Is an Independent School the Right Fit for Your Family?

posted in: Mason Prep

When it comes to choosing a school, parents today have a dizzying array of options. In addition to their neighborhood public schools, there are public charter and magnet schools, private schools, and parochial schools...not to mention homeschooling.

With so many options, why would a parent choose to invest thousands of dollars per year in independent school education? And what even makes a school “independent?” Aren’t all private schools considered independent schools?

Being armed with accurate information can help parents make the best decision for their families and realize the value of investing in their children’s future. Here are a few questions parents commonly have as they work to choose the right school for their child:

What is an Independent School?

An independent school is one that is independently governed and does not depend on a municipal or state government for funding. The school meets its operating expenses by charging tuition, which is often supplemented by fundraising and/or an endowment. Each independent school is guided by its unique mission and governed by its own board of trustees. The school must be accredited by a state or regional accrediting authority.

Is Every Private School an Independent School?

No, for example, parochial schools are often governed at the diocesan level rather than at the school level. A parochial school has its own principal, but its curriculum and other policies are likely set by the diocese rather than by the school’s faculty and administration.

What are the Advantages of Independent Schools?

An independent school can make decisions based on what is best for its students and what is true to its mission. (Read more about the importance of consistency ) The mission of an independent school sets the school’s course and allows it to serve its special purpose in its community. The fact that each independent school has a unique mission makes it much more likely for parents to find a school that is just the right fit for their child.

How do Independent Schools Compare to Public Schools?

Although independent schools, like public schools, use standardized testing to measure their students’ progress, decision-making at independent schools is not driven by standardized tests to the degree that it is at public schools. Many public schools across the country have reduced or eliminated recess or classes in science, social studies, and the arts to strengthen their students’ outcomes on state-mandated tests.

Because of their excellent teachers, their smaller class sizes, their high academic standards, and their positive classroom climates, independent schools are places where children can thrive without spending inordinate amounts of time on test preparation. Instead, independent schools can devote attention, energy, and effort to creating experiences through which students can develop the soft skills necessary for success in our increasingly interconnected and rapidly evolving society.

What Are the Results of an Independent School Education?

The High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE) is a survey designed to investigate the attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of high school students about their work. In the 2017 survey, comparisons between the responses from independent school students and public-school students include:

  • I asked or answered questions in class.
    • Independent school: 61%
    • Public school: 42%

  • I received feedback from teachers on assignments.
    • Independent school: 64%
    • Public school: 37%

  • I discussed questions in class that have no clear answer.
    • Independent school: 46%
    • Public school: 25%

  • My school contributed very much to the following skills:
    • Thinking critically (asking Why?):
      • Independent school: 58%
      • Public school: 30%
    • Developing creative ideas and solutions:
      • Independent school: 47%
      • Public school: 23%
    • Speaking effectively:
      • Independent school: 47%
      • Public school: 25%

  • My school contributed very much to the following behaviors:
    • Treating people with respect:
      • Independent school: 51%
      • Public school: 31%
    • Working well with others to complete tasks:
      • Independent school: 43%
      • Public school: 25%

How Are Relationships Fostered at Independent Schools?

Statistics can only explain a part of the value of an investment in an independent school education. Added value in independent schools is especially found in the relationships that are fostered: relationships between teachers and students, between teachers and parents, and between families with shared values.

The class size and school size at most independent schools lend themselves to the development of close and powerful relationships. At Mason Prep (especially as we are a K-8 school ), most teachers and staff have not only gotten to know our students and their parents, but also many of their grandparents, their younger siblings, and even their dogs (like Chumley, Charlie, and Sister!)

Those who teach at and run independent schools know that parents work very hard to invest in their children’s educations. They are committed to helping them to realize an outstanding return on that investment. More importantly, they are committed to their students and to providing them with the best possible education – not only in reading, math, and science, but also in collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, communication, and citizenship.

Ready to Learn More about Mason Prep School?

We would love to speak further with you about the opportunities available for your child at Mason Prep. Request more information or watch our virtual tour to see an independent school in action. We look forward to learning about your family and sharing more about our school during this exciting time. Feel free to contact our Director of Enrollment, Lawrie Stamatiades, at or 843.805.6015.