Differences Between Public and Private Schools in California

One of the most crucial decisions a parent must make is where to send their kids to school. This discussion often includes the decision of whether to send a child to a private school or a public school. It is obvious that each form of school has benefits and drawbacks; how then can you choose which is best for you?

The truth is that more than any other consideration, a student’s and family’s decision to send their child to a private school as opposed to a public school rests on them personally. In order to determine which option for schooling is ideal for your child, it is crucial that you carefully consider his or her needs and aspirations as you make this decision.

Finding a school where your child will succeed intellectually and socially is ultimately the finest thing you can do for him or her in the short- and long term. Consider how the main distinctions between public and private schools affect your family by doing the following:

School Size

The size of the student body is one of the most significant distinctions between public and private schools, especially high schools. Public schools are typically substantially bigger than private schools, which has an impact on a variety of aspects of students’ experiences.

In terms of academics, a larger student body entails larger classes and higher student-to-faculty ratios, which some students find enjoyable yet demanding. More elective classes may be available if there are more students, but only if there are enough teachers to teach them. Leveled classes, which are beneficial to some students but not all, are another common result of public schools’ diverse student populations.

Some pupils flourish socially in a big, diverse environment, discovering new things and meeting new people. Others experience overwhelming and lost feelings in these situations and are unable to find the support they require or create new acquaintances. It’s important to know what kind of learner your child is when you weigh the pros and downsides of private versus public education.


The quality of education is undoubtedly already at the top of your list of worries when it comes to your child’s education. You should look at both the large picture and the specifics when comparing academics between public and private schools.

Many private schools promote specific educational philosophies, whether it’s a special teaching method or a more general concept of education, for the big picture. As you do your research, you could come across a program that feels like the ideal match for the interests and learning objectives of your child. Alternatively, you might discover that the academic standards at your neighborhood public school are just as good.

delve into the course manuals for more information! Are there alternatives to Advanced Placement courses offered at the schools? Do any provide opportunities to participate in research or classes at a nearby university? What about captivating electives? You may make a more informed choice once you have a solid idea of what your child’s daily course schedule will include.

Additional Academic Activities

It’s crucial to consider how pupils will be able to learn and interact outside of the classroom while choosing a new school. Look through the club directories of the schools you are considering to see what kinds of extracurricular activities are available.

Consider your child’s hobbies while you peruse the directories. Are there competitive scientific and math teams for students that love science? What about a club for robotics? What types of student publications are available for those who favor the humanities? Can everyone join these groups, or are there prerequisite courses they must complete? What about organizations that promote volunteerism?

Public schools typically offer a greater variety of clubs than private schools since it is generally simpler for students to start clubs there. As a result, extracurricular leadership positions are frequently easier to obtain for students attending public schools. In contrast, private school clubs frequently have more structure and supervision, which may fit your child’s personality better.


The public option is also the most convenient choice for most families. While some could be looking closer to home for private solutions, others might be looking farther away. For a variety of reasons, choosing the ideal private school’s location is important.

Of course, choosing between boarding and day school is the key decision for private schools. If you’re still debating between public and private schools, it’s worthwhile to take into account whether your child would enjoy attending boarding school at all. We’ve written about picking the best private school elsewhere. If not, are there any suitable day schools nearby?

Consider the commute carefully if your child decides they would prefer to attend school during the day. Less time for academics and extracurricular activities results from more time spent driving. With reduced travel time, students can more readily meet up with their classmates and friends after school and on weekends if you keep your child close by and send them to public school.

Student Assistance

The disparity in administrative assistance between private and public schools is another important distinction. Public schools typically offer less support for students; private schools typically have a lot more staff members and programs available to help students, families, and teachers.

This is not to argue that kids at effective public schools are left to fend for themselves; teachers and guidance counselors may unquestionably offer academic and psychological support to students who are having difficulties with a particular component of their schooling. They typically don’t provide the same level of individualized attention as private schools do, though.

Some children, especially those in high school, do well in public schools because they learn to speak up for themselves and understand how to locate and use resources. Some people aren’t yet ready for that amount of independence, and they’ll perform better in a classroom with more encouragement.

College Admissions

Which will be better for getting into a good college, private or public school, is one of the most frequent queries we receive. The pupil determines the answer, in this case. A student must be successful both inside and outside the classroom in order to get accepted into top schools and universities.

Colleges don’t favor private high schools over public ones, or the other way around; they want to see strong students who are collaborators, leaders, and inquisitive thinkers. Public school is the best option if your child will prosper in a setting with a diverse population, plenty of extracurricular activities, and carefully leveled academics. Select a private school if they require more ongoing help.

Consider your school options’ academic programs and extracurricular offerings when you consider applying to college. Where will your student be allowed to pursue his or her interests in the academic field? Where are Advanced Placement classes available for him or her? Where may he or she find positions of leadership? Colleges are more interested in a student’s accomplishments than their location.


The issue of cost comes last, obviously. Of course, there may be fees for extracurricular activities like music or sports, which could be covered by tuition at a private school. Public education isn’t fully free. However, the overall cost difference is probably going to be significant, and certain costs, like those for summer programs, would be incurred in any scenario.

Every family makes financial decisions differently since we all place different values on various things or at least weigh them differently. All parents must determine for themselves if private school is worthwhile based on all available facts about their child, their aspirations, their values, and their financial situation.

Final Reflections

In the end, deciding between a private or public high school comes down to deciding whether you prefer a setting that caters to a specific type of learner and is guided by a specific philosophy or one where students have plenty of opportunities to interact with new people and learn new things, but must develop initiative and self-confidence in order to do so.

If you look, you can find ardent supporters of each strategy as well as many examples of schools that have used it well. The final decision will be based on your child, your family, and how you prioritize what we’ve discussed here. Making the best decision will be aided by having a clear vision for your child’s education, one that includes both today and the future (college and beyond).

Read More:

Rights Of Parents in Public Schools in California

Roadmap for School Choice in California

Best School Districts in California

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