How To Find The Best Prep Schools In The US

Prep Schools

As ludicrous as it may seem, we all know that finding the best prep schools has become a national pastime for most young American parents. Where the only thing young parents had to worry about in years gone by was which kindergarten or preschool they were going to send their toddlers to when the time came and enjoying their formative years, things have changed dramatically in the past few decades.

Now finding the best prepschools is done before most of the children even learn to read, and often simultaneously with the search for a good kindergarten. Together with completing application forms to get their toddlers into kindergarten, parents are also filling in applications to the most prestigious and elite college-preparatory schools.

These college-preparatory schools, colloquially known as “prep schools” are private educational institutions, and include day-schools and boarding schools, and either can be either completely secular or affiliated with a particular faith. Entrance into these institutions is ultra-competitive, tuition is high and the facilities are top-notch. They have one aim, and that is to provide the best education to students and funnel them into the top universities in the country.

Finding the best prep schools means that one needs to do some research and look at various statistics about each of the schools with certain criteria in mind.

What makes the top schools the best depends on various factors such as:

  • The size of the school’s endowment
  • The faculty to student ratio
  • The percentage of the faculty possessing advanced degrees
  • The percentage of graduates that matriculated into top colleges such as Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University, over the previous five years

Checking the percentage of graduates that made it into the most prestigious universities is important, as that is the main reason for finding the best prepschools to send your child to in the first place. The fact is that the name of the high school you attend will open doors for life, so it pays to get into a really good one. One should bear in mind that although this article is only concentrating on the top twenty or so prep schools, there are other schools which also have high matriculation rates, and their exclusion does not mean that they are not also excellent schools.Best Prep Schools

The statistics speak for themselves, and research into finding the best prepschools in the country will reveal that getting into the right prep school really does provide a pipeline to elite higher education. On average, nearly one-third of the graduates from the top twenty prep schools end up being accepted into the above-mentioned top ten universities, as opposed to the 0.01% of all U.S. high school graduates that make it into these prestigious famed halls, according to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Benefits Of Finding The Best Prep schools

Apart from the fact that they offer an in into the best colleges, there are many reasons for finding the best prep schools for your children to attend, and that is what they offer:

  • Small classes mean a higher faculty to student ratio, which means more individualized attention
  • 24 hours access to faculty in the case of boarding schools
  • A environment which prepares them for what they will face at an extremely competitive top university
  • Top of the line facilities and extracurricular activities such as competition-sized swimming pools, ice rinks, athletic fields, tennis courts, and even golf courses.
  • Other facilities include world-famous American art collections and nature laboratories

Finding the best prepschools to which to send your offspring will ensure that they get an excellent academic education, but also that they get a well-rounded education, including being able to follow their sporting dreams, and the best facilities in which to train. Many of the top colleges follow the sports stars of the top prep schools and recruit them, offering either full or partial sports scholarships to enrol in their institution, which is of great help to those parents who are struggling financially and could possibly not afford to send their children to these prestigious universities otherwise.

According to a study done by Forbes on finding the best prepschools, the number one preparatory school in America is the Trinity School, which is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in New York City. Trinity is a co-ed day-school, and was founded in 1709.

Some of the impressive statistics which elevated Trinity to the number one spot are:

  • It has an average enrolment of 960 students in kindergarten through 12th grade
  • The teacher to student ratio is one teacher to every six students
  • An excess of 80% of the faculty hold an advanced degree
  • The school has an endowment of $40 million
  • The facilities are first-rate
  • In the past five years 41% of Trinity’s graduates have gone to the Ivies, MIT or Stanford

Understandably, tuition at Trinity is not cheap, and one year of schooling in the Upper School (grades 9-12) is in the region of $35,000. Trinity does, however, offer financial aid.

