Saturday, March 11, 2006

Compared to some high schools, Harvard's a bargain

NEW YORK (AP) -- Harvard is great, but it's no Riverdale Country School.

The Bronx private school will charge tuition of $31,200 next school year for sixth- through 12th-graders, more than $3,300 higher than this year's rate at the esteemed university. Bus rides are not included.

Riverdale is among several elite New York City high schools that has surpassed or is approaching the $30,000 mark.

Manhattan's Trinity School will soon charge $30,170 for seniors, private school observers say. And plenty of schools are just a hair under the $30,000 threshold. The Horace Mann School in the Bronx, for instance, will charge about $29,000 for the 2006-07 school year.

Dozens of people are often on waiting lists to get into the schools, even as prices rise.

The elite schools are so sought-after because they boast small classes and top-notch teachers, not to mention high-quality facilities, especially for athletics. But perhaps more than anything, the most elite offer their reputations, something that could give an edge to students applying to top-tier colleges.

"Tuition, however high or low it may be, or whatever it is, it still costs us more than that to educate a student," said Mary Ludemann, a spokeswoman for Riverdale. "We are trying to raise faculty salaries, teachers' salaries. The only way to do that is to raise tuition."

In many ways, the higher tuition bills are not a surprise. New York is by far the most expensive place in the country to send a child to private school -- driven by the high cost of living in a city where apartments routinely sell for $1 million and it can cost a small fortune just to park your car.

The median 12th-grade tuition in Manhattan independent schools -- a group not including parochial schools -- was $27,200 in 2005-06; nationwide it was $16,970, according to the National Association of Independent Schools.

"New York is the only region of the country where there are numerous schools in that price bracket -- close to $30,000," said Myra McGovern, a spokeswoman for the association.
And it's not just high schools with large tuitions. At Riverdale, preschool tuition cost $24,500 for the current school year, while kindergarten through fifth grade is $27,150.

While the cost of living in New York is a big reason for the jump in tuition, some schools are offering more specialized programs and classes that also drive the cost of instruction up.
Schools define tuition in different ways. Some do not include bus transportation; others charge extra for things like books and activities.

McGovern said parents feel it's worth the cost.

"It's investing in their children's lives," she said. "Many people are willing to spend that much on a car. This, for most parents, parents who send their children to independent schools, pays dividends for a lifetime."


DRT said...

Another salvo in class warfare?

And if it is, what should we (as a nation) do about it?

These kids graduating from this high school are surely on the fast track to an Ivy League education and therefore on another fast track to corporate or government leadership.

The elite class that can afford these exhorbitant rates are (I imagine) gleeful that they can buy this exclusivity and ensure that the family line remains elite.

And yet, as much distaste as I have for this elite class, I'm a capitalist to my very core. The only bearing it has on me is the additional work (and therefore knowledge) I have to gain to place myself among these elites and bully my family into place inside the elite class.

When I hear of class warfare, I imagine myself on the hopelessly underfunded and defeatist line and force myself to work harder than those around me to join it, rather than rail against it.

I sincerely believe that there is more chance of changing things that affront me from the inside, than from the outside.

Of course, once I place myself on the winning side of class warfare, who is to say I want to change anything?

Ric Caric said...

"Another salvo in class warfare"--That can be read as an ambiguous statement drt. Are the private high schools part in NY of the wealthy's approach to class warfare on the East Coast? In other words part of the class war of the elite. Or is it complaining about the advantages of the wealthy that is class warfare? Generally speaking, the American media views the advantages of the wealthy as natural and inevitable and any criticism of those advantages as "class warfare." What about you?

One of the things that was interesting about your post was your placing yourself in competition with the wealthy students at the private prep academies in NY. Let's line up their advantages--elite manners and interests derived from their families, elite contacts derived from families, top of the line prep school, resources for developing artistic, musical, editing abilities, and academic summer camps before getting to Harvard with its enormous prestige. What you place against all of those advantages is your work ethic ("The only bearing it has on me is the additional work . . .).

I'm not saying that you won't do well. But in your version of class competition, you're competing as an "individual" while your elite competitors have extensive social support. Indeed, their group affiliation gives them an enormous advantage over you because you would be leaving your "group" in your effort to join "theirs."

war-is-peace said...

Upon reading this article, my first reaction is that this is "just how it is in the U.S." If your family can afford it, you can do it. In trying to justify the cost, I must point out that the additional cost for New York City is BECAUSE it is NYC. If I had children and could afford it, I would surely send my child to a prep school.

I, too, do not want to preach against these institutions for I would partake if presented opportunity. I do wish our country approached education in a more serious manner than we now do. If a student shows promise, the sky should be the limit. A student's access should not be limited because of a lack of family wealth.

I suppose my views are probably more aligned with Marx's in a sense that we should all share in what society has to offer equally.

FeelMySoulBeatin said...

I think it's ridiculous that we have to pay for education whether it's pre-school, high school, or college. I understand it costs money to educate people of any age, but why should you be deprived of the best education you can get simply because you can't afford it? I'm at Morehead because my mother couldn't afford the higher tuitions of the better schools I was accepted to. I had scholarships, but not enough to pay for the $21,000 a semester. Education will never be free, though so I'll just have to keep dreaming.

hawkeye711 said...

