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Old 10-01-2012, 11:30 AM
 
196 posts, read 684,705 times
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Thanks all... This is sobering advice.. but it's good to know early my odds

OK... I'm going to risk stirring the hornets' nest...
Say if my chances of getting into the top 4 are almost nil, how do you compare second tier private schools (say charging 15-18k per annum) to top tier public schools? Let's compare middle and high schools. I am told that Atlanta has some of the best and most competitve public schools around.
Please be candid. If I had said something stupid, do let me know

Last edited by LionT; 10-01-2012 at 11:54 AM..
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:07 PM
 
3,966 posts, read 10,802,153 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LionT View Post
Thanks all... This is sobering advice.. but it's good to know early my odds

OK... I'm going to risk stirring the hornets' nest...
Say if my chances of getting into the top 4 are almost nil, how do you compare second tier private schools (say charging 15-18k per annum) to top tier public schools? Let's compare middle and high schools. I am told that Atlanta has some of the best and most competitve public schools around.
Please be candid. If I had said something stupid, do let me know
Answer this. Why private? What is it you are looking for? From your prior posts, I think you have lived in the US at least some while your kids where in school. Am I correct?
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:25 PM
 
196 posts, read 684,705 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lastminutemom View Post
Answer this. Why private? What is it you are looking for? From your prior posts, I think you have lived in the US at least some while your kids where in school. Am I correct?
Yes, you are right. We lived in Texas and Alabama before, but kids have always been in private schools. So I have no experience in public schools. But I have heard good things about the public schools (eg in East Cobb area) in Atlanta. Yes, I am willing and do consider that a plan B. I am definitely not going for private schools for the "exclusivity" factor, more for the smaller class sizes, more individual room for growth.
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:44 PM
 
Location: Brookhaven
349 posts, read 398,307 times
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Woodward Academy has an extensive private bus network and kids come in from all over the metro area. You can check the routes on their website. The compliant I have heard from friends whose kids go there and live on the northside is that it is difficult to get there for events and you are at the mercy of ATL traffic.
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Old 10-01-2012, 02:47 PM
 
Location: Dunwoody,GA
1,863 posts, read 4,557,279 times
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The question of public schools is going to depend largely on the county and particular school you're talking about. East Cobb high schools (Walton, Lassiter, Pope clusters) are highly ranked. Marietta city schools and other parts of Cobb, not so much. Other highly ranked schools include Inman Middle/Grady High (City of Atlanta schools) and most of the North Fulton schools. Major difference would probably be class size/school size. There are also magnet schools here and there for various areas of interest. I think that going from private schools to most of the giant middle schools around here would be quite a shock to the system, but that's just my personal opinion.
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Old 10-01-2012, 05:21 PM
 
7 posts, read 15,466 times
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We looked at private schools for our children and came away unimpressed. Our impression was that it was more of a social status for the parents than an opportunity for the children. That's just our impression, I’m sure others will disagree. In our case, we had a child who was obviously gifted in math. We approached several schools after he finished first grade. At the time, our child could calculate with negative numbers, solve basic algebraic equations, could work with exponents and inequalities, and solve basic word problems (algebra 1material). The first school (elite) seemed indifferent to his talents and the second school flat out told us they would be unable to provide any individual instruction. After that experience, we decided to just continue with the public school system and enhance the learning experience as we had been doing all along. In my opinion, parental involvement on a daily basis and helping your children achieve their full potential is probably more valuable that the cost of a private education.
In retrospect, perhaps we were considering private schools for all the wrong reasons.
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:21 PM
 
2,859 posts, read 6,258,775 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LionT View Post
Thanks all... This is sobering advice.. but it's good to know early my odds

OK... I'm going to risk stirring the hornets' nest...
Say if my chances of getting into the top 4 are almost nil, how do you compare second tier private schools (say charging 15-18k per annum) to top tier public schools? Let's compare middle and high schools. I am told that Atlanta has some of the best and most competitve public schools around.
Please be candid. If I had said something stupid, do let me know
The "second tier" schools cost almost the same as the top tier schools. The only private schools in metro-Atlanta that have lower tuition are typically the Catholic schools. You will find very minimal difference in tuition between Westminster, Lovett, Pace, Woodward, Holy Innocents, Walker, Mt. Vernon, Whitefield, Weslyan.....

You have received good advice so far - cast a wide net with the applications and make decisions when there are decisions to be made (April). I think that for your 8th grader, SSATs will be important. This might be the time to invest in a prep class. Not as important for the rising 6th grader as it is an expansion year.

Be prepared for the thought of having your kids at two different schools - at least for a couple of years. If this happens, you might make a decision at some point to move the 6th grader to the 8th grader's school. Remember that two schools means two annual funds, building campaigns..... There are an increasing number of families who end up with kids at two schools so it isn't really that unusual.
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Old 10-02-2012, 03:59 AM
 
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Class sizes in most classes will be smaller in private school (though not necessarily Catholic schools) than public schools. However, a top public high school will likely offer more advanced courses than a second tier private school. Also, many of the top tiers control access to their AP courses, for example, but some public schools do as well. If you have a child who appears to be the kind of kid who would want to take multiple AP courses, a school like Walton High School in Cobb could easily be a better choice than a small private school.