Top 20 Preparatory Schools In America

According to the research done on finding the best prep schools by Forbes, the top 20 schools in America are as follows:

1. Trinity School – New York, N.Y.
Founded: 1709
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 41%
Student/Faculty ratio: 6:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 82%
Endowment: $40.4 million
Notable alumni: John and Patrick McEnroe

2. Horace Mann – Bronx, N.Y.
Founded: 1887
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 36%
Student/Faculty ratio: 12:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 94%
Notable alumni: Jack Kerouac

3. Phillips Academy Andover – Andover, Mass.
Founded: 1778
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 33%
Student/Faculty ratio: 5:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 73%
Endowment: $641.8 million
Notable alumni: George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush

4. The Brearley School – New York, N.Y.
Founded: 1884
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 37%
Student/Faculty ratio: 6:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 73%
Endowment: $106 million
Notable alumni: Caroline Kennedy

5. Roxbury Latin – West Roxbury, Mass.
Founded: 1645
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 36%
Student/Faculty ratio: 8:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 76%
Endowment: $105 million
Notable alumni: James Pierpont (principal founder of Yale)

6. Phillips Exeter Academy – Exeter, N.H.
Founded: 1781
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 29% (three-year average)
Student/Faculty ratio: 5:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 83%
Endowment: $854 million
Notable alumni: Mark Zuckerberg

7. Collegiate School – New York, N.Y.
Founded: 1628
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 40%
Student/Faculty ratio: 5:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 72%
Endowment: $61.7 million
Notable alumni: John F. Kennedy Jr.

8. St. Paul’s – Concord, N.H.
Founded: 1856
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 30% (four-year average)
Student/Faculty ratio: 5:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 74%
Endowment: $346 million
Notable alumni: William Randolph Hearst

9. The Spence School – New York, N.Y.
Founded: 1892
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 33%
Student/Faculty ratio: 7:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 73%
Notable alumni: Gwyneth Paltrow

10. The Winsor School – Boston, Mass.
Founded: 1886
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 31%
Student/Faculty ratio: 7:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 89%
Endowment: $50.4 million
Notable alumni: Olympic gold medalist Tenley Albright

11. The Chapin School – New York, N.Y.
Founded: 1901
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 30%
Student/Faculty ratio: 7:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 82%
Endowment: $75.8 million
Notable alumni: Vera Wang, Queen Noor of Jordan

12. Harvard-Westlake – North Hollywood, Calif.
Founded: 1900
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 30%
Student/Faculty ratio: 8:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 84%
Endowment: $45 million
Notable alumni: Candice Bergen, Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal

13. The Dalton School – New York, N.Y.
Founded: 1919
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 31%
Student/Faculty ratio: 7:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 75%
Notable alumni: Claire Danes, Chevy Chase

14. Lawrenceville School – Lawrenceville, N.J.
Founded: 1810
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 27%
Student/Faculty ratio: 8:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 76%
Endowment: $270 million
Notable alumni: Malcolm Forbes

15. Groton School – Groton, Mass.
Founded: 1884
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 26%
Student/Faculty ratio: 5:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 76%
Endowment: $270 million
Notable alumni: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

16. Milton Academy – Milton, Mass.
Founded: 1798
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 26% (2009)
Student/Faculty ratio: 5:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 78%
Endowment: $153 million
Notable alumni: T.S. Eliot, Robert F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy

17. College Preparatory School – Oakland, Calif.
Founded: 1960
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 29%
Student/Faculty ratio: 8:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 83%
Endowment: $12 million
Notable alumni: billionaire Cher Wang

18. Noble and Greenough School – Dedham, Mass.
Founded: 1866
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 27%
Student/Faculty ratio: 6:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 60%
Endowment: $73 million
Notable alumni: Louis Agassiz Shaw, inventor of iron lung

19. Hopkins School – New Haven, Conn.
Founded: 1660
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 23% (two-year average)
Student/Faculty ratio: 6:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 81%
Endowment: $60 million
Notable alumni: Composer Charles Ives

20. Deerfield Academy – Deerfield, Mass.
Founded: 1797
Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline: 23% (2009)
Student/faculty ratio: 6:1
Faculty holding advanced degrees: 42%
Endowment: $306 million
Notable alumni: Matthew Fox, several Rockefellers

At the end of the day, finding the best prep schools is important not only for the academic tuition, but also because graduates of the best prep schools acquire “the ability to treat hierarchies as ladders, not ceilings” due to the fact that the individual attention that they receive from the faculty affords them an unequaled self-confidence and naturalness in their dealings with authority figures. This translates into higher wages post-college, compared to what their peers will get.