    That means it won't be done. By the way, I was brainwashed decades ago when I first came to the States. I met a church goer who didn't make much but faithfully donated to church weekly. Nice person. If I'd saved my donations over the years to various causes I could cover a big chunk of tuitions. That's fine.

    Eiholi doesn't have the money.
    True. And I've managed with no debt so far in a long life with a good and happy family.

    As a few posters have suggested I carefully evaluate the kid I have and he seems fine one way or another. The benefits of a private school is undeniable but it may not be worth the money that I have to come up with. I'm leaning staying put.
    edited September 2016
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  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40168 replies320 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    "And I've managed with no debt so far in a long life with a good and happy family."

    Then all is well!
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  • eiholieiholi 296 replies16 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 312 Member
    The best kids at both schools were very, very similar. And similar kids had similar outcomes in terms of college admissions.
    I believe so in general but probably less so in my region.
    Choose a high school based on what, within the bounds of affordability, will make your child a better person, more engaged, more excited about learning, more intellectually curious, happy, and comfortable in the world. Those are qualities that will stay with him through college and through adulthood. They will make him successful at whichever college he attends, and they will make him successful and fulfilled in life after college. That's the real goal, right?
    Absolutely. Well put.
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  • mathyonemathyone 4191 replies34 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,225 Senior Member
    edited September 2016
    How are you assessing the quality of the programs at these schools?

    Do you have access to college admissions data in a comparable format? A list of colleges students are admitted to is hard to compare to a list students actually attend. The admissions data can be skewed by a few super high achievers with many admits. The attend data can be skewed by family finances. Are the students at the public school getting admitted to top schools but attending at a lower rate because the parents are balking at the cost? I know at least one kid from our high school with an Ivy admit whose parents sent them to a state school because of the cost difference. Also know a few who might have been admitted but went for large merit scholarships. This seems obviously more likely to happen to kids whose parents also couldn't or wouldn't pay for the private school.

    What about AP classes? Does either school place limits on AP enrollment that will significantly impact your kid's education? How do the students perform on the AP exams, are there are reasonable fraction getting 5's? This of course can be skewed if all students don't take the exams, perhaps more likely to happen in a public school because the cost of those exams does add up. "I need a check for $460" "Uh do you really need to take all of those exams?"

    One piece of data that should be easy to get is the number of National merit semifinalists and commended students. This can give you some rough idea of how many top students each program has. You might want to look at several years worth if the numbers aren't large. Our small numbers bounce up and down quite a bit.

    Have you spoken to parents, and to students, at each school? If you know students comparable to your own that is probably the most helpful.

    Has your kid visited classes at each school?
    edited September 2016
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  • typiCAmomtypiCAmom 513 replies28 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 541 Member
    I'm sorry I didn't have the time to read through the entire thread, but I'd recommend the OP asks himself the question I faced - "how well would my kid do in top-notch private high school after years of regular public elementary and middle? For me, the answer was "I don't know". Our oldest daughter went to private elementary school up through grade 3. She scored 99% in English and math in Iowa test for private schools for her grade level. Then we transferred her to local public school (considered to be excellent) and for two years DD did absolutely nothing still getting top grades. In 7th grade, her math teacher brought a team of brightest kids from their public middle schools to a local math olympiad. All the other teams were from private middle schools and the difference in level of preparation was amazing - our "public" kids were years behind. One of the kids who got the prize for his grade level was my daughter's former classmate in private elementary, so my guess is if my daughter stayed in that elementary and then went to that private middle school, she might have been on the same level. No sense guessing "what if" or second-guessing my decisions. When it came to choosing high school, though, I realized I might be doing a disservice to my daughter: going from a star student at her middle school to an underdog in a top-notch private prep would be extremely hard. Yes, she is capable of catching up, but as a 13-year old she is way too sensitive about how others view her. I realize this gap in quality education between our public and top private is not going anywhere, and ultimately she will be less academically prepared for college than if she had gone to top notch prep. But by that time she will be a lot more mature, self-confident, not afraid to seek help (or at least I hope so). Will cross that bridge when we get there, in the meantime - a month into public school - so far so good.
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  • eiholieiholi 296 replies16 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 312 Member
    mathyone wrote:
    Have you spoken to parents, and to students, at each school? If you know students comparable to your own that is probably the most helpful.
    Yes basically I observe the trend as I watch Olympic cycling. Year after year a few of the cyclists in the middle of the pack minutes behind the leaders took a different route (private schools) late in the event only to emerge in front crossing the finish line. This isn't scientific and I have no data to compare AP course offerings and scores etc. Those who left have more money and colleges might like full pay students more (and I don't blame the colleges).

