Provocative: On Private Education

The other day I was eating lunch, and I overheard a number of people talking about private school education. I, myself, went to private school for secondary education and even went to a private liberal arts college in New England. Judging from the amount of resources that my parents spent in order to provide for this education, I am left with one extremely important question: “Was it worth it?”

I could speak anecdotally regarding my experience or on observations that I could make on former classmates as opposed to others I have known. However, I am going to speak from a value standpoint. When asked, “Why do you want to send your children to private school?” many of my clients state that they want to help insure that their children are more successful in life. When further pressed on why education is so important, most state that it is so that their children will have a better career and a better income. Many are also quick to say that we live in a tough economy. The question that I have is this, given the cost of private secondary and higher education and the opportunity costs of not investing that tuition money, would the child not be better off with a trust fund of that money to help navigate life?

It is acknowledged that there are a wide range of costs depending on the private school one attends, and that financial concerns are not the only value. I have even heard it pointed out by parents that private schooling is not so much about education as a means that those of a certain socio-economic class could mingle with those of like class. There may be a substantial value in that for some people. Nonetheless, I do strongly believe that the opportunity cost of private school education needs to be rigorously examined. Looking at the tuition costs of my alma maters (almae matres for all of you Latin fanatics), I know that I feel any progeny that I may have probably would be better off with a million dollars in a trust fund when they turn 25 or 30 than they would be duplicating my private school education experience.

What are your feelings on the value of private school education? Please write: