Choosing a school for your children is a big deal. The school that you choose for them is where they'll spend the better part of their waking hours for roughly half the days in the year, for years and years. Their experiences in school will shape their lives in too many ways to predict. There are so many options to choose from that it can be hard to decide. Public schools, charter and magnet schools, religious and non-religious private schools, and even homeschooling are all options that may be on your radar. It can be easy to discount your neighborhood Catholic school if you're not Catholic yourself, but if you do, you may be passing up a great opportunity. Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider Catholic school for your children.
An Affordable Private School Experience
Finances are a major reason to consider Catholic school over other private schools. Private school is a big expense for any family, and a private school that costs tens of thousands of dollars a year may be out of reach, especially if you have more than one child to educate.
Catholic schools traditionally are priced more affordably than non-religious private schools, and often more affordably than other types of religious private schools. An average Catholic school tuition rate is $5,330 for an elementary school student and $9,790 for a secondary school student. By way of comparison, Christian private schools and Jewish schools average $7,960 a year for elementary students and $16,520 a year by middle and high school.
The lower costs of Catholic school can allow your children to reap the obvious benefits of private schools, like low class sizes and more individualized attention from teachers without cutting the family budget to the bone or going into debt.
A Values-Based Education
Even if you're not Catholic, you may find that Catholic school can provide your children with an education based in the values that you find important. This is particularly true for families who identify with various Christian denominations, but don't happen to be Catholic.
In a Catholic school, your children will be allowed and even encouraged to pray and read the Bible in school. Students in Catholic school are taught values that appeal to many religious families, like respect for parents and adults, the importance of family, abstinence-only sex education, and more. Even many non-religious parents find the values taught by Catholic schools to be beneficial for their children and in line with the values that they try to instill in their children at home.
Catholic school students from non-Catholic homes are usually encouraged by their families to simply consider the Catholic-specific dogma to be part of their education about different world religions, which many families consider a plus. Non-Catholic students attend mass in Catholic schools, but aren't required to take communion or be baptized.
The Catholic School Advantage
The long-term effect of Catholic school is something that has been studied extensively. Research shows that students who attend Catholic schools do have an advantage later in life. Catholic school students have been shown to have more academic achievements than other students, and minority students and economically disadvantaged students who attend Catholic schools are more likely to graduate and attend college than their counterparts attending public schools.
The result is adults who are both more successful and more socially responsible than their same-age cohorts. Adults who graduated from Catholic schools tend to earn higher wages, vote more regularly, and do more to serve their communities than non-Catholic school graduates.
It also doesn't hurt that Catholic schools are very accessible, even in areas where other types of private schools are few and far between. In many areas, neighborhood Catholic schools may even be easier for parents to access than public schools. If you're searching for the right school for your child, don't count out the nearby Catholic schools. Take a tour, meet with the administrators, and observe the classes. You may find that Catholic school is just what you've been searching for.