Old Mill Middle North

Is Every Private School a Preparatory School?

Parents who are concerned about their children's ability to get into college are interested in seeing what options Toronto private schools have to offer. One of the confusing items surrounding private school in Toronto is the difference between a private school and a preparatory school. While many private schools are also considered prep schools, not all of them qualify for this label.

What is a Preparatory School

A preparatory school is a private school, independent of the Toronto public school system, that is designed to get students ready for college. Every aspect of the school is designed for college prep. Academics are emphasized more than extra-curricular activities, although extra-curriculars are available. This type of Toronto independent school typically has low student-to-teacher ratios. Because of this, the teachers are able to give the students more attention than they would likely receive in a public school. This, in theory, will give the students a better instructional environment.

Some prep schools are also boarding schools. Both local and out-of-town students can take advantage of the boarding option. By living at school, students are able to focus more on their academics without the distractions of home. Some prep schools are gender specific, another tactic that is designed to eliminate distractions from academics.

Many Toronto prep schools are just high schools, without a junior high or elementary. Some of the more elite schools will have a full program, but many parents choose this option only for the last four years of high school, as this is when the preparation for the university scene really begins.

What Is a Private School?

A private school in Toronto is simply a school that is independent from the Toronto public school system. This can be a preparatory school, but it may not be. Some Toronto private schools have a completely different focus, such as a Montessori approach to education or a vocational training focus. Preparatory schools are private schools, but not all private schools are preparatory schools.

All private schools, whether or not they are prep schools, charge tuition. In most cases, a preparatory school will have a high tuition requirement, because they are considered one of the best ways to prepare for college. In fact, some Toronto independent school options have tuition costs comparable to a college or university. Some have scholarship programs available for students with qualifying GPAs.

Choosing an Independent School

Parents who are interested in prep schools need to do their research before enrolling their students, because not all prep schools have the success statistics that would be assumed based on the cost of tuition. Ask the school for their statistics relating to the number of students who went on to complete a college or university program. Find out if the school has any records about the number of students who qualified for academic scholarships in college. Choose a preparatory school that has excellent numbers indicating the future success of their students.

Also, look for a school that has a well-rounded education. Some prep schools focus so strongly on academics that students are not taught other important life skills, such as proper physical fitness or financial planning on a personal budget level. While getting an education that prepares the child for college is important, it is just as important to prepare a child for real life, because not all students will attend college, no matter how well intentioned the parents and the school are.

Once you find a school that has excellent success reports combined with a well-rounded education, you have probably found the right school. Apply early, because most Toronto private schools fill up quickly, and some prep schools have stringent enrolment requirements. By choosing the right school carefully, you will prepare your student for college as well as you possibly can.


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