The Best Private Schools in the US

January 2, 2023
By AdmissionSight

The Best Private Schools in the US

What is the difference between private and public schools?

There is a long-standing debate about choosing the best private schools in the US over the best public schools in the US. But how are private schools different from public schools? A private school is independent and pays for itself through student tuition, private grants, and endowments, among other things. A public school is paid for by the government and is open to everyone for free.

Private schools may go above and beyond the standard curriculum because they get money from more than one source. They may also cater to a certain type of student (gifted, special needs, specific religion/language) or have a different curriculum like art, drama, technology, etc. Public schools have to follow the curriculum set by the district, and no child in the residential school zone can be turned away.

People have a lot of ideas about what private and public schools are like. People often think private schools are expensive, full of rich people, and a better way to get into good colleges. People often think public schools are dirty, have less discipline, and teach low-quality lessons. This comparison gives parents a good look at both schools so they can make an informed choice.

Why choose to go to a private school?

1. Parental Involvement

Parents often have a stronger voice in the private school system than in the public school system. Parents and administration usually have an easy way to talk to each other, like when parents and teachers talk to each other regularly, when parents are encouraged to get involved in social events and fundraising campaigns, and so on.

As a parent, you’ll feel more involved in your child’s education and more aware of any problems as they come up. You have the right to speak up for your child and play an important part in their education.

2. A safe place to learn

One reason why some students choose to go to a private school is that they usually have tight security. Families like those at the best private schools in the US provide a safe place to learn and have a culture that places a lot of importance on personal responsibility and ethics. The smaller number of teachers to students makes it easier to keep an eye on everyone and step in if something goes wrong.

a professor in front of his class

Staff and faculty participation and a focus on ethics make a big difference in a school’s atmosphere. According to a study by the Fraser Institute, 72% of private school parents strongly agreed that their school was safe, which they said made their child’s education better and helped them do better in school.

3. Strong community spirit

One of the best things about a private school is that it has a strong sense of community and school pride. To get into a private school, a student must fill out an application, and many private schools have academic standards that a student must meet. This way, you can feel proud as soon as you start the application process.

Smaller schools and more ways to get involved help students to feel like they belong and are proud of their school. This is also how parents will feel. A survey by the Fraser Institute found that 62% of private school parents think the environment at their child’s school is encouraging, supportive, and caring.

4. Teachers who pay attention to each student

Most private schools are smaller than public schools, so the average class size is smaller. This change is good for students in many ways. Most of the time, you’ll feel more comfortable giving your opinion or your best guess in front of a smaller, more intimate group.

Students and teachers can get to know each other better in a small classroom. This helps the teacher get to know each student better, so they can adjust how they teach to fit. They’ll know what your student is good at and what they need help with, so they can give more targeted help when needed.

5. More opportunities outside of the classroom

At most of the best private schools in the US, there are often more extracurricular activities, and because the school is smaller, there is less competition to join. This means more students can join a sports team, participate in the school musical, play an instrument in the orchestra, or speak up in the debate club.

This is possible at a private school with 600 students but not at a public school with thousands. Your student can find new interests, learn useful skills, and join a group or team that will become an important part of their school life through these extracurricular activities.

6. Financial aid and grants for college

Many private schools are committed to offering financial aid options to make private schools an affordable and accessible alternative to public schools. You’ll find that many private schools are happy to hear your story and help you find a way to pay for school, especially if you’re applying for need-based financial aid.

7. Higher standards in school

Statistics support the idea that private schools push their students to do better in school. The National Center for Education Statistics says that private high schools have stricter graduation requirements than public schools, which means that students have to take more classes to graduate. Because of this, students who graduate from high school do better on tests, have better written, spoken, and math skills, and have more impressive school matriculation.

What are the best private colleges in the US?

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, was founded in 1861. As one of the best private colleges in the US, they have always put a lot of focus on technology, applied science, and engineering. Today, it is a private, non-profit 4-year university focusing on doctoral and research programs. Even though the school was started in 1861, it opened in 1865 because the Civil War started in just two days. The Mercantile Building finally got its first classes.

Aerial view of MIT campus

During the Second World War and the Cold War, the school worked on things like radar, computers, and inertial guidance. Several foreign leaders, the founders of big companies like Dropbox, Campbell Soup, and Texas Instruments, the astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and I.M. Pei, the man who designed the Lourve Pyramid, are among the school’s famous alumni.

Today, MIT is on a 168-acre campus near the Charles River Basin in Cambridge, MA. Every year, about 11,900 people go to school. Mind and hand” (Mens et manus) has been the university’s motto for a long time.

Princeton University

Princeton University is one of the best private schools in the US. After it was founded in 1746 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the university was first called the College of New Jersey. After a few moves, the school found a home in Princeton in 1756. In 1896, it got its current name to honor its city.

