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College Admission Process for Private vs. Public High School Students

written by: Terry Caron•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/9/2011

With regards to college admissions, is there a difference between public vs. private high school and acceptance rates? Do private or public school students have better chances of gaining acceptance into college, and what aspects matter most?

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    Typically, when sending young students to high school, they usually go to the high school for their district and location. This seems to be a great choice since tax dollars pay for these schools and there are many programs that make this an easy decision. What if there was a difference between public and private high schools and the student’s chances of getting accepted into college? What changes does this make on the decision process?

    First things first, are there major differences?

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    Study the Difference

    One of the main differences between public and private schools is money. Private schools charge per student and this makes a huge difference in the amount of money they can raise. Tuition, along with financial endowments translate into better facilities, better paid educators and teachers, more educational programs, textbooks and even smaller class sizes. In some cases this is as simple as a private school offering certain classes that a public high school will not. It can also mean much smaller class sizes, in some cases private schools may have less than ten students per teacher and public schools can have up to 25 students per teacher. This changes the playing field when it comes to students getting the educational attention they need to be successful.

    Another aspect to consider is that private high schools can be expensive whereas public high school is free. Depending on the student's needs this cost may not be necessary. With this cost come some advantages such as more personalized attention to the student’s educational needs, better facilities and some of the other advantages discussed previously. These make for a strong argument towards sending students to a private high school. What do these aspects mean in regards to college acceptance? It could equate to better SAT and ACT test scores and possibly better overall grades. Some private high schools may offer college prep courses and programs that will help the students adapt and prepare for college. However, some public high schools work with local and community colleges to offer qualifying students the opportunity to attend college courses. Next we will look how this will impact the review process for college admission between public high schools vs private high schools

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    The Application Review Process and What is Important

    Not all of these extras that are gained from private schools will make or break a student’s acceptance into a college. To understand this we need to look at what the college administration is typically looking for when reviewing college applications. In reality, many public schools are rated very high and some private schools are rated poorly. Most college officials will not use the school as a rating tool in deciding whom to accept and whom not to accept. What they do look for is the grades the student received while in high school, the level and difficulty of classes taken, and other factors that help define the character and ability of the student to learn. Students who take more difficult courses will have an advantage over students who take the easier ones and try to breeze through, so to speak. Students that challenge themselves academically and take advantage of good opportunities are the ones that usually gain acceptance at colleges, regardless of whether they went to private vs. public schooling.

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    What All of This Means

    When choosing a high school for your student look at factors such as: distance from home, will your student be happy, and which schools have the courses that will provide them challenge and academic growth. Also note any extracurricular activity that your student may be interested in; this is another important consideration to look at when choosing a school. Tailor your search to the high school student in question rather than the school in question. Another vital factor to consider is the cost of the school. When it comes to college admissions, public high schools vs private high schools have their pros and cons but much of it depends on the student.

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    References

    Public VS Private - The Best High Schools :http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/public_vs_private__the_best_high_schools/

    Private VS Public High School for Our Son : http://www.collegeconfidential.com/dean/archives/private-vs-public-high-school-for-our-son.htm