{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Private school K-12 is a total rip off. My friends in NYC are planning to drop $30-50k/yr for the “chance” at an Ivy League school down the line. Seems dumb to me.", "post_id": "5fda5169595eda00280af723", "reply_count": 236, "vote_count": 43, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d051", "bowl_name": "Consulting", "feed_type": "crowd" }

Private school K-12 is a total rip off. My friends in NYC are planning to drop $30-50k/yr for the “chance” at an Ivy League school down the line. Seems dumb to me.

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I have an anecdotal story from long ago. I went to an Ivy + M7. I grew up in Detroit and went to DPS. We didn’t have much money so I went to public school. Eventually got to high school and there was a magnet school where kids took a test and DPS + neighboring cities had a shot to send their kids to a math, science, and tech focused school. I took the test, got in, and bam I was one of 30 accepted that year. All equally smart and talented, I watched my peers take their pick at colleges. Here’s the kicker: no one really went that far. UMich was the golden ticket. Scholarships at the rest of the state schools were normal. Me going to an Ivy was bizarre (I was definitely not the smartest nor the most hardworking). Went to the Ivy, graduated, got a job at EY (I didn’t even know there were other firms out there or what consulting was, I’d never seen this much money in my life). Got into an M7 later on which also shocked me. And here I am many moons later, a public school kid from one of the roughest cities in the world.

Now here’s the message - I am doing the best out of all my magnet school friends as measured by “success” in traditional terms. I am the outlier. Most went on to normal colleges and mundane jobs that they likely could’ve gotten from staying with DPS only high schools and avoiding the magnet school. I am not the smartest nor he most hard working, I’m just lucky. The caveat is this story relies on asymmetric information. None of us had access to good college counselors, visions of success, or guidance at home. I got that at the Ivy when I found mentors. I truly think that a strong public school system (i.e. good area with good schools, after-all that’s what taxes are for) and good guidance are more than enough for a legacy kid to get in. Just my 2 cents.


Thanks for sharing

OP, I totally feel you. I went to a very regular middle class public school and went to a top25 private university then made it to M7 and MBB. I have young kids as well and have always been planning to put them into public school. When I first read your post I thought no way in hell would I pay to put them into private, especially at that cost. I live in LCOL with great public schools nearby so my situation is def different from yours. But I’m still 100% of the mindset that you can make it from anywhere. However, after reading others responses I totally get the other side of the argument. While I made it, most of my friends didn’t graduate college and even those that did are all prob making 50-60k per year max. So I’m now in a very different economic situation as they are. The peer pressure around me was more focused on athletics and having a good time (which I did and loved my HS experience 😉) and there was very very little pressure to do well in school. Nobody cared that much about it, so I kind of succeeded despite that atmosphere. It makes sense to me that being in private school where everyone is really focused on academics means more kids will succeed academically and have better outcomes. Environment does matter a lot to kids growing up so it makes sense to me.

That being said I still wouldn’t pay that much to put my kids into public school. That seems especially crazy to me when you 100% can have the same outcome from public school. I guess it is more of a gamble with what types of friends your child will be surrounded by. I often worry about this and will 100% pick up and move if I see my kids in the wrong situations. But I get how private school would def minimize those chances.

For me personally I plan to make sure we’re living in a wealthy suburb with great public schools to give them a great chance at having a great childhood and not be 100% focused from age 8 at making it into HYP. Let them live and be kids. Also this is anecdotal but many private school kids I’ve met have been a bit weird socially and snobby. I don’t want my kids being like that.


I’m not super worried about diversity other than socioeconomic diversity. Racially, the areas I’m looking at are pretty diverse I think. Haven’t dug into numbers though... but I get your point.

Being in an area with only wealthy suburbanites I think is going to be challenging because I think it’s really important to be grounded in reality as a kid (at least middle school+) and understand that they are very privileged economically. My family and SO’s are very middle class and blue collar so I think that will also help.

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It is also about the peers your children will be surrounded by. That is really invaluable.

I went to a top private high school and all my classmates are extraordinarily successful. There’s nothing like having that kind of friend group in terms of motivation and network.


Meh, RoI at that price isn’t worth it
Invest personal time in your kids Education and use the cash to give them different experiences outside the classroom

Stuffy schools guarantee nothing

I'm a grad of Chicago public schools (selective enrollment schools, specifically), and got degres from a top 5 UG and M7 MBA. I generally agree with OP, with a catch. Private school isn't worth it *if* OP can get the kids into a selective enrollment school or good suburban schools. If the option is Dalton vs some crappy local school, then Dalton is worth it.