College counseling services may be better in private schools, however, if you go public you can always hire a private college counselor if you feel the need to.

If you have highly motivated intelligent kids, being in the higher level courses in high school generally removes some of the negatives of being with students for whom learning isn't a priority.

Last night I was with friends, all of us who have used a mixture of public and private schools. For the most part, we all agreed that teacher quality was not guaranteed in private school. What I have found is that private schools generally seem to be able to get rid of weaker teachers more quickly. However, we also agreed that the dynamics of private schools (our way or the highway) sometimes makes it more difficult to figure out how to complain.
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:17 AM
 
550 posts, read 758,089 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lastminutemom View Post
Class sizes in most classes will be smaller in private school (though not necessarily Catholic schools) than public schools. However, a top public high school will likely offer more advanced courses than a second tier private school. Also, many of the top tiers control access to their AP courses, for example, but some public schools do as well. If you have a child who appears to be the kind of kid who would want to take multiple AP courses, a school like Walton High School in Cobb could easily be a better choice than a small private school.

College counseling services may be better in private schools, however, if you go public you can always hire a private college counselor if you feel the need to.

If you have highly motivated intelligent kids, being in the higher level courses in high school generally removes some of the negatives of being with students for whom learning isn't a priority.

Last night I was with friends, all of us who have used a mixture of public and private schools. For the most part, we all agreed that teacher quality was not guaranteed in private school. What I have found is that private schools generally seem to be able to get rid of weaker teachers more quickly. However, we also agreed that the dynamics of private schools (our way or the highway) sometimes makes it more difficult to figure out how to complain.
Strongly agreeing with the bolded. My dd is in 7th grade at Dodgen, in the advanced courses. I am very picky about my kids' education, and I think that she is getting, and will continue to get at Walton, an education comparable to private school education. To the OP, there are also many expat students from various other countries whose parents have told me that they also feel like their kids are getting an education that is academically as sound as the international schools their children had previously attended.

I went to college with a lot of friends who came out of private schools here (Lovett, Westminster, Woodward, Pace, Marist) and they all felt that Walton offered a similar education/extra-curriculars/environment. The ones who live in Buckhead have kids in elementary and say they will keep them in public through high school (Grady). The ones who are ITP with kids in private are happy with their choice (these are all the top-tier schools--the consensus among the friends I know is that 2nd tier is not worth the cost--better to move to East Cobb and spend the $ on other things.) The universal concern seemed to be that if anything, Walton was more of an academic pressure cooker, and one friend said she believed there was more "mean girl" behavior at Walton (and Dodgen/Dickerson) than Lovett. Thankfully this has not been our experience so far. Possibly because my kid opts out of drama and is not into popular culture. (knocking wood!) I have been VERY impressed with the administration and faculty at Dodgen.

Oh--I might also look into the Atlanta Girls School--I have heard really really great things about it, have a friend on faculty there, and seriously considered it. IMO it would be an exception to my theory about not paying for private unless it is Lovett/Westminster etc. And also for public check out Riverview (Riverside? Riverwood? can't remember) high school and feeders. They have an IB program that might work well for your kids, and my friends who are Atlanta natives also spoke highly of it. Closer to downtown but the houses are more expensive.

Good luck.
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:28 AM
 
550 posts, read 758,089 times
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Also to the OP--in terms of convenience, making friends, proximity to friends, I think it is also worth considering East Cobb. (I don't have personal experience to compare here, but based on what I know from others) It makes it so much easier IMO to get plugged into a community and for your kids to make friends (and actually get to see their friends outside of school) if you are in swim/tennis type community and your kids are going to school with the other kids in their neighborhood, and most of the kids in your area in afterschool actvities/church or whatever are also attending the same schools. In terms of proximity to stuff, I am within 10 minutes of tennis/year-round swimming/stables/theatre/drama classes/art classes/almost every other sport/music teachers and at the schools themselves there is after-school chess, spanish, and tons of other activities. My kid has orchestra every day as a class and there are also smaller groups (chamber orchestra etc.) that meet seperately, same for band. I don't know if it would be quite so convenient to go private, esp. if you ended up with kids at 2 different private schools, with their friends spread out all over metro Atlanta, and depending on what your housing budget is, and factoring in Atlanta traffic. I don't really have to deal with traffic at all--even at rush hour I can get to where I need to be easily. Good luck!

p.s. all of that said--*if* it were in the budget, and I didn't have a kid with special needs who needs the services public schools offer, we would totally live closer to downtown (prob. Buckhead) and do private so that we might see more of my husband. But we needed a 4 bedroom house, and that plus the $20k per kid per year (and more $ when you add in all of the other fees etc.) is steep. You could take your kids on some amazing trips and experiences and have the college fund fully funded for that price. YMMV.
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