Private VS Public High School

Many parents ask if for college admissions purposes it's better to attend a well known private school versus a public school. The key to this question is, "for college admissions purposes." The truth is, parents should not make ANY decisions based purely on college admissions odds – that's the wrong way to address a crucial choice that involves far more variables than simply college admissions. One valid reason to send your son or daughter to private school is if you want him or her to have smaller classes, specific classes not offered at your particular public school, a different social environment, athletic opportunities not found at your local school, etc. The worst reason to send a student is in the vain hope of bettering college admissions odds. Most of the Ivies admit roughly 25% of their populations from private schools and roughly 65-70% from public (the rest from parochial or home-schooled), but that merely reflects the fact that more kids from publ ic school apply — again, the acceptance rates are usually about equal.
Even a student who is No. 1 in a top public school will not be accepted to top colleges if he or she has low scores on the SAT and SAT Subject Tests. Another thing to consider is the competition: at top private schools like Andover and Exeter, only the top students get into the very top colleges. It's actually HARDER to be in the top 5-10% of the class at a place where almost everyone is qualified versus a big public school with some "dead weight." In short, you should make this decision based on the options, comfort level, course offerings, sports and specialty offerings for your child rather than trying to outwit college admissions officers who will not be impressed just by a big name private school.
Most importantly, students will perform better – and be happier – at a school where they feel most comfortable. If a student truly loves Andover, and the family believes that the expense is warranted, then Andover is the right choice. If the local public school has great teachers, neighborhood friends, a full line up of AP courses, and a safe environment, then it may be worth more to a student than any of the famous prep schools.

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