Other thoughts:
1. There is value in being friends with privileged people. There is also value in being friends with people from more diverse backgrounds. The value from knowing first hand that black/brown/poor/immigrant/whatever people are not inherently dumb, dangerous or less valuable than elite people is immense in ways that knowing a MD's kid back in middle school is not.

2. This situation is probably like how the predictor of success is not going to harvard, but rather being part of the application pool. Someone good (or in this case, just privileged) enough to even have this as an option has other good options available, and they'll be fine. And for you in particular, the school by itself doesn't make kids do better, it will be the fact that you as parents care a lot about education, and moreover, if you're spending 2k/week, you'll be on your kids asses about succeeding!

3. Crunch the numbers. Maybe sending the kids to good suburban schools despite higher taxes and investing the tuition/tax difference will have a greater marginal ROI than the suburban vs private gap. If you invest 1.2M for 20-30 years, that could be enough for your kids to retire at 30. That has got to be more valuable than the chance of connections with rich kids paying off.


I think this leaves out a huge cultural component for individual schools. If a peer group is committed to doing well in schools versus blowing off academics - that can be a huge factor in how kids treat their own education. I would imagine that's captured by the school's average test scores.

For context, I’m in a heated argument with the wife.

I’m trying to convince her not to fork over close to ~$100k/yr so our kids can go to private school.

They kids are already leagacies, what’s the point of paying for more advantage 😒


Private schools in NYC make a lot of sense. Dalton is one of the best so you can’t go wrong for dropping that kind of money on them. If you move to CT or Westchester then your taxes will more than pay for a very good public school. That’s why they pay huge taxes...After K5 makes more sense to shift to private as NYC public schools generally suck and have too many kids in class to have effective teaching. Btw if you are not from NYC none of the private schools chatter will make sense and your wife will always win the discussion...


I’ll get attacked for this comment but it’s true, private can be worth the money just to make sure you are surrounding your child with the right crowd. I went to public schools and was very much exposed to drug use, extreme behavioral problems, high rate of teen pregnancy, etc. My private school friends had a very different experience. The socioeconomic factors of being able to send a child (and caring enough to do so) to a private school definitely weeds out a lot of the negative influences found in the public setting.


This may not hold true anymore. Truth is, some private schools are struggling to keep a float. Thus, they are faced with expelling $50k/year or dealing with it.

I say this, since I went to a top Ivy (HYP) from public school. And many of my college classmates did as well.

I don’t get why people fork over so much money, when you can get the same outcome for free.


Great story. You must have gone private.


No one’s forcing you to buy it? But it massively improves your chances. That’s like saying why bother paying full fare for HBS if I get it? I can get a full scholarship at Chico State and still get MBB if I network hard enough. You “can” get the same outcome, but your odds of doing so are much worse.


My take: I read your legacy status in a separarte thread, so your kids chances (assuming they fit the average applicant pool) will already be 1/3ish?.

If I were you, I wouldn’t do it.


I don’t care that much about my kids being connected to the ultra wealthy and successful. But I do want to send my kids to Montessori preschool / primary school because I have observed that almost all Montessori grads have the intellectual curiosity and independence that I greatly desire to see in my children.


Do you mind sharing what about this type of school helps with intellectual curious?

Maybe it’s my middle class upbringing, but when it went to ivys I was very turned off by the idea of private school. Folks seemed to have very limited conception of reality and real people. I don’t know if privileged is the right description, or maybe sheltered?

Even if education is marginally better objectively in private, would still send kids to public school for the life experience. I also don’t want my kids to be in a materialistic setting where they’re living comfortable lives and constantly comparing themselves to the uber rich.

If you’re at BCG and a legacy, your kids will do fine. They’ll have plenty of opportunities to network and advance.


Good point. Objectively easier but to what end? I wouldn’t say they were more relaxed, fulfilled, or happier.

Once you get used to that lifestyle it becomes your frame of reference. I would argue I derived much more joy going to Europe for the first time in college than my more privileged classmates. I also had a wider range of career options and opportunities to pursue passion projects because I wasn’t anchored on an inflated income level to maintain a “minimum” standard of living as some of my bschool friends who felt pressured to go into PE for example.

I also want a good life for my kids. I suppose it’s just a different frame of reference on what comprises a good life?


As an update, I totally lost this argument with my wife.

Apparently if you’re not willing to drop $100k/yr, then it means you don’t love your kids. 😒

I’ll be joining my friends and forking over a small fortune over 12 years, so my kids can go to an Ivy and become consultants in the future 🤦‍♂️


We are opposite. I used to think that my kids can go to public school and work hard to get into a good college like me, but my husband insists of sending kids to top private school. The chance of a better life is higher. It is about, if you can afford the private school, are you willing to pay for the increased odds? I think that’s the love in your wife’s mouth. No right or wrong. It’s just choice. Of course, no one knows the future.

