Seven Myths About Independent Schools

National Association of Independent Schools President Patrick F. Bassett
National Association of Independent Schools President Patrick F. Bassett

By Patrick F. Bassett

President, National Association of Independent Schools

August 1, 2009

We know why families choose independent schools. They value what Tony Jarvis, past-head of Roxbury Latin School, called environments where students "are known and loved," and they believe what the research documents, that independent schools' intimacy, manageable size, and universally high expectations for behavior and achievement produce graduates who succeed in college and life.

We know as well why families who can afford independent schools don't choose them (aside from the "confirmation bias" we all have of preferring what we have chosen to other alternatives). Families who reject independent schools tend to believe in one or more myths about independent schools.

Myth #1: Independent schools are only for the rich.

Fact: While it's true that independent schools are chosen more often by families from higher income brackets, it's also true that a significant proportion of independent schools' population is comprised of the three lowest socioeconomic quintiles (students who often receive financial aid) and the fourth quintile, the middle to upper middle class families who find a way (including grandparent contributions) to afford a quality education for their children, seeing it as the best investment they can make in their children's future, whatever the cost and sacrifice.