Private schools offer a lot but can be expensive

September 30, 2012 — by Jane Park and Carolyn Sun

No interrupting the teacher at any time. Uniforms and black shoes with visible socks are to be worn at all times. No yelling or running in the hallways. No eating during break time. No exceptions.

No interrupting the teacher at any time. Uniforms and black shoes with visible socks are to be worn at all times. No yelling or running in the hallways. No eating during break time. No exceptions.

These are just some of the rules that private schools such as Challenger and Harker enforce, and they are a major reason parents are willing to pay tuitions in the tens of thousands annually to send their children there.

By providing students with a strict discipline and rigorous curriculum, private schools, which often have class ratios of 10 or 15 students to one teacher, prepare current students to succeed in a public school or in college.

Sophomore Neal Bedekar, who attended Harker for fifth and sixth grade, was encouraged by private schools to work diligently.

“It instilled a good work ethic,” Bedekar said. “I’m not saying a public school wouldn’t have done that, but Harker did do that.”

By assigning large amounts of homework, private school teachers help students develop important skills and habits, such as time management and organization.

“I really learned how to manage my time well at an early age,” said sophomore Jackie An, who went to Harker from fifth to eighth grade. “There was a lot of work, so when I came to Saratoga in ninth grade, I was pretty on top of things.”

Former private school students received the opportunity to learn high school material in middle school, which made schoolwork easier for them now.

“Everything I’m doing this year, I learned in eighth grade, like chemistry and world history,” said sophomore Eunju Pak, a former Challenger student. “And the English I did in eighth grade was actually a lot harder than this year’s English.”
Although taking challenging classes can be rewarding, the work load may prevent students from spending time on other activities.

“The homework was taking a lot more time than it should have, and I wanted to focus on extracurriculars,” An said. “I decided that it was so expensive that it wasn’t worth it if I wasn’t enjoying it much.”

In addition, private schools do not grant students as much freedom and flexibility. For example, unlike Saratoga students, private schools students cannot change their schedule after receiving it. While discipline is important for younger students, independence and liberty in high school will help students in the future.

“I think that the freedom in Saratoga and the environment itself is a good preparation for college life in comparison to Harker,” said senior Oliver Chen, who attended Harker for kindergarten through second grade and fifth through eighth grade. “They have a bigger ‘bubble’ than us if you want to put it in those terms.”

Also, tuition at other private schools can cost in the range of $30,000 per year.

The expensive tuition influenced Pak’s decision to attend a public high school.

“My sister goes to this super duper expensive college and my little sister still has to go through a couple more years of private school,” Pak said.  “Public schools are so easy. You don’t have to pay for anything, and private schools are so expensive. Saratoga has a good education and it was an alternate choice, so I took it.”

Although private school students send a check for tuition every month in addition to taxes, public school students pay only the latter.

“I personally didn't think it was worth [the cost] towards the later years,” said sophomore Mounika Narayanan, who went to Challenger from preschool to eighth grade. “We weren’t able to participate in as many activities regarding the school. We had to find other extracurriculars outside of it and they enforced so many unnecessary and pathetic rules that took away our newspaper, sports, and fun with yearbook.”

Because Saratoga is ranked 31 in the state based on The U.S. News and World Report Ranking, Narayanan decided to attend Saratoga for high school.

“My parents didn’t want to send me to a private high school because we would rather take advantage of our public school, pay less, and be closer,” Narayanan said.

Private schools are costly, but former students believe attending one for a few years was worth the tuition.

“It’s a lot of money, but I was only there for two years, so I got a good experience without wasting money for 10 years,” Bedekar said.

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