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Middle schooler transfer to private school for HS pros and cons

eiholieiholi 296 replies16 threads Member
What pros and cons do you see to this boy transferring to a private high school after middle school?

We live in a two grades ahead of average school district (NYT data) with a HS of about 2000. We are close to better private HS of 400 students or so that would cost us 30K a year to attend. We are not a full-pay family for tippy top colleges.

DS could be a top 5-10% HS student in our school, with no special talents or visible weaknesses, and not a bookworm. I won’t call him a typical Asian boy. I see in him potentials at any colleges and at many careers, and as a parent I’d love to help him lead a fulfilling life.

Pros and cons to transferring to a private HS struggling with 30K annual tuition?
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Replies to: Middle schooler transfer to private school for HS pros and cons

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7739 replies82 threads Senior Member
    When you say a 'better private', what do you think would be better about it for your son? If your son is doing well academically and socially, and is happy in his environment, I can't see why you would move him. If you are thinking in terms of college admissions, being a star in his current school could be better than being middle of the pack at the private school, esp as you are clearly involved enough to help supplement the efforts of a possibly overstretched GC.

    What are you hoping that the $120K will buy you?

    Would having that $120K possibly be helpful come college tuition time?
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  • snarlatronsnarlatron 1595 replies45 threads Senior Member
    ^^^ Park was accepted by Johns Hopkins and Caregie Mellon, not chump change. In any case some parents who value HS education for its own sake, not just as a launching pad to somewhere, see a value in private schools.
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  • Gator88NEGator88NE 6536 replies209 threads Senior Member
    In our school district, it's much more common for kids to go to private up through middle school, and then transition to a public magnet school (with a rigorous IB/AICE program). We don't often see it go the other way (public up to 8th grade and then switch to private), unless the student can't get into one of the magnets and the local high school is horrible.

    Not all private/public schools are the same, so it's impossible for us to do a "comparison", but if the public offers a rigorous program, plenty of EC type opportunities, and a social enviroment where your child could fit in and find friends, then I'm sure a strong case can be made for it.
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  • eiholieiholi 296 replies16 threads Member
    edited May 2016
    “What are you hoping that the $120K will buy you?” That’s the question and hence this thread. In most cases in life you get what you pay for.

    “In any case some parents who value HS education for its own sake,” I know some parents see pros and some see cons to such a transfer based on their own experiences or evaluations. Love to see they share their thoughts.

    “I thought college admissions had something to do with academics.” I’m not as naive as Ms. Park back then, and getting into any particular college isn’t a goal. Would love to see the kid get into any college he carefully picks however.
    edited May 2016
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  • thumper1thumper1 77978 replies3490 threads Senior Member
    We live in a place with tons of private high schools in close proximity...and some quite selective. We looked int these schools WITH our son. At the end of the search, he decided he wanted to stay at our good public high school. So..that's where he stayed.

    What does your son think?

    I'm not hearing a compelling reason in your post for switching schools.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82702 replies738 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2016
    eiholi wrote:
    “What are you hoping that the $120K will buy you?” That’s the question and hence this thread.

    Without naming the schools and describing the characteristics of the student, it is impossible for anyone else to say anything in particular about whether one school may be better for the student. (And, even if the $120,000 option is better, it may not be $120,000 better.)
    eiholi wrote:
    In most cases in life you get what you pay for.

    Actually, you can easily get much less than what you pay for, if you are not careful.
    edited May 2016
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  • maya54maya54 2620 replies100 threads Senior Member
    In our area the private is for kids who can't make it in the top notch public, who need more handholding etc...
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  • VMTVMT 1196 replies16 threads Senior Member
    It sounds like you are looking for a reason to spend $120k on private school despite being satisfied with your public school. There are sometimes good reasons to switch schools and make that investment: mediocre public school, need for smaller classes and more individual attention, availability of advanced classes. It is not necessary to attend public school to achieve success in life. Unless you have a compelling reason to spend a huge chunk of change, save the money.
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  • compmomcompmom 11538 replies81 threads Senior Member
    Has your son spent a day at the public, shadowing, and a day at the private? That may be the best way to gather information on this decision.