I’m a public school peasant myself, but just as an observation, I see a lot of MBBK and strategy shop folks out here defending elite private schools. There’s also a trend of most people on this app wanting to end up at one of said strategy shops idk 🤷🏼‍♂️



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I can’t stand most of my fellow consultants that have gone to the Hackley’s and Andover’s of the world. I always think it’s funny when most of them try to do anything on the shop floor or in a retail environment. They literally have no idea how to talk to ordinary people who never went to college.
It’s not 100%, you get great empathetic people anywhere, but the environment with spoiled / pushed too hard rich kids is something we are avoiding with our kids.


I’m a huge public school supporter. Kids should meet kids who come from different racial, financial, and social backgrounds. And private schools don’t provide that opportunity. Going to a public school has personally made me more empathetic, caring, and compassionate as a result. And I landed at Google w/o any Ivy degree, so anything is possible.

Let’s your kids meet *different* kids. We’ll all be better off.


Different perspective to offer here, but the alternative to private schools in NYC is a struggling public school system. The selective public high schools in NYC are super competitive, requiring testing from an early age since even middle schools are selective there. I’ve seen a few kids currently in the system and the mental health impacts are enormous. Many of my peers who grew up in the system would never wish it upon their kids.

I agree that public can offer the same opportunities as private (attended public through college), but in NYC it’s a bit different.


Born and raised in NYC and grew up in the public school system until I got into one of the specialized high schools (bronx science).

I can confirm that most my peers from public elementary and jhs who didn't get into the specialized high schools ended up working retail or hourly wage work after college... Whereas those that got into the specialized schools ended up in top colleges, corporate positions, lawyers, engineers etc.

It makes a difference what environment your kid is in and the NYC public school system is rough... I personally am planning to move to a suburb with a well rated public school so that I don't need to shell out of my ass for private.

I don't want to risk my kid going through NYC public school for the odd chance that they'll land in a specialized high school.


Consider posting in the NYC bowl for more insight from locals.

OP - Consider doing half private (K-6), half public (6-12)? Or private outside of Manhattan?

The Manhattan private high school scene is a whole level of elitism that I never want my children to be raised with.

There is a reason why Dwight has the acronym - Dumb White Idiots Getting High Together. Or Dalton is the stoner school. Or how Spence, Brearley and Chapins alums spoke up about the racism at their schools.


This is a good point OP, and I think even more worthy of exploring with your wife than the money angle.


It all depends on your public school district. I live in Boston and if you live in a town like Wellesley, Weston or Newton, you can send your kids to public schools and be assured they have a very good opportunity to advance into an Ivy or other good university. However, if you are in Boston itself, you have one opportunity - an exam school called Boston Latin. If your kid doesn't get in there (it's merit-based but there are far more qualified kids than spaces), then your only real option is to pay for private high school. What I don't understand are my friends who pay high taxes for these selective towns like Weston or Wellesley and then ALSO pay for private school for their kids.


I have never wanted kids less than after reading these comments.

I side with OP, but maybe for the wrong reasons. I can't count all the miserable people I know from HYP. Doesn't seem like the right thing to optimize for when raising a human being.

God willing, your kids will have better motivations and happier lives than what we typically see in consulting, IB, and biglaw.


First generation low income student that went to HSW by way of the military. I don’t think there’s nearly enough emphasis here on the kind of person your kid may turn out to be if they’re only surrounded by those who are wrapped up with all the luxuries and privileges of the world. So many of my classmates didn’t understand how to talk to a normal person, are frighteningly out of touch with the way that the majority of America lives, and generally are assholes to those who are not as affluent as them. 

I do see the other side. I didn’t understand how the other half lived and didn’t understand the different social rules that existed at the upper levels of society. These are the rules that are essential to holding the kind of jobs that we have and of being ‘successful’ in America. You can buy your kids the pedigree and the network, but it also comes at a cost. there are good people out there in every part of society, but the generalization here seems to apply to the majority.


It’s not really the same outcome. That’s like saying a Trump university graduate made it into McKinsey once, so it’s the same as Harvard.

The expensive private schools are basically a whole different environment (which has upsides and downsides). Whether it’s worth the price tag is a pretty personal question.


Thought of differently, an A at BCG has a much higher % chance than a comparable analyst at Big 4 to getting into HBS - shown through our statistics. We’re probably not significantly smarter than them, but the experiences BCG typically provides combined with the rep and expectations of a BCGer means we have way better odds as soon as you sign the offer. Whether that’s financially worth it to you is separate (not sure what I’ll do for my kids either) but I think this a very real & valid argument


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