Recently, the head of Trinity school was quoted in a NY Times article as saying he knows that there is a problem in predominantly rich, white populations that flock to his school. Even as his school charges more than $40,000 per year in tuition alone, he realizes that this exclusive environment will continue to increase the number of elite wealthy students in his school.
However, every parent wants their child to receive the best possible education from the brightest teachers. But is that kind of education really preparing students like me for the real world?
As a student who attends one of these over priced private schools, I can honestly say that a private school can only prepare you so much for the future. Because the teacher to student ratio is small, private school teachers and advisors usually keep a very tight grip on their students. Many parents view this as a benefit of private schooling; however, after conversing with many of the college friends who have graduated from my high school, I have come to the conclusion that many private school students have difficulties acclimating to an independent college campus.
In my school, if a student is underperforming she will get multiple emails to her parents. For example, when I missed gym once my parents got a phone call from my dean before the school day ended. The student will also be restricted from taking part in extracurricular activities. It is because the student:teacher ratio is so low that most private schools are able to hover above their students like so; however, most college student’s grades are based on of one major assessment and their finals, and if they are taking popular classes, college students barely even come in contact with their professors. In college, a place widely considered to be the step before students join the “real world”, students must exercise their own time management and initiative to achieve their goals, and many coddled private school students struggle with their newfound independence.
Another recurring theme that I have noticed from my, now nearing thirteen years, of attendance at a private school is its lack of diversity. Now do not get me wrong, the administration will have many verbose talks on economic, religious, racial and ethnic diversity, but I have never once seen my, or any other, private school actually act on their “will to diversify” their student body. My school, after claiming to be very diverse, has a very small minority population. Most of the students who attend my school are white and wealthy. Even in our staff, my school lacks teachers of color. In fact, there are no hispanic/latin teachers, and only one Asian and one black teacher.
Often times, during class discussions on race, I find myself being the only person in the room who is not white. It makes me realize that others in class sometime view me as their window into the world of Asians and minorities in general. It is an odd realization.
You can only imagine how suffocating it must feel to talk about some of the issues a minority label forces you to experience, when none of your peers experience those hardships with you. This does not mean that the white students who attend my school are snobby or ignorant. There are many white teachers and students who attend private schools who are “woke” and willing to learn about my culture; however, it is different from actually being immersed in an environment and talking about your heritage with people who have the same ethnic background.
Going to a private school has exposed me to class differences starting from an early age. Because private schools are run on private donations, its administration tends toward favoritism. I can recount many instances where two children committed the same offence, but were deemed drastically different punishments due to the power of private donations. In all private schools, money matters. The administration cannot harshly reprimand a child whose father just donated a gym or a science building, these are two examples that have actually occurred at my school. Students with affluent families that donate large sums of money are protected by the administration, whereas children who are on financial aid or students whose parents who do not have the means to donate are left vulnerable.
That being said, everything is what you and your child make of it. If you both can overlook some of the detriments that private school brings, there are a whole bunch of advantages that attending a private school brings as well, such as more clubs/ club funding, better opportunities, and a chance to take more specific and challenging courses. Though I acknowledge all the shortcomings of a private school education, I am very grateful that I have been lucky enough to experience it. This year my English course is Korean Literature: A Nation Divided, and it is only because I attend a private school that I am able to have access to such a specific course on my own heritage.
Private schools definitely have their flaws, but at the end of the day all you need to do is look at these defects in a positive manor. Though I know the staff/student body isn’t diverse, I am determined to teach my peers about my culture and represent my heritage, which is why I am the founder of lacuna (a club that tells the personal stories of my school’s student body) and am an avid member of Asian affinity. I do also see the prejudice of the administration to children who have money, but this just motivates me to achieve my goals through a good work ethic and gain the respect of my teachers through my work and not my parents’ affluence. Anything can be great or terrible depending on the way you view it, and the matter of attending private school is no different from this universal law.