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Public vs. Private High Schools: Which Are Better?

There are an increasing number of college admissions consultants discussing the benefits of applying to college from either a public or private high school. Further, many parents and students want to know whether going to a private high school will give them a greater advantage in the admissions cycle. So we’ll discuss the benefits of applying from either public or private schools.

Applying to College From Public High Schools:

There’s a greater chance that you might “stand out” more with higher SAT and ACT scores.

Most admissions offices have statistics of matriculated students from any given high school. These show the performance of students from any high school at their college. In fact, many high school admissions offices provide SAT and ACT medians from their respective school. So, if you score way higher or lower, it could be seen more or less favorably.

You are more likely to be the only one applying to a “Top” College.

Because some public high schools are more worried about students attending high school at all, if you’re one of the few students applying to an Ivy League School or to another “Top 50″ college (based on U.S. News and World Report), admissions officers will make note of this fact. Often times students recall of X student of 300 total from Y public high school getting into Harvard. In some cases, this is true. But work on increasing your scores and improving your essays, and then apply to college. Don’t worry about the fact that you have to apply from a public school.

Applying to College From Private High Schools:

Many private schools have greater resources.

Simply put: because many private schools charge tuition and don’t rely on state and local taxes to survive, private high schools can channel more resources into college counseling and other things like computer technology. So if you’re going to a private school use the resources wisely. And our admissions consultants help both public and private school students, regardless.

There’s a better chance you can speak with current and former students at top schools.

Because there are more students from private schools at the top colleges, your private school is more likely to put you in touch with a current student who can help facilitate a campus tour or discussion with the admissions office. In addition, these contacts will help you find out what school is a good fit for you. So find out what graduates went to your choice schools and contact them.

So now you know…

Overall, it is doubtful that an admissions office will think more or less favorably of your application whether at a public or private school; the most important thing is to create an application that shows you contributed to your high school (public or private) and will do the same in college.

Remember, the key to applying to colleges is making sure that you develop a strong theme in your admissions application that shows you stood out of the crowd, regardless of whether you went to a public or private high school. Don’t worry about whether you’re currently at a public or private school, the SAT and ACT create enough objective criteria to evaluate your applications that this fact becomes irrelevant.

Ross Blankenship,
Education Expert and Founder of Top Test Prep

(800) 501-Prep