/ Redefining Private School: Breaking Private School Stigma

Redefining Private School: Breaking the Private School Stigma

Nina Bernardi

March 16, 2023

    Private schools often carry a specific reputation to the outside world. These misconceptions also apply to private school students, causing people to see them differently. If your school wants to strengthen its reputation and provide the best education, you should consider learning how your school can overcome the private school stigma. Your public image can attract potential students and families and help current and former students feel more proud and comfortable being part of your community.

    Private School Misconceptions

    Parents considering education options for their children often have preconceived notions about private education. Certain images or stereotypes might come to mind and paint an inaccurate picture of this school type, causing them to overlook private school opportunities. Clarifying the common misconceptions can help families and students see the private school difference and what makes a well-respected private school.

    1. Private Schools Are Only for the Wealthy and Connected

    When many individuals picture private schools, they might conjure images of expensive cars, weekends at the country club, and families with vacation homes. Because private schools have tuition and other required funds, like uniforms, some may believe that only wealthy families can afford to attend private schools. While paying for schooling is a privilege for many families, it is not as inaccessible as many assume.

    However, many private schools want to cultivate a student population that reflects their values. To do so, many offer extensive scholarship and financial aid resources to students and families, allowing those who qualify to receive partial and full coverage of common costs. Additionally, schools often run extensive and frequent fundraising campaigns to offset costs for their community or allocate funds to scholarship programs.

    The application process might also raise concerns for potential students and families. Many think they must know someone connected to the school to secure a spot, from an existing student to alums or donors. Your school can combat this misconception by highlighting how you care more about whether their values and performance match your standards and community culture. Meeting with someone involved in the school might help students and families determine if your private school is the right fit for them before applying.

    2. Private Schools Are Less Diverse

    Diverse learning environments are essential to many families and students. After all, diverse schools reflect the real world and help celebrate each student’s uniqueness.

    Because private schools use admissions to select students and tailor their student population, many families believe they lack diversity. However, schools prioritize many factors when admitting students into their programs, finding the best students who meet their specific criteria. Your school can highlight your diversity in marketing and events, helping families to find diverse private school settings where their children can thrive.


    3. Private Schools Only Care About Academics

    Many schools brag that they only take the best and brightest in admissions. Further, they might highlight how their students perform well academically and discuss their academic achievements before and after graduation. The private school learning setting creates ideal learning environments where many students can excel. Because of this, private schools have a reputation for being a rigorous learning environment that cares more about grades and test scores than student happiness.

    While some private schools might value academics above all, most want to offer their students a well-rounded education that helps them discover their passions and strengths. Private funding means these schools can allocate more to arts and music programs so that students can master different mediums and instruments. They often have comprehensive clubs and organizations, from socializing groups to sports or robotics.

    Fundraising and smaller student populations create more opportunities for students to explore passions outside their core classes. They might get to go on more field trips with donations earned. Students with specific interests can petition to start new clubs, receive funding for equipment and attend important out-of-school events, opening opportunities students can’t get in public schools.

    Fewer students also mean there is a higher chance of making sports teams or honor societies. Access to clubs and activities outside of academics contributes to student success, making it vital to many private schools. Through their co- and extracurricular activities, students can gain essential skills to navigate high school, university, and the workforce. Students can become more successful graduates with diverse offerings.

    4. Private Schools Offer No Free Time


    Along the same vein as academic misconceptions, many parents and students believe that private schools micromanage students and have something planned for every second of the school day. They might fear their children will be overworked or burnt out in a rigorous private school setting. This burnout could lead to distrust and dislike of education, impacting their lives for years to come.

    However, nothing could be further from the truth. Many private schools pride themselves in offering more freedom than public schools. For some, this might mean more classes or learning environments to choose from. In contrast, others provide free periods students can use to catch up on homework or prepare for extracurricular activities. Because private schools can create unique schedules, they allow students to add study periods or free blocks where they can work on classwork, get ahead on homework, receive help from teachers, and eat or talk with their friends.


    Private schools with more free periods are great for students of all ages, helping them decompress and relax from stressful classes or process their emotions. Some schools take a more unstructured approach, encouraging students to explore the classrooms or campus at their will. Unstructured play and exploration can help students discover their interests or develop a deeper understanding of the world around them. The freedom to do what they want ensures students receive what they need during the school day.

    5. Private Schools Are Boarding Schools

    While some private schools offer dorms, which classifies them as boarding schools, many options are local and only keep students for the day. Parents might already like the idea of private education but are not comfortable sending their kids away full-time to live independently in the care of teachers and chaperones.

