Is a private school education worth it?

Oxford has two definitions for education:

1. “The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction.”

2. “An informative experience.”

For the best results, there needs to be a heavy emphasis on the latter. If you’re from Oakville, you’ve likely heard the names of a few private institutions referred to as the “Rich kid schools,” where the average annual salary in Canada buys a year of instruction. However, there are families around the world who have the means and choose to apply for their child to attend a private school.

So yes, while already an investment, getting into a private institution is also highly competitive. Here are some of the key factors that draw families towards private schools, for example, somewhere like Appleby College.

“Not a grade boosting school like other private/prep schools, can’t just ‘buy’ good grades. If you put in the effort, your grades will reflect that,” said Daniel, a school alumni. “Most teachers are very down to earth and can be treated like friends but skipping class is not a thing…”

In a world where educational opportunities vary greatly, it’s not only natural but a certainty that people will wonder, “What am I getting if I invest to send my kid to a private school?”

One parent stated, “I chose to send all 3 of my kids to Appleby for high school because of student-teacher ratios, educational resources, well-funded opportunities in sports and global leadership opportunities.”

“Appleby provides an educational experience that prepares your child to face challenges, grow academically and ultimately pursue their passions. My kids have progressed so much at Appleby. I believe they are better prepared to take on leadership roles in a globally-connected world.”

A school day at Appleby College starts at 8:45 am and ends at around 5:30 pm – longer than most people’s 9-5 workday. During this time, students engage in a multitude of activities that extend beyond a traditional classroom setting. While academic instruction is a top priority, the school recognizes that education encompasses much more, which is why they require students to participate in co-curricular activities.

Imagine if your education recognized you required different forms of stimulation and challenges to become the best version of yourself. If you could go back in time knowing the value of experience, would you not want to gain as much of it as young as you could?

A few minutes away from Appleby College is MacLachlan College, whose programs range from Kindergarten up to grade 12. “Students develop a growth mindset that sets them up for success in an ever-changing world. Collaborative learning, MAC spirit, and access to the arts and athletics are what really enriches their experience,” said one MacLachlan teacher.

Globally, we are entering an age that demands a diverse skill set and adaptability. While schools around the world wrestle with how tech-savvy kids are today, private institutions like MacLachlan recognize that embracing change and innovation is essential to preparing students for the demands of the real world.

So is it fair to say that book reports and learning about how the world used to function do not benefit students in 2023? Attention spans are getting shorter; this technological uprise has changed how we access and consume information and will only become more drastic over time. Private schools recognize this, and that’s why they endorse collaboration and connection to real-world experiences in addition to the practical application of knowledge.

A private school’s intent is to show students what they can achieve when they apply themselves and chase opportunities. These opportunities, however, become a lot more diverse at these institutions.

Note that private schools typically have the advantage of greater autonomy in designing their curriculum and implementing innovative approaches to education overall. But no, it’s not going to guarantee a cushy 6 figure job once you leave – and that’s never been the way private schools want to be perceived.

“We can help you understand who you are, what you like, and what the post-secondary program is going to be the best for you,” said Appleby’s chief enrollment officer Michael O’Connor. “If you are a highly motivated and driven student in the first place, and you want to go to Yale, no matter what high school you go to, you will likely reach that goal if you apply yourself.”

It’s an interesting phrase, isn’t it? “Applying yourself,” because what’s the difference between the student who’s lost after graduation vs the one with a 5-year plan? What’s often overlooked is the concept of personal growth and self-discovery that private schools foster. A great example of an academic environment in Oakville that strives to do this is St. Mildred’s-Lightbourn School. Tailoring exclusively to girls, it’s one of the longest-standing schools in Oakville at over 130 years.

“My favorite memory SMLS has been, without a doubt, my professional internship experience in grade 11, in which I got to work in a sports medicine clinic for an entire month and really get a feel for work life. At SMLS, we truly are a tight-knit community, and there’s not one girl in the school I would feel uncomfortable talking to. I’m in an environment of like-minded people who push me and help me achieve my personal goals,” said Paisley H. Grade 12 student at St. Mildred’s.

It has already been mentioned, but I want to emphasize again that the common thread among these institutions is their recognition that education extends beyond their instruction. The ultimate goal is not to guarantee high-paying jobs or elite-level connections upon graduation. Instead, they aim to empower students to understand their strengths, interests, and options for their lives trajectory once they leave.

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