Outside of the home, few aspects have a more meaningful impact on a child’s development and his or her future than the schools they attend. Still, for the vast majority of children in the U.S., school enrollment is largely a matter of circumstance rather than choice. Over 90% of the 54 million students in grades K-12 attend a public school – typically the one closest to where they live.
While most parents in the U.S. enroll their children in local, taxpayer-funded public schools, others opt to send their kids to a private school. While private schools charge tuition, they tend to offer distinct advantages over a public education. (Here is a look at states where public schools are losing the most students.)
Private schools often have smaller class sizes, allowing for more individualized instruction and closer student-teacher and parent-teacher relationships. Many private schools also have more rigorous academic standards than public schools and emphasize a well-rounded education that extends beyond the classroom. Private school students tend to have higher standardized test scores and are more likely to later attend top-tier colleges and universities than those with a public education. Additionally, unlike public schools, private institutions can have a religious affiliation or a single-sex student body, which may be important to some parents.
With over 30,000 private institutions to choose from, parents who can afford it and wish to have plenty of options. However, some private high schools stand out and have a reputation for offering an especially high-quality education.
Using data compiled by Niche, an education research platform, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 best private high schools in America for 2023. Niche ranked schools based on a weighted index of six measures, including class size, self-reported standardized test scores, post-graduate college enrollment, and parent and student surveys. A full description of each measure and its weighting is available here.
Most of the private high schools on this list are in the Northeast, particularly in New York state and the New England region, though California alone is home to 14, the most of any state. Some of these schools are centuries old, and many have a distinguished group of alumni, including U.S. presidents, senators, and supreme court justices, as well as notable artists, writers, athletes, and business leaders.
It is important to note that while some of these schools offer financial assistance packages, tuition costs are beyond what most families can likely afford. A single year at nearly every high school on this list costs more than $30,000, and half of them charge over $50,000. In many cases, these figures do not include room and board. (Here is a look at the richest school district in every state.)
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