Princeton orange

It used to be a school for training ministers. Still, John Witherspoon, president in 1768 and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, decided to change the focus to preparing students to lead the country in the future. Later, even though it was only for five months, the school became the capital of the United States and the place where the Continental Congress met. After the war, the university grew and changed over the next few hundred years.

Princeton isn’t a school for ministers anymore, but it is right next to the Princeton Theological Seminary, and the two schools often share resources. The university’s motto, “Dei Sub Numine Viget,” which means “Under God’s Power, She Thrives,” also has a religious background. The symbol also has a religious meaning. It is supposed to represent both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Presidents Woodrow Wilson and James Madison, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Aaron Burr are famous people who attended this school. Many well-known people from Princeton are still around today, like Jeff Bezos, the CEO, and founder of Amazon, and Eric Schmidt, the Chairman of Google.

Princeton University cares a lot about what its students learn and how they learn it, which is why it is one of the best schools in the country.

California Institute of Technology

Caltech, which stands for the California Institute of Technology, is another of the best private schools in the US. It is a private, non-profit school in Pasadena, California, with degrees that take four years or more.

Caltech started in 1891 as Throop College. It didn’t get its current name until 1921, eleven years after it split from the college. Amos G. Throop opened the vocational and preparatory school with 31 students and six teachers. Astronomer George Ellery Hale, chemist Arthur A. Noyes, and physicist Robert A. Millikan (nicknamed “Tinker, Thinker, and Stinker”) had such an impact on Throop that the school began to focus on scientific research and education.

California Institute of Technology front view

On its 124-acre campus, the school now has 2,400 students, both undergrads, and grads. Some famous alumni include Donald Knuth, who wrote “The Art of Computer Programming,” foreign leaders, 34 Nobel Prize winners, 6 Turing Award winners, and many more.

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago, also known as UChicago, has several schools, including the College, graduate programs, five research divisions, six professional schools, and the Graham school. UChicago was one of the first schools to join the Association of American Universities. It is now a private, not-for-profit school. What makes UChicago one of the best private schools in the US is that they focus on giving back to the community and putting job seekers in touch with local businesses.

UChicago was started on July 9, 1890, thanks to the work of the American Baptist Education Society and a gift of $600,000 from John D. Rockefeller, which would be worth $16 million today.

UChicago banner

The motto “Crescat Scientia; vita excolatur” is written on UChicago’s maroon coat of arms, showing a phoenix rising from the flames. Its meaning in English is “Let knowledge grow from more and more, and so enrich human life.” The sports teams are called “The Maroons” because that is the school’s color.

Over the years, many famous people have graduated from UChicago, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Oracle Corporation founder Larry Ellison, Prohibition agent Eliot Ness, and film critic Roger Ebert. Overall, 50 Rhodes Scholars, 13 billionaire graduates, members of Congress, and several foreign leaders have come from UChicago.

There are 18,800 students at the school, including both freshmen and graduates.

Stanford University

Stanford University is located in the middle of California’s Silicon Valley, between San Francisco and San Jose. It is a Doctoral/Research University with at least four years of study that, unlike many other schools, goes by quarters instead of semesters.

Stanford was started in 1885, and its first class of 555 students started on October 1, 1891. Leland Stanford Junior University is the real name of the school. It was named after the founders’ son, Leland Stanford Jr. Leland’s father, Leland Stanford, was a senator in the United States and the governor of California. Leland was only 15 when he died of typhoid fever.

front view of the Stanford tower

The university began with only 15 professors and was free until 1920. Women and people of all religions were allowed to attend, which was a big change from the past. The unofficial motto of Stanford is “The air of freedom blows,” a quote from a humanist from the 1600s named Ulrich von Hutten. It means “freedom is blowing.”

Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, and Sandra Day O’Connor, on the Supreme Court, went to Stanford University. Tiger Woods went to the school for free because he was good at golf. Three more people with degrees are John Elway, Sally Ride, and Chelsea Clinton. Stanford is known for having a strong focus on connections between students and faculty and for impacting education for over 125 years.

Columbia University in the City of New York

Columbia University is a private, non-profit school in the middle of New York City. It is ranked among the best private schools in the US. King George II of England started Columbia in 1754. It is the oldest school in New York and the fifth oldest in the country. It was first called King’s College. But the first few years weren’t easy. After the school opened, there was a lot of trouble, with different groups arguing about its location and religious affiliation.

The first lessons were taught to eight students in a schoolhouse next to Trinity College. The lessons focused on helping each student reach new levels of skill. King’s College was the first to obtain an MD degree in 1767.

front building of Columbia University with female statue at the very center

Even though classes stopped for eight years when the American Revolution began and the British took over New York City, the school reopened under the name “Columbia.” One of the nine colleges before the Declaration of Independence, it is still around today. It would be called “Columbia University” for the first time in 1896.