    Local private schools are excellent options for many families. Parents can continue to spend time with their children while getting more involved with their education. They have more access to teachers and administration, allowing them to discuss their child’s progress and any issues. Some schools even offer buses to bring kids in local neighborhoods to school, helping streamline morning and afternoon processes for parents and schools.

    The Benefits of Private Schools

    As a competitive field, knowing your school’s specifications and benefits can help you attract potential students and families during the admission season. Publishing and emphasizing your advantages and unique qualities can help your audience see why they should attend a private school.

    1. Individualizes Student Learning

    Private schools can personalize learning and education on several levels. Smaller class sizes allow teachers to pay more attention to each student, providing them with the help and care they need to do well and retain the essential skills and information from each class. Teachers can tailor lessons and teaching styles to match their student’s needs. Private education means they have a looser curriculum schedule free from state testing and requirements, so they can pace classes and lessons to suit their students.

    On a more widespread level, private schools can offer more specialized programs than public schools. While students can receive a generalized, well-rounded liberal arts education from their private school, many have dedicated programs for a single subject or field, allowing students to receive essential knowledge and skills.

    Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs are popular, letting students explore these subjects by implementing classes like robotics, computer science, or statistics. Arts programs can challenge students to grow their craft around other serious musicians and artists, creating more skilled crafts and greater passions.

    2. Creates a Strong Community

    Unlike public schools that assign students to schools based on zoning and districts, students and families will choose their private schools. Many factors go into applying to a private school, including the school’s values, culture, student population, teacher accreditations, programs, and learning environment. When all students want to be at that school, students are happier to be there and are more loyal and proud, creating a community that supports their school.

    Schools also try to pick students that match their values and priorities. Students are more likely to get along when they care about the same things. They can unite for similar causes and feel more comfortable sharing ideas and opinions.

    Smaller learning environments and school communities also create opportunities for students, parents, teachers, and administrators to get to know each other more. Students can develop deeper relationships with others in their school community for stronger friendships and collaborations. When everyone knows each other, people can better support, uplift and motivate the community and individuals.

    3. Offers a Safe Learning Environment

    More time to dedicate to students benefits schools beyond academic reasons. When teachers can devote more time to their students, they can better address behavioral challenges. They can work individually with students or in groups to solve problems without taking too much precious time away from the rest of the class and learning.

    Smaller school communities also mean administration can better regulate students and teachers and ensure they uphold the school’s values. For example, schools can address and eliminate widespread problems like bullying or isolation to create a learning environment where all students feel safe and welcome.

    In private schools, students can develop the essential communication and conversational skills they need to succeed after graduation. When students know each other and feel comfortable together, they can create a learning environment where people feel safer sharing ideas and opinions. Shy students might feel better about participating in class discussions and giving presentations.


    4. Improves Involvement With Clubs and Organizations

    With smaller communities and generous donors, private schools have more funds to allocate to initiatives beyond the essentials. Schools can support their teachers and students with funds still left over for other ventures. Because of this, private schools offer ample social and extra-curricular activities for their students.

    When students have more chances to get involved with their school, they feel like part of the community. Seeing how they fit into the school’s ecosystem can enable them to become more loyal to their school, causing them to advocate strongly for it. They might show spirit at sports games and competitions or recommend it to friends looking for a private school education.

    5. Increases Family Involvement

    If families want a more active role in their child’s education, your school can highlight that private education offers more opportunities for families to get involved. Because they pay tuition and make donations, parents may want to serve on the school board and other committees. They want to ensure the school’s budget supports their child’s education and best interests. Family involvement can span beyond an administrative role too—here are creative ways you can include families in your school admissions marketing initiatives.

    Plus, many private schools offer increased communication between families, teachers, and administrators to develop stronger relationships and keep families more informed. Families better understand what happens in the classroom and their child’s progress. The school and families can form stronger relationships, ensuring either group feels more comfortable approaching the other with questions or ideas to get involved.

    Develop Stronger Relationships With Families With Ravenna Solutions


    Because private schools face unique marketing challenges compared to public institutions, you need the right tools to reach your target audience and overcome the private school stigma. Ravenna offers comprehensive solutions to private K-12 institutions, helping streamline and optimize communication efforts at various stages.

    Our robust admissions solution offers a centralized application platform where you can track and nurture prospective applicants, strategically communicate with families, and make better-informed decisions with financial aid and engagement tracking tools. Plus, configuration customization allows you to change elements to fit your branding standards, while interview management features streamline processes for your administrators and students. When you want to simplify scholarships and grants, the financial aid solution integrates with other systems to understand the distribution and allocation of financial assistance.

    You can request a demo today and discover how Ravenna can help your private school combat stigma and misconceptions.

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