What is a Prep School?

A prep school is a type of high school that prepares students for entering college. Also known as preparatory schools or academies, most are private schools that require students apply for admission during elementary school or middle school. While some schools have a religious affiliation, others do not. These schools are open to both male and female students, though you may find some that only admit one gender. These schools may also require that students live on-site and act as a boarding school. You may want to look at the classes students take, how much the schools cost and both the benefits and potential disadvantages.

Types of Classes

Preparatory schools focus on preparing students for the higher level classes they will take in college. Most follow a core program that meets the prerequisites that colleges have in place for incoming freshmen. This usually includes four years of English classes, at least three years of math and life science classes and two years of classes in the humanities, social sciences and a foreign language. Some of these schools also offer advanced placement classes. After taking an AP class, students take an exam on that subject. Depending on how well they score, they may receive partial or full college credit for that class.

Cost of Attending

Public schools receive funding from the government and from the taxes that local residents pay. Those schools use that money to pay for programs for students, textbooks, school supplies and the salaries of employees. A private school will charge a tuition rate that all students must pay. This can range from just a few thousand dollars a year to more than $10,000 a year. Those who have problems paying their tuition may qualify for scholarships that the school offers.

Benefits of Preparatory Schools

Students attending a prep school can gain college credit and meet all the prerequisites of a college before applying. These schools are much smaller than public schools too, which allows students to form better relationships with both their peers and their instructors. They also have the chance to take classes not available through public schools. A private prep academy might offer classes in astronomy, advanced psychology, college algebra and world literature. According to a report from CNBC, attending one of these schools also gives students a competitive edge when it comes to college admissions boards sending out acceptance letters.

Potential Problems

The high cost of these schools is well outside the budgets of many homes, and these schools do not guarantee that students will get into good colleges. Preparatory academies often focus more on book learning than independent learning too. Instead of learning how to think for themselves and form their own opinions, students learn how to recite facts and other information found in their textbooks. This can make it harder for students to transition from high school to college. There is also a risk that students will not get into a good college because their peers apply to the same schools.

Both public and private schools offer great opportunities for students and can help them get ready for college. Colleges look for well-rounded students who have good grades and test scores as well as a history of doing extracurricular activities. A prep school may offer more opportunities for students and help them get into better colleges.

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