The school’s motto, which comes from Psalms 36:9, is “In Thy Light Shall We See Light.” It was the first place in North America where the uranium atom was split. It was also where the FM radio and the laser were invented.

Notable people who attended this university include John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Barack Obama. S. Robson Walton, Warren Buffett, several members of the Astor family, Art Garfunkel, and J.D. Salinger are also well-known graduates.

Harvard University

The top school in the country, Harvard University, is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just 5 miles from downtown Boston. Harvard is not only one of the best private schools in the US, but it is also the oldest college or university in the United States. When it was first started in 1636, Harvard was called “New College.” It was changed to Harvard University in 1639 when John Harvard gave the school its first gift.

A building inside the Harvard campus where legacy admission is still being practiced

Harvard has the world’s largest academic library, with more than 18.9 million books, 10 million photos, and more than 400 million manuscripts. There is a lot to see and do at the school, which is on 210 acres. You can visit the Charles River, Harvard Yard, or the Natural History Museum. Veritas, Latin for “Truth,” is Harvard’s motto. It fits with the school’s history, academics, and goals.

There are about 28,791 students at the university at any given time. Of these, 10,338 are undergraduates, and 18,453 are graduates. The most famous people who went to Harvard were Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Duke University

Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, is a private, non-profit organization with 12 schools and institutes, 254 buildings, and 8,547 acres. Richard Nixon, Ron Paul, Tim Cook of Apple, and Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are just a few well-known people who went to Yale.

Duke started as Brown’s Schoolhouse in 1838. Over the years, it had many different names, such as Union Institute, Normal College, and Trinity College, before it became Duke University, named for the Duke family. Washington Duke helped pay for the school to move to Durham and gave it its first dollars. Starting in 1896, he continued to be kind by giving three separate donations to the school, with the condition that women be given the same educational opportunities as men.

Duke University signage

James B. Duke, Washington’s son, set up The Duke Endowment in 1924. It gave money to hospitals, orphanages, the church, and four colleges, including what was then called Trinity College. Due to these gifts, Trinity’s president thought Duke University would be a good name for the school. Eruditio et Religio, which means “Knowledge and Faith,” is the school’s motto. At the moment, there are about 18,000 students. The school gives out bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctorates.

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College is one of the oldest and best private schools in the US. This school is also known as the smallest of the schools in the Ivy League. Dartmouth is found in the small town of Hanover in rural New Hampshire.

Eleazar Wheelock began the town of Dartmouth. Wheelock moved to Hanover and started a school called the Charity School. This was after his first attempt to teach the Montauks on Long Island failed because it was in a bad place. Even though the original goal was to teach the Native Americans in the area, the founder was disappointed by how little it worked. He worked instead with the local colonists.

Dartmouth College building

Before the 20th century, Dartmouth didn’t have enough money and still used old, ineffective teaching methods. William Jewett Tucker, president of the school from 1893 to 1909, was in charge of getting it back on its feet.

Twenty new buildings were added, and the number of students and faculty went up. This brought the school to the attention of the whole country, and later, future Presidents kept improving it. In the 1970s, Dartmouth began to let women in and switched to the well-known Dartmouth Plan for scheduling classes.

People like writer Dr. Seuss, poet Robert Frost, and actresses Sarah Wayne Callies and Mindy Kaling have attended college. Dartmouth College is located in a rural part of New Hampshire on 269 acres. At the moment, there are 6,760 students.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania, also called UPenn or Penn, is the ninth school in the United States. Penn is a private, not-for-profit Ivy League school. It is in Philadelphia, a cultural hub that offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

Penn, founded in 1740, is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. It was the first university to offer both undergraduate and graduate studies. Penn is also one of the original colonial schools and a founding member of the Association of American Universities. When the school was a charity, there wasn’t enough money, and people had different opinions on how to run the school.

View of Upenn building at day time

In 1749, Benjamin Franklin and some other people were working on starting a new school. Franklin wanted the school to focus on the arts and practical skills, but his fellow Trustees thought clergy should get a more traditional education.

Over the next 30 years, Penn underwent several changes before finally becoming a “university” in 1779. The University of Pennsylvania is one of the best private schools in the US because they have a rich history due to several important “firsts .”Some include the country’s first medical school, college school of business, student union building, and university hospital.

Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, and Ezra Pound are all successful businessmen who went to Penn. Over the years, nine people who went to the university went on to win the Nobel Prize. Penn’s motto is “Leges sine moribus vanae,” which means “Laws without morals are useless.” Today, Penn is in the middle of Philadelphia. The campus and the area around it are full of history. Twenty-eight thousand students enroll at Penn.

Now, as you prepare for to enter a private school, you should also prepare for how to enter one. As such, you must get all the help you can get. AdmissionSight is known to be a leader in college admissions, with over 10 years of experience getting students into the best universities in the world. Set up an initial appointment today with AdmissionSight and get the best help with college admission.




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