The Parent Dilemma: Public or Private Education

Posted on 26. Nov, 2013 by in Your Wealthy Life

Public or private school busses

There comes a time in every parents life when they reach a cross-roads in their decision making abilities.

Private or public schooling?

What appears to be a relatively trivial choice from the distance and warm glow of your child’s birth, becomes a very distressing and real life dilemma (albeit a first world one) in far less time than you first thought possible.

The great debate

As someone who tends to watch their money reasonably closely, my initial reaction to the whole debate is to dismiss private schooling and opt for the public option, firm in my willingness to provide active support and assistance in my children’s education.

Unfortunately things aren’t so cut and dry. While the idea of effectively paying for a brand new car every 1-2 years doesn’t sit too well with me, there are far more considerations to take into account than just the financial ones.

Public schooling has a lot going for it these days and may are even becoming quite elite in their own right, but private schools still hold a certain amount of sway when it comes to educational opportunities, social preparedness and extracurricular activities. My wife and I are both very keen to see our children have the best education we can provide for them, so this decision has been quite a difficult one.

Although some suggest that private schooling is effective at all levels and particularly so during the early development years, we are leaning towards a public primary school followed by a private secondary school for both of our children.

Hopefully this choice proves to be a good. While we will be doing everything we can on the home front to ensure we support our kids, only time will tell. In any case, we like to think that being actively involved will be worth far more to the development of knowledge and good habits than working longer hours to fund the required cost.

Funding an education

While it’s nice to have the decision made and a plan in place, we know that we need to be mindful of the illusion of breathing space that our decision has created. Secondary education will roll around in a short amount of time, so we need to get to work on establishing an education fund for both of our girls.

After finally settling on a decision and a plan of attack, I thought that we had our long range planning under control, but as with most well laid plans our foresight got the better of us.

Although it is still early days, my wife and I both feel that we would like to encourage our children to attend university. Given the importance we have placed on education, it is a logical progression. Of course this means further tuition costs, which we need to build into the education fund.

I’m in the process of investigating education savings plans and although I live in Australia, I’ve been quite interested in reading about the US 529 saving plans and similar options like the RESP grant in Canada. Things are a little different for us here, but there are a few different strategies I could use to leverage regular savings and grow this over the next 8-10 years (before it starts to get used!).

A little help?

As you may have guessed, my wife and I have very little to base our judgement on (we both attended public schools), so any additional thoughts and comments are welcome, particularly if you have experienced a similar situation yourself.

Please feel free to add a comment below and weigh in on the debate!

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2 Responses to “The Parent Dilemma: Public or Private Education”

  1. I am the product of a totally public K-12 education. I did however play soccer with several guys who went to a local private school. They played on our team because their school didn’t have a team. I noticed that most of the private school kids were way behind on their social preparedness, they were just somewhat socially awkward. I’m not saying that is the case for all private school students, but when you are in a smaller community catered to your needs you often don’t develop social skills as quickly.

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  2. David

    20. Jan, 2014

    I went to private school for the first 6 grades and then transferred to the public system. My parents could not afford to keep me and my sister in private school.

    I was about 1 1/2 years ahead of the students in the public system. I had developed great study habits, which I used all the time. I went to College and completed a BS. I have gone back for my Masters and finally my PhD. The skills I was able to build from the private school have help me all though my studies.

    I am paying for my sister kids to go to private school. My private school was more strict then this one. So hard to say if they will build the same skills. We had looked in to the public system here and our public schools were not doing well. There where better public systems in other towns and thought about moving there, but decide to do private school. Now I am luck that I have done well and could afford to send them to private school.

    So, I would recommend private school. But you need to check on all of them public and private before deciding.

    Cost is a big factor too. So there is no one answer for this type of question.

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