5 Reasons to Attend Private High School

Private school student giving presentation in class
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Not everyone considers attending private school. The truth is, the private school vs. public school debate is a popular one. You might not think private school is worth a second look, especially if the public schools in your area are pretty good, the teachers are qualified, and the high school seems to get lots of graduates into good colleges and universities. Your public school might even offer plenty of extracurricular activities and sports. Is private school really worth the extra money?

It's Cool to Be Smart

In a private school, it's cool to be smart. A top-notch education is why you go to private school. In many public schools the kids who want to learn and who are smart are branded as nerds and become the objects of social ridicule. At private school, children who excel academically will often find that the school they are attending will do its best to meet their needs, with advanced courses, online school options, and more. 

Focus on Personal Development

While the major focus at most private high schools is getting your child ready for college, the student's personal maturation and development go hand in hand with that academic preparation. That way, graduates emerge from high school with both a degree (sometimes, two—if there is an IB program at the school you choose) and a greater understanding of their purpose in life and who they are as individuals. They are better prepared not just for college, but for their careers and their lives as citizens in our world.

Superb Facilities

Libraries, which are now called media centers, are a focal point of the very best private high schools such as Andover, Exeter, St. Paul's and Hotchkiss. Money has never been an object at those and similar older schools when it comes to books and research materials of every conceivable kind. But media or learning centers are also the centerpieces of just about every private high school, large or small.

Private schools also have first-rate athletic facilities. Many schools offer horseback riding, hockey, racquet sports, basketball, football, crew, swimming, lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, archery as well as dozens of other sports. They also have the facilities to house and support all these activities. Besides professional staff to manage these athletic programs, private schools expect their teaching staff to coach a team.

Extracurricular activities are a major part of private high school programs as well. Choirs, orchestras, bands and drama clubs can be found in most schools. Participation, while optional, is expected. Again, the teachers guide or coach extracurricular activities as part of their job requirements.

In tough economic times, the first programs to be cut in public schools are the extras such as sports, arts programs, and extracurricular activities.

Highly Qualified Teachers

Private high school teachers usually have a first degree in their subject. A high percentage (70-80%) will also have a masters degree and/or a terminal degree. When a private school dean of faculty and head of school hire teachers, they look for competence in and passion for the subject a candidate will teach. Then they review how the teacher actually teaches. Finally, they check out the three or more references from the candidate's previous teaching jobs to ensure that they are hiring the best candidate.

Private school teachers rarely have to worry about discipline. Students know that if they cause problems they will be dealt with swiftly and without recourse. A teacher who doesn't have to be a traffic cop can teach.

Small Classes

One of the top reasons why many parents begin to consider a private high school is that the classes are small. The teacher to student ratios are typically 1:8, and class sizes are 10-15 students. Why are small class sizes and low student to teacher ratios important? Because they mean that your child will not get lost in the shuffle. Your child will get the personal attention he or she needs and craves. Most public schools have classes numbering 25 students or more, and teachers are not always available for extra assistance outside of normal school day hours. At private schools, especially boarding schools, the expectation is that teachers are more readily accessible to students, often coming in early and staying late to accommodate extra help sessions with groups or individual students. 

Among other considerations to think about as you investigate a private school education for your child, one point to consider is that most private high schools are fairly small, usually 300-400 students. That's much smaller than the typical public high school which will have 1,000 students or more. It's very difficult to hide or just be a number in a private high school.

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Kennedy, Robert. "5 Reasons to Attend Private High School." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/reasons-to-attend-private-high-school-2774632. Kennedy, Robert. (2021, February 16). 5 Reasons to Attend Private High School. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/reasons-to-attend-private-high-school-2774632 Kennedy, Robert. "5 Reasons to Attend Private High School." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/reasons-to-attend-private-high-school-2774632 (accessed May 29, 2023).