Does Private=Privilege?

Does attending a private school increase your admissions into college?


Alyssa Greco

Colleges take into account many factors, including performance in the classroom.

Parents send their children to private schools with high hopes for their future. There tends to be three main reasons as to why parents are sending their children to private schools rather than public: safety, higher education, and occasionally religion (Why Do Parents Send Their Child to Private School?).  Part of the motivation behind sending a child to a private school is that it will increase their chances of college admissions (especially at more selective schools), but is this a false narrative? Do college admission directors really choose a student who attends a private school over one who went public?

The American public school system has faced large amounts of criticism over the years. Parents evaluate the overall quality of the education and environment of the school while deciding where to send their children. The Public Schooling system has been declining since World War II, and has since been overflowed with half-hearted efforts to reform it. A stigma has been created in Saint Louis regarding whether the student attends a prestigious private school or not. If you are from Saint Louis, I’m sure you’ve heard the infamous saying: “where’d you go to highschool?” Due to this stigma, the most controversial argument arises; are these students receiving admissions or their academic efforts or purely privilege?

Albert Tecerco writes a guest essay for the The New Yorker, regarding this topic: “These schools are so effective at influencing the admission process that they further advantage our society’s privileged few and leave everyone else free to believe that only the most accomplished, most brilliant students get into prestigious universities” (There’s Still One Big Trick for Getting Into an Elite College).

Doug Abhrams for the US News reports that as of October 2021, only 28% of students nationwide receive some form of need-based financial aid. This leaves America to assume that the other 72% percent come from a family of money, privilege, or connections for their children to be attending some of the most elite schools in the nation.

It is not the question of whether private school attendees have more privilege, it is proven through statistics and multiple reports that these children have the upper hand. These Students families are sacrificing a lot to send their children to these schools, but are they getting their money’s worth? Private Schools are notoriously more selective, ergo the class sizes are going to be smaller. Students are receiving a more personalized education from the teachers. The smaller class sizes can be relative to the school, but it is explicitly stated to the parents that they are paying for the benefit of their kids’ education. Public school staff members are not classified as Federal employees but state employees, meaning they are directly funded by tax dollars. The funds go to the school and then are adminstarted to the teachers. Public School Teachers are proven to be paid more than Private ones, but public school teachers are being paid to deal with tougher conditions. (Does Your High School Impact Your College Admission Chances? – Ivy Scholars).

To really get some insight, I interviewed my parents, who have sent all three of their children to private schools since we were seven years old. I asked my dad, who went to public school his entire life, why he wants to pay for his kids’ school, rather than just sending them to a public school for free? Don Greco states: “All families have different ways of spending their money, me and your mother decided to spend it on your guy’s education. We did the math and figured out if you and your siblings went to a public school, we could buy a new car every year. We think that putting money towards your education is the best, so you will be successful later in life.” In short terms my parents tell me that they send me to private school so I can get into a good college, and be successful in life.

Long story short is, yes, attending an elite private school increases your admissions to a prestigious college. These statistics prove that this statement is true, but it does not necessarily mean that Private School is better than Public, just that there are different benefits and factors that go into consideration while looking into college admissions. It is not a matter of the curriculum but how the teachers are helping the student body navigate the real world and getting a taste for what college curriculum will look like.