|The Independent School Advantage
Gentry "Trey" Arnette, Assistant Head of School
This year, I have been presenting The Independent School Advantage at some of our neighboring club houses. Undoubtedly, you have seen the postcards around campus.
Like anyone else, you’re probably wondering what this is all about. Do I attack Common Core standards and their implementation in county schools? Do I villify county school teachers? Absolutely not. I simply attempt to answer the very same questions you had before enrolling your student at Mount Pisgah Christian School, and perhaps the same questions you ask every year during reenrollment. Is paying tuition at an independent school really worth it? How different can independent schools be from county schools? Would it really make a difference for my child?
Dr. Richard J. Light, Professor of Teaching and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and one of the contributing authors of the "Harvard Assessment Surveys," was curious as to why graduates from independent schools were more successful at Harvard than their county school counterparts. After interviewing 2,500 Harvard students, he identified five areas in which independent school graduates differed significantly from students who graduated from even the best county schools. Dr. Light found that when compared to their county school peers, alumni from independent schools were:
Significantly better in writing preparedness, especially with research papers
Much more likely (450%) to seek out advice from a faculty member
Much more likely to choose the appropriate class level
Much more likely to have better time management skills
More likely to have a broader world view
What is it about the independent school that innately fosters these five skill sets? The answer is simply opportunity and investment. At Mount Pisgah Christian School, our students have opportunities that could not be afforded to them at the surrounding county schools. They have opportunities to participate in academics, athletics, arts and extracurricular activities without having to specialize in one at the expense of the others. Our students can often be found excelling in the classroom, on the field and on the stage.
More importantly, what these five attributes of independent school alumni points to is the opportunity to build relationships with faculty, coaches, counselors and instructors who invest heavily in students' lives. This is why they are 450% more likely to seek out advice from a faculty member at the university level; they have been raised in an independent school where they expect their faculty to invest in them.
Additionally, these independent school alumni expect their faculty to weigh in on important issues in their lives and help them navigate the tumultuous times. They expect their faculty to stay after school to discuss their philosophical perspectives and help inform their world view. They expect their faculty to have a holistic approach to their education, not just checking for dotted I’s and crossed T’s. And sadly, this is something county schools simply don’t have the luxury to afford to the thousands of students who fill their classrooms and hallways.