    Our oldest daughter went to private elementary school up through grade 3. She scored 99% in English and math in Iowa test for private schools for her grade level.
    @typiCAmom I wish we had Iowa test in our school so I can have some data to base my assessment on. Our region favors local control and people feel good about their schools (without comparing to other states).
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  • mathyonemathyone 4191 replies34 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,225 Senior Member
    edited September 2016
    Your school must have some standardized test scores for your child. You haven't seen anything? Ask the school. My kids were tested at least once per year in middle school. Iowa is not the only test being used. My kids have taken two other ones, the MAP test and another whose name I can't recall now. They all have percentiles.

    Look up the college data sheet for the two high schools. This should give some basic info and may include AP test results, number of NMF, average SATs, college acceptances. Ours does. Just keep in mind that if all students don't take the test, it may not be an accurate picture, and if one school has much more stringent AP enrollment rules than the other, it also may not be a good comparison.

    As far as "racing ahead" goes, I think there are some students who don't work that hard in middle school but get more mature and serious about their studies in high school, particularly among the boys. When I listed the schools that some of the top students at our hs had gone to, I can add that I knew most of these students since middle school or even earlier, and they were already clearly among the most outstanding few students of their grade at that time. There was no one who I knew before high school who then went off to a top college and left me thinking, wow, I never would have expected that.


    edited September 2016
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  • LucieTheLakieLucieTheLakie 3895 replies163 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,058 Senior Member
    The public schools are much, much more diverse in every respect than the private schools,
    Not where I live (in the same region, I think), @JHS . Not in comparison to the privates we chose for our son. It sounds like you live in the city. Suburbia is much more homogeneous.

    Otherwise, I thought your post was spot on.
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  • mathmommathmom 31930 replies155 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32,085 Senior Member
    Depends on the suburbia - outside of NYC - not your region - many of the inner suburbs are quite diverse, and some are majority minority.
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  • JHSJHS 18284 replies70 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 18,354 Senior Member
    Lucie, yes, I live in the city, but I was also thinking about friends in Lower Merion. My experience was that there was a fair amount of apparent diversity at the private school -- lots of kids of color, and a fair number of kids of all races on scholarships -- but in fact the attitudes and frames of reference of the families were virtually identical, with only a few outliers. (I have posted elsewhere about the African-American scholarship boy who felt called to testify in public about the immorality of homosexuality, and the intense effort devoted to counseling him and his family into the school's mainstream.) The public school had a dizzying variety of backgrounds, languages, educational expectations, politics, cultures, and, yes, intelligence. The median SAT score (1600 scale) at the private school was around 1300, and there was probably only a handful of students with scores below 1200. The median SAT at the academic magnet public school was 1100.

    The public school aimed for 100% college attendance, but never quite got there, and military enlistment was a real option for many seniors. The private school sent a kid to one of the service academies about once a generation. That's part of what I mean by "diverse in every respect," and I think it would apply to Haverford or Baldwin vs. LM or even Harriton.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5339 replies10 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,349 Senior Member
    For us, the public school, despite its size, had far less diversity than the private - SES, racial, religious, nationality, gender-identity. But as has been mentioned, it depends on where you're coming from and the private school. As a generalization, I would expect day schools to be less diverse aND boarding schools to be more so, but there are undoubtedly exceptions to that.
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