Six Benefits of a Private/Independent School Education

Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Lowe contributed photo

Blog post by Dr. Paul Lowe

An independent, private or “prep” school is a primary or secondary school that has independent finances and governance and one that is funded by tuition fees, gifts and its investments, donations, etc.  It is independently governed by a board of trustees.

Each form of education (public vs. private) has its advantages and disadvantages, but my purpose here, as I continue visiting numerous independent school campuses throughout the Tri-state area, is to discuss the true value and benefits that I have observed in private school education.

This season, I have increased my annual tour of schools to include a wider variety of private and parochial schools.  I have had the opportunity to speak with heads of schools, directors of admissions, admissions and development office personnel, administrative and support staff, faculty members, students and alumni.  Having had this opportunity, I have observed and confirmed that all independent schools continue to provide an increasingly superior education to that of public schools.   Here’s  why:

(1)  Small class size.   Private schools assign on average about 9.8 students to each teacher, thus guaranteeing the individual attention each child needs to thrive intellectually, socially and emotionally.

(2)  Excellent educators.  Private school teachers teach as well as educate.  They passionately nurture and motive young minds.  They provide a truly bespoke education for your child. Personal development intellectually, socially and emotionally and academic achievement are par for the course.

(3) Personalized education. Private school education is not a one-size-fits-all affair.  Independent schools come in all shapes and sizes.

(4) Diversity:  Private schools are multicultural and embrace diversity.  They are committed to creating and fostering a welcoming community that is inclusive for all its members (faculty and students) regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, socio-economic status, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or any other attribute that does not define a person’s character.

(5) College counseling.  Private schools have college counselors whose job is to specifically help students in the college admissions process.  The National Association for College Admission Counseling’s 2014 State of College Admissions reported that on average, public high school guidance counselors spend only 24 percent of their time on college admissions counseling, while their private school counterparts spent 52 percent of their time on college admissions counseling.

(6) Sense of community.  In private schools, the atmosphere is cooperative and collaborative.  Private schools are like large families, with every member eager to contribute their individual characteristics to the good of every other member and the good of the whole school community.

There is truly a private school for every child. I have found that each school has a different atmosphere and chemistry.  The independent sector gives parents the opportunity to CHOOSE a school that is right for their child. However, because of the increase in numbers of domestic as well as international applicants, the private school admissions process has become extremely competitive!

When considering which independent school is best for my domestic and international clients, I consider the following school factors:  educational  philosophy/mission, location, cost, size, athletics, arts, academic rigor, faculty, personal attention to individual students, parental involvement, atmosphere, chemistry, diversity, multiculturalism, student happiness and, of course, secondary school or college placement.

Though the cost of private school is not inexpensive, (the average tuition for day schools is $30,000 and for seven-day boarding is approximately $55,000 per year) the true value and dividends for educating your child, watching them happily learn and successfully thrive, is priceless!

 Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director and lead admissions expert at Greenwich Admissions Advisors. Tel. (203) 542-7288, and founder of Private School Admissions Advisors.

Dr. Lowe is an active member of several professional organizations including: the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), the New York Association for College Admission Counseling (NYACAC), the New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling (NJACAC), the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC), and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), and the Admissions Leadership Consortium (ALC).

  • Freddy Mendez

    Not everyone finds the funds for private school. It all comes down to where you come from and economic status “alumni donations” play a significant part in education. I know plenty of successful people that were educated in public schools and have good paying jobs that are able to live here in Greenwich and raise their families. It’s all a perception.

  • On what possible metric can you say that private schools are “more diverse” with a straight face? There is so much to be debunked in this piece I might just have to write a column of my own to do it.

  • I’m sure that many people get hung up on the cost of private schools, since they all have a substantial tuition. However, one really nice thing about choosing private over public is that you can shop around according to your needs. Public schools are chosen for you, and it is hard to switch, but you can choose any private school as long as you are willing to pay and drive. If there are viable options available, the advantages discussed in this article are well worth the effort.

  • My little brother switched from a public school to a charter school last year. Our parents thought that it would be a better setting for him learn in, but now they are thinking a private school might be a better choice. The benefits you pointed out, like smaller class sizes and personalized education, will mean that he will get the attention he needs from teachers. My brother is a very smart kid, he just has trouble focusing.

  • Judy G

    It might be the right choice, Callie Marie. The public schools are great in town, and GHS offers many benefits. But the No. 1 complaint I hear about is the same as when I went 40 years ago – if a student is not self-motivated, has trouble focusing, etc., they can just drift through and nobody (teacher, guidance counselor, etc.) will say a thing.