Ranking USA Private Schools

Our take on ranking American private and boarding schools

All school rankings lists come with inherent biases, and all such lists are flawed. Professional perspectives on the subject always highlight the contentiousness of rankings and caution parents against overdetermining their value in the school choice process. Perhaps Gordon Allan says it best: "There is no such thing as the number one school. But there is such a thing as the number one school for your child."

With those cautions in mind, OurKids.net presents ranked lists of US schools, based on verifiable characteristics rather than any implicit claim that we know what's best for your child(ren).

Here are some things to bear in mind as you look at rankings below or any school ranking lists:

US schools ranked by admission rate

What are the hardest US private schools to get into? USA boarding and private schools with lower acceptance rates would seem to have higher academic standards. Parents may also find this list helpful, to know if a school they are interested in is, in fact, more challenging to get accepted into. Of course, many excellent schools have a 100% acceptance rate and turn out exceptional graduates. Bear in mind other cautions above.

US schools ranked by expense

Below, we rank US private schools by boarding tuition. Parents seeking the best private education see expense as an important benchmark, assuming schools charging the highest tuition offer the best education. This assumption has weaknesses, of course. Many top private schools and boarding schools in the US charge very reasonable tuition rates. Special needs programming is a contributing factor to the expense of some schools, driving up the cost. Some schools' long establishment can be a reason they charge higher tuition.

That said, the price tag for tuition can give some indication of the quality of education and environment. More expensive schools are more likely to have more impressive facilities, attract better instructors (pay higher salaries), and offer better extracurricular programs, etc. Again, bear in mind that the most expensive education is not necessarily the one that’s best for your child(ren).

School Location Grades Boarding rates
1 Gow School South Wales, New York(USA) 6 to 12 $80,000

US schools ranked by year founded

For our Canadian readers, below, we rank US schools by year of foundation. Canadian and international parents researching US boarding schools may value the age of the school. They might also feel that this will have some bearing on a school’s reputation with universities. Keep in mind that this is a superficial factor. Many newer schools offer progressive, innovative approaches to teaching and curriculum.

School Location Grades Founded
1 Thetford Academy Thetford, Vermont(USA) 7 to 12 1819
2 Gow School South Wales, New York(USA) 6 to 12 1926

Where do you go next?

We believe rankings are a very small part of what should be a long journey for families researching schools. We’re there every step of that research journey. Aside from links above, be sure to look at other tools and features on our site, including:

  • Reviews of schools include Our Kids' reviews as well as reviews by current students, alumni and parents.
  • Our e-books library offers rich information on a spectrum of education-related topics.
  • Our advanced search shows many classroom, curriculum and support options you might be seeking for your child(ren), along with some you may not have considered before.
  • Our school comparison lets you look at options side-by-side, to closely compare and contrast factors important to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are United States private schools good?
We interviewed both parents and students. You can read reviews about United States private schools on this page.

What is the most expensive United States private school?
Gow School has the highest tuition fees up to $80,000 per year.

Which United States private school has the lowest acceptance rates?
The United States private school with the lowest acceptance rate is Gow School. The school has an overall accepance rate of 95%.

What is the oldest United States private school?
Thetford Academy is the oldest United States private school. The school was founded in 1819.

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