Some parents automatically reject the notion of enrolling their children in a private school simply because they think of such schools as elitist or unaffordable -- without giving full consideration to the many benefits such an education can offer. If you're on the fence about where to send your kids, here are four compelling reasons to keep some kind of private school on your short list.
1. Education With an Agenda
Do you feel that a well-rounded education and preparation for life requires more than the routine parade of academic subjects presented in public school? If so, then you owe it to your kids to find a private school that agrees with your family's priorities. Many parents choose to enroll their children in a parochial environment such as Jesuit or Catholic school for that very reason. These schools include religious study as a central aspect of the curriculum, helping students grow spiritually even as they gain general knowledge and skills.
Perhaps you simply find the regimented, one-size-fits-all template of public school education too limiting for your child. In that case, you may want to look into your private school alternatives. For example, Montessori schools emphasize independent discovery over rote instruction, giving students more freedom to move around the classroom, work in teams, and pick their own subjects. You might also be surprised to learn that "orthodox" parochial schools can also offer a wider range of subject matter than the typical public school, simply because they have more freedom to choose their curriculum.
2. More Personalized Attention
Many parents and teachers believe that smaller classrooms encourage more individual attention, allowing students to interact more meaningfully and receive more personalized attention from teachers. If you agree with that sentiment, then private school is almost certainly the way to go. These schools are known for having lower teacher-to-student ratios -- in fact, the average ratio for a private school is just 9:1 instead of the more typical 17:1 ratio found in public classrooms. The more intimate environment will also give you kids a better chance to get to know their classmates and form stronger friendships.
3. Excellent Academic Performance
If the graduation rates in your public school district have you concerned, private school could turn out to be money well spent. Private schools tend to show higher graduation rates for its students. This may be due to any combination of:
- More selective acceptance criteria
- Higher cost, which may filter out households less passionate about academic excellence
- A more controlled internal environment that allows students to focus more on their studies
- Religious principles and training that may have an impact on student behavior and priorities
Catholic schools enjoy an average high-school graduation rate of 99.1 percent, compared the average public school rate of 73.1 percent. But they're not the only ones who can claim some high numbers for their students. Montessori students can score significantly higher than the national average on standardized tests involving science, math, and reading. So by investing in a private school, you could be giving your child a stronger start toward a prestigious four-year college and eventually the job market.
4. Financial Assistance Options
If you always assumed that you had to be rich to afford private school for your children, think again. Just as many students enter Ivy League colleges with the aid of financial support, private primary and secondary schools typically have an office devoted to helping families find necessary financial aid options. These may include bank loans, payment plans, need-based assistance, and merit-based scholarships.
The tuition rates you pay will also depend on the type of private school you choose. Catholic schools, for instance, tend to cost considerably less than other forms of private school. In many cases, an archdiocese will maintain tuition specific programs to help make Catholic school a more affordable choice throughout a region.
Don't dismiss private or Catholic schools as an option for your family until you've taken all the possible pluses into consideration. From higher graduation rates to customized studies that support specific viewpoints, private education can make all the difference between ordinary students and extraordinary achievers!