private high schools and college admissions



There is an article of the Weekend Journal section of the Wall Street
Journal ranking private high schools by the ratio of their tuition to
their "success rate" in sending students to selective colleges,
including seven Ivy Leagues.

The table on page W10 does provide some interesting information about
private high schools, but I think the "success rates" are misleading.
The students at the elite private high schools may be more
academically inclined to begin with, their parents probably place more
value on sending their children to an Ivy than other parents do, and a
higher percentage of students from the private high schools may
benefit from legacy preferences in college admissions. I doubt that
paying $20K a year for a private high school will change a child's
college admissions chances much, when compared to the public school in
an affluent area.

I think parents should compare the curricula of schools they are
thinking of enrolling their children in (for example, how many
Advanced Placement courses are offered?), ask about teachers'
qualifications (does the physics teacher have a B.A. in physics?), and
look at the disciplinary environment. Without a control sample, (for
example, two groups of students with the same standardized test scores
in 8th grade, sent to public and private high schools) the WSJ "sucess
rates" convey little information.


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