    The obvious difference is size.

    Which school has the biggest choice of courses, and the biggest choice of extracurriculars?

    During high school years, my family made sure that academics were adequate but avoided hours and hours of homework that can cause burnout. Instead, they worked hard outside of school at things like performing arts or technology, and developed those interests. I suspect these interests helped them in admissions, but that is not why they did them. We felt balance was important in these growing up years.

    I hope your son lands in a place where the soil is rich, so to speak, but where competition and workload are not too stressful. The high school years are a great time to get to know oneself and explore interests and some free time is important for that.

    The money is most likely not worth it unless your son has some need that the smaller private addresses.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 10414 replies574 threads Super Moderator
    SOMETIMES you get what you pay for. Not always. Do I buy last year's car at a discount, or do I buy the new model at full price? If I buy the latter, I am not getting anything better for my money than last year's model. I am just getting temporary bragging rights to this year's car. I don't see any compelling reason for your son going to a private school other than bragging rights, and no guarantee of anything when it comes to colleges. I do guarantee that the $120k you spend won't be any kind of money well spent if your child only gets into match schools that offer the same kind of merit aid to a public high school kid as they do to a private high school kid.

    Your son is Asian, and like other ORM students applying to top colleges, I don't think applying from a private high school will give him any advantage in the college admissions game. You state that "getting into any particular college isn't a goal" so why even consider spending that kind of money when you might well need it for whatever college he ends up at?
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  • saillakeeriesaillakeerie 2474 replies0 threads Senior Member
    How about the social aspects of it? Where will his friends go? Will he know kids in the private school? Socially, does he make friends easily? Where do the kids at private school attend middle school? Is it likely groups of friends will have been formed with less interest in outsiders joining? Or are the kids in the private school drawn from a number of middle schools who will be looking for new friend groups?

    What about ECs? Will there be any issues participating in them at the private school that wouldn't exist at the public (such as availability of carpools, school transportation, etc)?
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  • bjdkinbjdkin 155 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Pros and cons to transferring to a private HS struggling with 30K annual tuition?

    The word "struggling" jumps out at me--but you already know that the 30k a year (and that will probably rise) is a drawback.

    My question is whether or not you have other children? Will the 30k a year turn into 60k at some point?
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  • OldFashioned1OldFashioned1 110 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2016
    @GMTplus7 Groton grad Henry Park was skunked by the Ivies he applied to...but went on to attend Johns Hopkins (#10) and is now a neurosurgeon in NJ.
    edited May 2016
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  • OldFashioned1OldFashioned1 110 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Public parents too often focus on the college admissions outcomes, or demonize privates because "they're full of rich druggies," or don't understand the conditioning and polishing that's occurring at the privates. My children became much more confident and assertive, which I'm sure public peers often take for [rich kid] arrogance.

    Going back to college admissions outcomes. All matriculants are not created equal. There's a wide difference between going to say, Univ. of Illinois—​Urbana-​Champaign, and being prepared to pursue engineering or pre-med ... and being a sociology or psych major with a 3.2 GPA.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3770 replies51 threads Senior Member
    There are a few things you need to consider:

    1) Most of the top colleges and universities in the US are need blind. So your ability to pay isn't really that important.

    2) I agree with other posters that going to a private school probably won't substantially impact your child's college placement. This is the big fish/little pond or little fish/big pond analogy. Going to a private school will make it much harder for your child to stand out.

    Private schools do a much better job with college counseling and are good for kids who need a smaller classroom environment. Don't send your kid to private thinking that getting into college is easier. Unhooked kids who go to the private schools have a difficult time getting into HYPMS unless they are at the top of their class.
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