Paying $30,000 for high school could be one of the most insane concepts ever.This is only going to further the gap between social classes.Why someone needs to pay $30,000 for there senior year of high school when I would be surprised if my school's yearly budget was this high.To me,it's a way of telling young people that if you can't afford private school's don't get your hopes up for college. I often thought that higher education meant learning at a university not the cost of attending the university.

WhosYoDaddy25 said...

I'd have to agree with what war-is-peace had to say about this article. The United States is a great country where if you put in the effort and make a lot of money, you can spend it on whatever you want. I think prep schools are obviously going to prepare the kids that go there for the life they're going to live after they get out of high school and college. Manhattan and Riverdale charging over $30,000 a year is kind of hard to swallow for those who are a lot less fortunate, but that's the way our capitalist economy works and thrives.

mindjogger said...

$30,000 for school is ridiculous. I agree that the most important investment you could make in your lifetime would be your education. I think that most of education is on your own terms. You cannot pay someone tons of money to make you learn. You have to do that on your own. You have to have some sort of motivation to want to learn. Of course there is going to be a difference in the quality of education between yale and morehead, but I think someone from morehead can be just as smart or smarter than a person from yale, or any other prestigious university. It is all in the motivation of the student. I knew some people that went to a private high school. They were very stuck up, and were some of the dumbest people I knew. Just because mommy and daddy have and extra 40 grand to shel out, doesn’t mean that that kid is any better than you. It just means that you need to work a little harder to prove that kid is an idiot.

missky06 said...

I think this all comes down to people feeling that unless they send their kids to $30,000 a year high schools, than they are not flashing their money around enough. I'm sure that these high schools and college that cost a fortune are great academic schools, but it doesn't mean that if you go to Morehead than your not as smart. Parents are willing to spend as much on their kids college as they are on a car, and that is insane. There is no reason why college should be this much, because there are so many people that want to go to college, but because of that financial burden they can't. It seems like, unless you are wealthy than you can't take advantage of the nicer things in life, like a good education.

florenceyall13 said...

$24,500. With this amount of money, people in the U.S. are buying brand new cars, putting down payments on dream homes, and if you live in NY apparently sending their 5 year old to kindergarten. It is absolutely mind-blowing that people are willing to dish out this kind of money for school in a land where you have "the right to a free education." I understand what the benefits of a top of the line education can be but lets face it, here in the United States if you don't have money and a good name your chance of attending one of these prestigious schools are slim to none. How do you think President Bush got into Yale? It really isn't fair that this is the reality of our education programs but it is and until something changes I guess we're stuck here at Morehead. (Haha.)

big and little said...

I can't imagine paying 30,000 dollars to go to high school. I went to a public school in eastern Kentucky probably like many of the people reading and posting on this site. So obviously paying that much seems crazy to me. On the other hand though I have no idea how much better those private schools are than the high school I attended, if any. I suspect that the academic standards are higher than the public school I attended. The system is set up for the wealthy to suceed and for the poor and middle class to stay stuck in that class. It is a case of the rich catering to the rich. Only the wealthy can go to these private schools and so the wealthy have the best education and with the best education comes the best opportunities. I would like for there to be equal opportunities based on merit instead of how thick someones wallet is but that simply isn't the case. Even though the odds aren't in my favor I can still work my way to a better life but the road to my success is not paved with money. I am not saying that rich people don't have to work to get what they want, but they don't necessarily have to work as hard at making opportunities for themselves. I have to make my opportunities and they just have to take advantage of theirs.

bearclawch said...

This is an issue of economic choices and class interpretations. On the economic side, many capitalists realize that by pricing something high, it transmits an artificial image of quality. Luxury cars, clothing, and jewelry may not be better than something half of its price, but it MUST be better somehow to be priced that way. This doesn't make everyone want it, but it makes some desire it. This practice is perfect for a limited-admissions school, more than likely many will be rejected anyway due to overcrowding. They could ask less, but would still have the same attendance. As far as classes go, spending that much money gives you bragging rights. Yes, I CAN afford for my little brat to attend a high school more expensive than private colleges. And like my economic article states, they believe they are getting the best that money can buy.

YoudontknowME said...

Education is a costly thing. I don't feel you should have to pay for any education, because no matter if its free or cost money alot of people dont consider it anyhow. If my child was attending a highschool that cost $31,000 year believe me she/he wouldn't attend there long. I think it ridiculous. You pay to go to school and when you get out of school, you get a job and still paying for school. Student loans dosen't do anything but put you in debt. But that dont stop institutions from raising tution each year. Pretty soon there will be no one attending college and alot more people would lose jobs because of it. I attend Morehead State and I'm out of state paying $20,000 a year. I dont think i can pay this much longer cause I dont have enough financial aid or student loans to keep paying it. So year paying for school is crazy, but it can be worth your time. Thats only if you dont end up paying student loans all you life!