Private school misconceptions: Why are people negative about private schools?

Private schools are commonly mistaken as snobby, elitist, or homogeneous – but here's why that couldn't be further from the truth.

Negativity towards private schools
Photograph by Christinne Muschi

Are you a private school student, grad, or parent who has received a negative reaction because of your school choice? It can be surprising, but it does happen.

Negative Stereotypes About Private Schools

It's unclear as to exactly why private schools sometime elicit a negative response from strangers, acquaintances, or friends, or carry a negative reputation. Most likely it comes from preconceived ideas about what a private school really is based on common private school myths. In many cases, such a person who holds these notions has never attended a private school themselves, or has not had a close family member or friend who attends or has attended a private school.

The biggest negative stereotype that comes from a private school education or uniform is that those who attend private schools are rich, snobby, and don't need to work hard to get good grades. It may sound silly in plain words, but these are common misconceptions.

The Truth About Private Schools

Of course, private schools are for students of all economic backgrounds. Financial assistance in the form of private school scholarships, bursaries, and payment plans are standard at many private schools around the world. Millions of dollars in financial aid go out to Canadian families with children in private school every year, and 85 percent of students in private or independent schools in Ontario come from low to middle class families. Specialized schools, like schools for students with special needs, exist to help students of all kinds, no matter the economic situation.

Private schools are also more diverse today, so the negative notion that students only associate with students like themselves is completely false. In order to prepare students for the diverse working world, they actively seek out students from diverse backgrounds, languages and income levels. A private school student cannot judge a classmate for being different because the diversity of the school community and what they learn through global education and other subjects teaches them that, really, everyone is the same.

Finally, it is wrong to believe that private school students don't work hard for their grades. In fact, many private schools demand more dedication to academics as well as extracurricular activities, volunteer work and sports. Private school students are some of the most hardworking and focused teens and pre-teens, and that is why private school students have such high success rates after graduation.

Visiting Private Schools for Firsthand Experience

Just like the negative view of public schools paint them as underfunded and unchallenging, private schools suffer from mistaken negative preconceived stereotypes. Interested parents should visit one and speak with the students, parents, and faculty themselves before coming to any conclusions.

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