The Value of an Independent School

student performing in Barnum

One hundred and eighty. That's the average number of days a child in the U.S. spends at school each year. It equates to 27 percent of the time a child is awake, which means that the environment in which those hours are passed helps shape who the child becomes. As a parent, you want that time to be spent at a school whose mission, philosophy and culture complement your family's values. An independent school provides such an environment.

What Is an Independent School?

Across the United States, roughly 2,000 independent schools serve about 700,000 students. The schools themselves come in many sizes, shapes and types. What they have in common is that each provides a unique and excellent education.

Each independent school has a distinct, self-determined mission and culture. The school is supported primarily by tuition, donations, and endowment or investment revenue. High accreditation standards ensure each school fulfills its mission, and a board of trustees holds the school accountable.

These factors give an independent school the freedom to structure its offering as it sees fit. The school can hire the best possible people who embody its mission. Plus, it can select students and families who embrace the culture.

Learn more about independent schools.

Why Independent Schools Succeed

By their very nature, independent schools provide what educational reformers call for in their attempts to improve public school systems:

  • Close-knit communities
  • Individualized attention
  • Supportive, safe learning environments
  • High-quality and committed adults
  • Hands-on learning opportunities
  • Rigorous standards
  • Innovative curricula and instruction
  • Emphasis on critical thinking
  • Experiences beyond the classroom
  • Actively engaged families

Signs of Success

Research highlights some interesting facts about independent school students and alumni. In the immediate, independent school students:

  • Watch one-third less television
  • Much more often participate in extracurricular activities, particularly athletics
  • More readily agree that students and teachers work well together, that discipline is fair, and that teaching is strong
  • Spend more time outside of school engaged in meaningful study

In the long term, independent school students:

  • Are more than twice as likely to have or be working on a post-grad degree by age 30
  • Choose a much wider range of college majors
  • Are twice as likely to volunteer for political or civic causes
  • Attend plays, concerts, and community events more often; read magazines and newspapers much more frequently; and read for pleasure more commonly

Read more about the life-long benefits of an independent school education.