I was ecstatic the day my son was accepted to the pre-K program at one of New York City’s most respected private schools. He was 4! He had to be “interviewed” and observed in a classroom setting, as well as take a test called the ERB, which private schools required for admission. I’m surprised they didn’t have him write an essay.
We were middle class, but wanted our kids to go to private school because the majority of Manhattan public schools were pretty dismal. Even the “good” ones in 1984 had overcrowded classes and lacked decent art, music and language programs. We asked Douglas’s parents to help us with the tuition, which was around $5,000.
Today, my son sent me a link to a story about New York City private school tuition topping $40,000! Princeton’s tuition is less, the article reported. And while 60 percent of Princeton students receive need-based financial aid, less than 20 percent of NYC private school students are offered aid.
Besides the insane tuitions, the competition to get into a NYC private school is now fiercer than ever. Some children aren’t accepted to any school, even if their parents are affluent. I don’t know what I’d do if I had young children today. Move to the suburbs, where the schools are better, or stay in Manhattan and send my child to public school? Private school might offer lots of perks—like foreign exchange programs and Mandarin classes—but at what cost?
I asked my son whether he thinks it’s worth it: “Def not,” he answered. (BTW, he left the private school after eighth grade and went to Stuyvesant, a public high school, which he adored.)