Helping You Choose the Best Learning Environment for your Child
When it comes to choosing a school, parents today have a dizzying array of options.
In addition to their neighborhood public schools, there are public charter and magnet schools, private schools, and parochial schools...not to mention homeschooling.
With so many options, why would a parent choose to invest thousands of dollars per year in an independent school education? And what even makes a school “independent?” Aren’t all private schools considered independent schools?
Being armed with accurate information can help parents make the best decision for their family and realize the value of investing in their children’s future. Here are a few questions parents commonly have as they work to choose the right school for their child.
An independent school is one that is independently governed and does not depend on a municipal or state government for funding. An independent school meets its operating expenses by charging tuition, which is often supplemented by fundraising and/or an endowment. Each independent school is guided by its own unique mission and governed by its own board of trustees. An independent school must be accredited by a state or regional accrediting authority.
Not all private schools are independent schools. For example, parochial schools are often governed at the diocesan level rather than at the school level. A parochial school has its own principal, but its curriculum and other policies are likely set by the diocese rather than by the school’s faculty and administration.
An independent school can independently make decisions based on what is best for its students and what is true to its mission. The mission of an independent school sets the school’s course and allows it to serve its own special purpose in its community. The fact that each independent school has a unique mission makes it much more likely for parents to find a school that is just the right fit for their child.
Although independent schools, like public schools, use standardized testing to measure their students’ progress, decision-making at independent schools is not driven by standardized tests to the degree that it is at public schools. Many public schools across the country have reduced or eliminated recess or classes in science, social studies, and the arts in order to strengthen their students’ outcomes on state-mandated tests.
Because of their excellent teachers, their smaller class sizes, their high academic standards, and their positive classroom climates, independent schools are places where children can thrive without spending inordinate amounts of time on test preparation. Instead, independent schools are able to devote attention, energy, and effort to creating experiences through which students can develop the soft skills necessary for success in our increasingly interconnected and rapidly evolving society.
The results speak for themselves: a 2014 survey compared responses from independent school students and public school students to the High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE).
Among the survey’s findings, more independent school students report being challenged to their full potential (68 versus 38 percent), enjoying assignments that demand a great deal of thinking and mental effort (71 versus 58 percent), and feeling safe at their schools (95 versus 82 percent) compared to public school students.
When asked how much their school contributed to a range of essential skills, a much larger share of independent school students than public school students responded positively with regard to skills like writing effectively (64 versus 31 percent), thinking critically (61 versus 29 percent), learning independently (52 versus 28 percent), and developing creative ideas and solutions (50 versus 22 percent).
Statistics can only explain a part of the value of an investment in an independent school education. Independent school teachers and administrators recognize and honor the importance of customer service to their tuition-paying families.
Added value in independent schools is especially found in the relationships that are fostered: relationships between teachers and students, between teachers and parents, and between families with shared values.
The class size and school size at most independent schools lend themselves to the development of close and powerful relationships. At our school, most teachers and staff have not only gotten to know our students and their parents, but also many of their grandparents, their younger siblings, and even their dogs (like Chumley, Charlie, and Sister!) In contrast, my daughter Mary Clare spent her kindergarten year in a local public school. At the end of the year, some of her teachers still hadn’t mastered her name, calling her “Mary” instead of “Mary Clare.”
Just like teachers, administrators at independent schools form connections with their students. Students at independent schools feel known and loved, and the encounters with administrators that occur at carpool, at lunch, and in the hallways help to strengthen the relationships that develop at our schools.
Those who teach at and who run independent schools know that our parents work very hard to make the investment in their children’s educations. We are committed to helping them to realize an outstanding return on that investment.
More importantly, we are committed to our students and to providing them with the best possible education – not only in reading, math, and science, but also in collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, communication, and citizenship.
We would love to speak further with you about the opportunities available for your child at Mason Prep. Request more information or schedule a tour online today. If you have any questions about our school, please call us at 843-805-6015. We look forward to learning about your family and sharing more about our school during this exciting time.
Come See an Independent School in Action!
Tour our campus, meet our teachers and see what makes Mason Prep such a special place.
Mason Preparatory School is committed to the education of the whole child in preparation for secondary education through the cultivation of respect, integrity, and personal responsibility within a nurturing environment that results in a productive citizen of a global community.