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High school decision: Private, Parochial or Selective Public?

Valerie245Valerie245 7 replies3 threads New Member
My 8th grader has been accepted at three Chicago high schools which are vastly different (he was waitlisted at his top choice). He is an excellent test taker (99%), math lover, studious but not an intellectual. Reserved, sporty.

I would appreciate advice on which school will give him best options for college. His hooks are parents from NW & Ivy. Half white/Asian. $ is not a major issue. He is at a complete loss which to pick(didn't like any):

1) Very small private school (80 kids per class): Pros: Very good top tier college placement (15%), close relationships with teachers, not supercompetative, close to home. Cons: Very progressive (no text books or AP). ? Challenging curriculum, math seemed weak. Cliquey, rich, left wing.

2) Catholic : Pros: closest feel to a suburban high school--300 students, sports, normal bell curve. Cons: Under 3% top tier college placement, 35 min from home, cliquey,
"unnecessarily rigorous," acc. to parents. We aren't religious.

3) Selective Enrollment Chicago Public: Pros: no cost, close to home, strong math, "best" public high school.
Cons: 50% admitted kids score in 98%, very competitive to get to top tier colleges, and almost ALL accepted have been URM, first generation (I have the matric. list)-- only 2 white males out of 39 & one was athletic recruit.

Which will give my child the best shot at a top 10-20 college (presuming he will be at that level in the future)?

Thank you!
42 replies
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Replies to: High school decision: Private, Parochial or Selective Public?

  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 3700 replies89 threads Senior Member
    edited March 8
    I don't know your son, but, based on my own experiences, I would go with the school that has the most opportunities for extra curricular activities.

    Well, a good relationship between a private or elite school guidance counselor and certain admissions officers can be valuable.

    At the end of the day, though, excellent grades and test scores is just a baseline that gets your kid to the next round. It will be his accomplishments and achievements outside the classroom that show colleges who he is and what he's got, how he matches, and what he brings to the table.
    edited March 8
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 2177 replies25 threads Senior Member
    edited March 8
    1. It sounds like you the parent don’t like any of them.
    2. High school choice should be about HS.
    edited March 8
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 2817 replies15 threads Senior Member
    What does your son want out of his high school experience?

    I think @me29034 ’s response is spot on.
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  • PublisherPublisher 11860 replies161 threads Senior Member
    edited March 8
    In my opinion, the clear choice should be the Selective Enrollment Chicago Public school as it offers outstanding academics, diversity, and is close to home.

    College placement will come into focus after a couple of years & a few standardized tests.

    Elite college placement encompasses a lot more than just the top 20 schools--especially when public honors colleges are considered.

    FWIW Top colleges includes at least 40 LACs & over 60 National Universities in the US.
    edited March 8
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  • Coun2316Coun2316 138 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Did he not get his first choice SE HS, or did he choose this because it's the "best" and not the best fit?
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  • PublisherPublisher 11860 replies161 threads Senior Member
    If truly unhappy with the current options, would your family consider boarding school as an option ?
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  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger 3149 replies177 threads Senior Member
    At the level of the Ivies, institutional needs play a large role: filling the class with recruited athletes, legacies, those on the dean’s interest list, and children of faculty and staff (ALDCs), URMs, and SES disadvantaged. If money was no object, I would consider boarding schools.
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  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3758 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Transportation and time spent travelling was a big issue in our choice especially if sports are involved. I would choose #3. Regarding "50% admitted kids score in 98%" - I didn't understand that.
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  • Beyou2022Beyou2022 76 replies28 threads Junior Member
    @CheddarcheeseMN I think what he meant is that 50% of admitted kids score in the 98th percentile
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  • Beyou2022Beyou2022 76 replies28 threads Junior Member
    My son is a mathy kid and when we were looking at high school options, we noticed that at several private ones within driving distance of us, he would have “ran out of math”. He currently attends a large public school that has the most advanced math track in the area; he loves it there and is thriving among many other mathy kids like him.
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  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 710 replies2 threads Member
    Agree with picking selective public for math and social fit. Private school experience works if student is "all in" fired up to go. Better to pass on private schools and save $.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84544 replies748 threads Senior Member
    Especially if the $ will be needed to pay for college.

    There are probably some sad stories of parents spending a lot of money for the kid's private high school, so that there is not much left for the kid's college.
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  • voyagermomvoyagermom 261 replies14 threads Junior Member
    I could see being at a Catholic school and being non-religious a challenge. The small private could be tough if he feels he doesn't fit in. A selective public school seems to me to be the best choice for a positive high school experience.
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  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 663 replies6 threads Member
    edited March 8
    Without knowing the exact schools in question, I would guess that the private school will offer the easiest path to T20 or equivalent schools (not that it will be an easy path, of course).

    All of my friends who attended public magnet schools when they were in high school are now sending their kids to private high schools, myself included. Competition can be fierce at a magnet school where 50% of the kids are scoring >98% on standardized entrance exams.
    edited March 8
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  • kbm770kbm770 171 replies2 threads Junior Member
    The SEHS decisions in Chicago don't come out until later this month, and the cutoff changes every year, but I assume you're making an educated guess about where your S will be accepted. We have been through this process twice. It's stressful, but I always told the kids to make their next best decision. Where do they want to be next year? Where will they find friends and extracurriculars that fit their interests? All the schools you mention will have a variety of rigorous courses, including Honors, AP and/or IB options. In this city (and others, I'm sure), it seems similar to the college process. Neither of our kids cared for the highest ranked school(s), so they went with the best academic/extracurricular/social fit, and it has worked out well for both of them.

    With regard to which is best for the college admissions process, the biggest difference will likely be that none of the SEHS have excellent -- or, frankly, even good -- college counseling. If that's important, though, you can hire a college counselor for a lot less than you would pay for 4 years of private HS tuition.
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