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Private School Education: A student's reflection

Posted by Justin McLellan'16 on June 28, 2016 at 12:00 PM
Justin McLellan'16

large_user_3102608.jpgPrivate schools will always hit you with the same buzzwords: Small class sizes, rigorous academic curricula, engaging teachers, and accessible extracurriculars. They aren’t wrong. These core tenets of private school education are what make private schools so attractive to parents wanting the best for their children and  for students who are eager to grow. Yet, after being in a private school for twelve years I have come to realize that the most valuable aspects of private schooling are the most intangible ones.

Private school students are exposed to new ways of thinking.
A product of the relationships I have formed with my teachers is the level of respect and maturity they both treat me with and expect from me in return. My teachers do not shy away from delving into conversations about real-world issues out of fear that I cannot handle them. Rather, this type of discourse is encouraged, and with it comes the expectation that the conversation will remain civil, that all perspectives will be regarded seriously, and that the end goal is to learn from one another rather than to prove someone wrong. I’ve learned that different perspectives are not wrong, or offensive, just different, and that all are to be treated with respect. As a result of this mutual comfort I am not hesitant to share my opinions or have in-depth conversations with people much older than I, which is something that I value as I prepare to graduate high school and expose myself to so many different types of people.

Private school studewww.sanfordschool.orgnts form intimate relationships with
their peers.

Of course, the best part of school is the friends you make. While having such a small class will inevitably lead to fits of social claustrophobia, the bonds I have made with my classmates have created a nexus of my academic and social lives. Debates from my philosophy class are carried into lunch, and conversations about calculus are had while watching swim meets. Having the same friends in my classes, clubs, and sports teams creates a strong sense of fraternity between us. We have seen each other study together, work together, play together, and grow together. This network of support I have established has gotten me through high school and will continue to be there for me even as we each grow separately.

Private schools are invested in their students.
The central focus of any private school is the student. So many people at private schools want their students to succeed and are so willing to help them that it is difficult not to be successful. I know that all of my teachers are more than willing to help me in any way possible because they want me to learn the most I possibly can. I am comfortable asking them questions frequently, coming to them for extra help, or just popping into their classroom to chat. I have learned just as much from my teachers in their classrooms as I have in hallway conversations with them because they will find every opportunity they can to teach me something new. Through my private school experience I have learned that my teachers are genuinely invested in my education and derive a thrill from teaching me something new.

After twelve years of private school education I am so thankful that my parents decided to put me here since a young age. Through what I have learned in the classroom and the relationships I have formed with my peers and teachers, I have grown both as a student and a person. As I prepare for the next step in my academic journey I know that the foundation private schooling has supplied me with will carry me far.

Justin McLellan graduated earlier this month from Sanford School in Hockessin Delaware.  He will be attending Notre Dame this fall.

Topics: Education, Academics, Community