Experience with Prep Schools??

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by HEARTLESS-531, May 23, 2011.

  1. ConcernedParent

    ConcernedParent Senior member

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    Harvard-Westlake in CA is a feeder school to Stanford just as Exeter and Andover to the major Ivy schools. These schools all have very generous scholarship, and admission is based on aptitude more than family income. In fact, kids from underrepresented groups (blacks/Hispanics/Native Indians) have just as high a chance as white and Asian kids from low-income households. Legacy plays an important role but those that got in from this batch is no more than 16-25%.

    Meh. I think only a certain type of kid with a certain type of background can go through these places and become successful enough to justify the cost.

    My best friend/ex and I grew up in the same upper middle class Asian community; I went to the public highschool and she went to Harvard Westlake. Her first couple of years she had trouble understanding the whole rich kid culture and she didn't grow up fast enough to adapt to the environment, socially and academically. It's too early to call the intangible effects of elite prep school right now, but at the very least I really think she would have gone on to a better school had she stayed.
     


  2. PeterMetro

    PeterMetro Senior member

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    You probably want to add one or two in the Loomis Chaffee range to have something as a backup.

    Burn! (Just don't dip down to a Taft or ::snicker:: Avon Old Farms.)

    I went to a fancy-pants prep school and I appreciated it. The most common trait among my friends who went to prep school versus those who didn't is an intellectual curiosity - call it learning for learning's sake. I don't find them to be any more competitive or to have a greater expectation of success; in fact, many come from serious money, and lack any kind of drive as a result.

    This discussion brought to mind an interesting article I read today about the income divide at top colleges. The problem is much worse at prep schools.
     


  3. pebblegrain

    pebblegrain Senior member

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    This thread has already moved onto which prep school is the best, but I will give a differing opinion.

    Its very hard to separate out the effect of prep school alone on the type of people who typically attend them. If they are well-off, well-connected already, are you saying they would have done worse if they hadn't attended?

    I went to public schools from k-12 and was admitted to every college I applied to (2 of the top 5 + Williams + 2 Ivys, etc), I'm not in an underrepresented category.

    Also, I'm not sure how prep schools deal with class rank (is there one?), but if your kid is borderline, it could be a soul-crushing experience. Going from top third of a public school to bottom fifth and watching half your class go Ivy league while you don't ...

    Lastly, although my public school was not prestigious in any way, there are plenty that are. If you live in a well-off area, make sure your public school is as inferior as you think it is before choosing a prep. Sure, Harvard-Westlake sends tons to Stanford, so do Gunn and Palo Alto High, and Los Altos High, and Fremont/cupertino High - all public schools
     


  4. Joenobody0

    Joenobody0 Senior member

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    Lastly, although my public school was not prestigious in any way, there are plenty that are. If you live in a well-off area, make sure your public school is as inferior as you think it is before choosing a prep. Sure, Harvard-Westlake sends tons to Stanford, so do Gunn and Palo Alto High, and Los Altos High, and Fremont/cupertino High - all public schools


    That's a good point. Berkeley High sends their top 5% to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Standford, and Cal every year.
     


  5. ConcernedParent

    ConcernedParent Senior member

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    That's a good point. Berkeley High sends their top 5% to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Standford, and Cal every year.
    Just about every really good public high school (and I'm not talking Stuyvesant kind of school here), and there are quite a few of them, sends their top 2-5% to elite schools. My graduating class was one of the weaker ones and something like the top 10-12% were Cal/UCLA level. I'd imagine the competition at elite prep schools are brutal nearly all the way through the class since its such a self selected pool; at public school I'd say there was only real competition in the top 5%.
     


  6. HEARTLESS-531

    HEARTLESS-531 Senior member

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    Fellas - thanks for everything. There have been some interesting comments and insight. Much appreciated!
    I don't mean to keep this thread going if we've milked it, but has anyone watched WAITING FOR SUPERMAN? G-d D--n. Unbelievable. It is a documentary about the American education system - the bureaucratic bungling, inequities, teacher underperformance - man, I just needed a drink after watching that doc. So I feel a little better about sending my daughter to a prep school. Dumb question - please tell me that underperforming teachers at prep schools are fired. They are obviously not public, but do they have the same convoluted system of tenure that public (high) schools have?
     


  7. tj100

    tj100 Senior member

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    Dumb question - please tell me that underperforming teachers at prep schools are fired. They are obviously not public, but do they have the same convoluted system of tenure that public (high) schools have?

    Underperforming teachers - if they get hired at all - are fired, and fired quickly. The teaching population tends to be of two varieties: straight out of college (typically an ivy or similar college), or long-term boarding school stock (have been doing this for 30 years, probably mostly at the same school). There's a constant influx of smart, young teachers (probably 5 - 10% of the faculty in any given year) and the best ones mature into long-term roles.

    In some ways, it's similar to the investment banking / law model: bring in several energetic, smart bodies every year, slowly winnow the field over the years until you're left with relatively few 'partners' at the top.

    Compensation is another key difference. Longstanding, excellent teachers tend to be very well compensated.
     


  8. medtech_expat

    medtech_expat Senior member

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    Harvard-Westlake sends tons to Stanford, so do Gunn and Palo Alto High, and Los Altos High, and Fremont/cupertino High - all public schools

    +1

    Without going into cause & effect, these schools also have massive Asian representation, especially Chinese & Indian. I have a few friends who avoid these schools for their kids due to the hyper-competitive environment - and these friends are Chinese & Indian. [​IMG]
     


  9. pebblegrain

    pebblegrain Senior member

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    +1

    Without going into cause & effect, these schools also have massive Asian representation, especially Chinese & Indian. I have a few friends who avoid these schools for their kids due to the hyper-competitive environment - and these friends are Chinese & Indian. [​IMG]


    this is wrong, Gunn and PA are not massively Asian. Not sure about Los Altos. fremont/cup yes.

    Anyway, I guess this gets to the hidden reason why people go to prep schools, to stay with the whites?
     


  10. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Suitsupply-sider

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    I went to Choate one summer and was impressed with it. I went to a top prep school in Florida which was a boarding school not too far from my Dad.

    At UVA I definitely noticed that prep schools offered a quality foundation for learning in college. My AP/honors classes gave me a leg up.
     


  11. Concordia

    Concordia Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Culture matters a lot in making this work. When my daughter applied to schools, I occasionally kidded about driving her up to Andover (where I'd gone) for an interview. Which she took in the spirit it was made. So no application there. She also opted out of Milton after a (very good) interview and tour. Just not her thing, even though she could have gone as a day student.

    Anyway, while she did apply to a few schools that took boarders-- one about 50%-- she is now at a good Boston day school and we're all delighted. Not because it's a day school, but because it's the right place for her.

    Another factoid about Andover-- when I went, there were a lot of students who joined in 10th grade, plus a decent passel coming in 11th. Then there were a fair number of PG/1-year seniors. So in a school with 1200 kids, 400 graduated each year.

    Of those 400 graduating seniors, 90 were 4-year students. But when I started 9th grade, there were 150 in my class.

    A lot of casualties.
     


  12. JGP.

    JGP. Senior member

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    I graduated from a top (one of the Phillips) boarding school recently, and will post a long response when I have some time. Short answer: it undoubtedly hurt my college prospects, but what I gained from my experience there FAR outweighs any negative effects. It is going to be very hard to explain in words just how special the experience really is. If it is possible from a financial standpoint, I would suggest trying as hard as possible to send your child(ren) to boarding schools if they can get in to the top tier.
     


  13. pebblegrain

    pebblegrain Senior member

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    hurt your college prospects? please tell

    imo, good college >>> good high school

    someone explain how this could be wrong
     


  14. Pennglock

    Pennglock Senior member

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    I think it's the whole big-fish-in-a-little-pond thing. A record like his might have stood out more at a public school in middle america.
     


  15. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    hurt your college prospects? please tell

    imo, good college >>> good high school

    someone explain how this could be wrong


    Most schools put a cap on how many students they'll take from individual high schools. Also, your GPA probably suffers at extremely competitive schools.



    For a local example, there's a (public) magnet school in Northern VA that's extremely highly ranked nationally. The top state universities (UVA and William and Mary) could accept close to every graduate based on admission criteria, but they cap it off. Some kids were getting into schools like Columbia and not into UVA because of it.
     


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