Prep Schools – What Are the Pros and Cons?

Canadian prep schools offer high school students a unique experience. Approximately six percent of all students in Canada attend prep school. In prep school, your child will get exposure to a wide variety of programs designed to make him or her a well rounded person. Prep schools traditionally have a strong academic and athletic focus, as well as providing opportunities for cultural and leadership activities. If you are considering prep school for your teenage child, you should carefully evaluate the pros and cons of your decision.

Private School Advantages

Academics – Private schools are sought out by parents because of their rigorous academic programs. Statistically speaking, more students from prep schools attend college and earn high marks on their college entrance exams than those from private school. There are a wide range of choices including International and French Baccalaureates, Advanced Placement and British O and A levels. There are traditional British style prep schools, Christian schools, Montessori schools and Waldorf schools, as well as liberal education schools with specific educational philosophies.

Athletics – Most prep schools require participation on an athletic team in order to attend the school. Prep schools give a lot of support to their athletic teams and they often have a wider variety of sports than public schools, like diving or golf.

Language development – Most Canadian prep schools offer extensive training in English, French and other languages. Some require that students be proficient in at least two languages in order to graduate. The language training at prep school goes above and beyond what is experienced at public schools.

Low student to teacher ratio – Small class sizes mean that your teenager gets more attention from his or her teachers. Teacher and student interaction is a vital part of the learning experience. In prep school, your child’s teachers will know him or her very well and are able to keep students on track with their studies.

Parental involvement – Since parents are the “customers” of prep school, they are highly involved in the lives of their children and the school. Parents participate in school wide events and other activities. Unlike in public school, where vocal parents are sometimes seen as a nuisance, private school administrators welcome parent feedback.

Private School Disadvantages

Cost- This is by far the biggest deterrent to private prep school. Prep school can cost $10,000 to $28,000 per year. This cost can be increased if you choose a private boarding school. These schools are a major financial commitment and this should be the biggest factor in your decision.

High pressure – The academic pressures of prep school can be a lot for a teenager to handle. The increased homework load and high expectations from students can create a high pressure environment. If your student isn’t used to college preparatory classes, he or she may have trouble adapting to the more rigorous curriculum.

Keeping up with classmates – In prep school, your teenage student may be exposed to a completely different social class than the one they are used to. The spending limits and lifestyles of their extremely wealthy classmates may provide extra pressure on them to fit in. Your student may want to spend extra money on clothes and activities to keep up with the rest of the class.

Fundraising – Even though private schools are funded by parents, there’s no shortage of fundraisers to sponsor various extracurricular activities or new building projects at the school. Expect to be invited to many dinners and events where are expected to fork over donations.

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