10 Myths About Private Schools

What you think you know, but are wrong.

Camden Military Academy
Camden Military Academy. Photo © Camden Military Academy

10. They Are Only for Rich Kids.

Busted. While this may have been true 50 or 60 years ago at many schools, it's not the case anymore. The thing that many people are surprised by is that most of the older schools were established with the aim of educating children from working class families, not the elite. In the first half of the 20th century, the clientele in many schools indeed came from well-to-do families who could afford the tariff.

But in today's world, the pendulum has swung in the other direction now with private schools championing diversity. In fact, most private schools offer millions of dollars in financial aid to qualified families, and many schools boast a student body in which 40-50% of students receive some kind of financial aid. Some of the top boarding schools in the country even offer free tuition for families whose household income falls below a certain income bracket. Learn more about financial aid and scholarships and schools that offer free or cheap tuition

9. The Homework Is Difficult and There's Lots of It.

Some of it is. Some of it isn't. It all depends on the kind of school you go to. Some schools have academic standards which are probably higher than many colleges and universities. They have libraries and teachers to match. Others have geared towards students who need extra assistance and/or have different programs and emphases.

Some schools even offer different types of curricula, so students can choose what's right for them. For example, some schools offer AP courses and college prep courses, as well as a more rigorous IB diploma program, so students have options. It's all a matter of what you are looking for in a school.

Many private schools also pride themselves on differentiated assessments, meaning students don't always have the traditional homework loads. 

8. You Have No Free Time.

If you attend boarding school, you will absolutely have free time. You just won't be completely unsupervised during that free time. There's always somebody around to make sure that you are safe and not getting into something you shouldn't. It's true that private school can be demanding, but that's part of the value. Students learn to develop strong time management skills, and how to balance school work, sports, arts, and social time. This is a great way to prepare yourself for the freedom and challenges of college, but in a more supportive and forgiving environment. Boarding schools make sure that students have free time, but also offer a wide variety of trips and activities, so there's always something happening, but you're not required to attend.

7. You Have to Wear a Uniform.

Many religious schools still insist on a uniform. However, most private schools choose to have a dress code. All that means is that you must wear certain kinds of clothes at certain times of the day. There's still plenty of room for individual expression of style and so on when you are not in class.

Some schools even offer dress-down days or spirit days, where you have more freedom in what you wear. Dress codes can range from specific types of clothes, like slacks, skirts, button down shirts, ties, and blazers, or more general guidelines like no sneakers, jeans or hoodies.

6. They Are Difficult to Get Into.

Some schools indeed are difficult to get into. That is because they have far more applicants than they have places. They can be highly competitive schools that enroll the brightest and most talented students, and offer everything those schools are looking for in order to be admitted. But, not all private schools are impossible to get into. Many schools are built on the foundation of inclusivity and look for students from all walks of life. 

5. They are too Expensive for the Average Working Family.

Expensive is a relative term.

When compared to the cost of educating students in some public schools, some private schools look very inexpensive. Private schools receive no state or local funding. They exist on their tuition and donation income. Most schools have very generous financial aid programs in place in order to attract and retain students from families which otherwise could not afford a private school education for their children.

4. They Are Exclusive and Not Diverse.

The only schools that are exclusive any more are certain religious schools that require families and students to sign a profession of faith and adherence to that church's particular religious practices and beliefs. However, this is not the norm. In fact, most private schools, including religious schools are quite egalitarian. Private schools of all kinds pride themselves on diverse student bodies that bring together children from all walks of life and even all over the world. There's no better way to get an international education experience than to attend a boarding school in particular. 

3. They are Unregulated.

Not true. Even private schools must be accredited by a governing body in order for their students to be eligible to attend college. For more independent schools, that's the National Association of Independent Schools. Many private schools are regulated by state education departments, religious departments or other organizations. They have to comply with regulations concerning minimum hours, types of courses that must be covered, and so on, otherwise students aren't prepared for college.

They also have to comply with local zoning laws and must file tax returns with the IRS. 

2. They are Only for Students of a Certain Faith.

Many private schools began as church schools. Most of those have an open door policy regarding students of other faiths. Many still require attendance at mass or chapel as strict religious services. Others use what use to be chapel as time for assemblies and other community events.

1. They will admit anyone who can pay.

This is another myth busted. Private schools are often selective, because they value building a positive learning and living environment for their students. The idea that a family can simply pay to build a building and get whatever they want for their children is simply a myth. Yes, of course private schools love receiving large donations, but they are committed to upholding a certain standard of ethics that won't allow families to cut a check and get away with anything. 

Have you heard other myths? Wondering if something is true or not? Tweet me or message me on Facebook, and I'll answer your questions!


Article edited by Stacy Jagodowski

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Your Citation
Kennedy, Robert. "10 Myths About Private Schools." ThoughtCo, Sep. 2, 2016, thoughtco.com/myths-about-private-schools-2774362. Kennedy, Robert. (2016, September 2). 10 Myths About Private Schools. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/myths-about-private-schools-2774362 Kennedy, Robert. "10 Myths About Private Schools." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/myths-about-private-schools-2774362 (accessed November 18, 2017).