Private vs Public Schools – Which is right for you?

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Private vs Public Schools – Which is right for you?

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Many families agonize over the difficult decision of where their teens should attend school. Some choose public education based on a political conviction and others opt for private institutions based on family legacy. No matter your opinion, consider all the options as you create a list of potential possibilities.

When pondering this difficult decision, first, consider practicality. How far will your child travel to attend your desired destination? A long commute can affect attendance, limit extra curricular activities, and shrink the social network of nearby friends. Does your child have a physical, emotional, or learning concern that is a better fit for a particular school? Both public and private schools can excel at meeting special needs, but some service certain concerns better than others. What are the costs? Public school is free and private school tuition can range from a few thousand dollars to upward of twenty grand per year. Make sure you can afford the entire high school experience because changing midway can have a dramatic impact on your son or daughter.

Next consider what is personally important to you and your teen. Does the school offer the desired curriculum? Most schools offer at least a few advanced placement courses and technical classes but make sure the facility will nurture and challenge your child’s special interest area whether it be science, art, or auto mechanics. How important is athletics and extra curricular participation? Some schools with the “best” programs only provide opportunities for the exceptionally excellent, but other schools have “no cut” policies offering everyone the opportunity to participate. What atmosphere will suit your teen best? Think about the benefits of a low student-teacher ratio, a religious curriculum, block scheduling, academic rigor, or student diversity.

Once you have generated criteria for a successful student-school match, visit the building. Most offer open house days for prospective pupils. Private schools, both religious and non religious, hold “high school nights” where representatives from a multitude of educational establishments give short presentations. Bring your teen and discuss the perspective placements at the end of the evening. Lastly and most importantly, have your middle schooler spend some time shadowing a student at his top three choices. This academic “test drive” will provide insights into campus life that will be invaluable when making this important decision.

Staying appropriately involved and dialoguing with you teen about their education is the best way to ensure academic and emotional success no matter what school they attend. Successful teenagers become successful adults and high school provides the foundation for life that follows. Choosing public or private education is a personal choice, and the only bad decision is one that is made impulsively.

Do you have an opinion on this topic? If so, please leave your comments.