p.s. I went to Worcester Academy, while we certainly don't rank as high as any of the school listed, I would still rate it excellent. In fact if I got the money, I would rather donate to my high school first than to my undergrad. the experience I had in that school was live changing. Though my case was definitely special since I was international student all by myself and didn't really speak English to start with. There was a lot cultural shock element in it. College was more like continuation of high school to me in some degree.
I feel the same way. I got much more out of the prep schools I attended than I did university. If I came in to money, that's where I'd donate it. Forumites will joke but I would not be nearly as well-rounded today were it not for prep school; neither of my siblings are because they hung out with the losers from the local town instead. We have very different outlooks. My sister is actually in a union *YUCK*. I strayed off the golden path and didn't make the most of the opportunities I had coming out of HS - and I won't bother laying blame - but when you attend long enough a certain mentality sets in. It feels unacceptable to fail. At least in my case, I got back on track.
Iammatt/his wife are knowledgeable in this area. The comment above about not having to send your kids at 12 is an interesting one. All kids are different, but is there an optimal time in terms of resource allocation for those people that can't easily swing anywhere from 15k-50k/yr? I'm sure there's been some research about what age range provides the best "ROI" for forming the character/personality of your kid into something that will result in a successful adult.
I'm a big fan of Richard Feynman, as some no doubt know. Feynman talks over and over again about how his father taught him to think as a young child, their nature trips, how his father explained inertia to him, etc. Certainly, it's a model i'd want to follow if i ever have kids. He had the following to say in an essay he wrote. He's specifically talking about making scientists, but I think the fundamental insight that you have to get kids into learning/wanting to know how things work while they're young is important:
Quote:When we read about this in the newspaper, it says, "The scientist says that this discovery may have importance in the cure of cancer." The paper is only interested in the use of the idea, not the idea itself. Hardly anyone can understand the importance of the idea, it is so remarkable. Except that, possibly, some children catch on. And when a child catches on to an idea like that, we have a scientist. These ideas do filter down (in spite of all the conversation about TV replacing thinking), and lots of kids get the spirit -- and when they have the spirit you have a scientist. It's too late for them to get the spirit when they are in our universities, so we must attempt to explain these ideas to children.
It's something to think about. Regardless of public/private, TEACH your kids something and get involved with them.