Private day schools are an excellent option for families looking to have their children receive a premier education, while still experiencing life with the family. There are many types of private schools available, but the most popular two options are private day schools and private boarding schools. Often, private day schools and boarding schools get confused with one another. So what is the difference and why choose a private day school over a boarding school?
The primary difference between boarding schools and private day schools is the living arrangements for students. Boarding schools require students to live on school campus in dorms, while students who attend private day schools continue to live at home.
|1||Phillips Academy||Andover, Massachusetts|
|2||Phillips Exeter Academy||Exeter, New Hampshire|
|3||Stanford Online High School||Redwood City, California|
|4||The Lawrenceville School||Lawrence Township, New Jersey|
|5||Harvard-Westlake School||Los Angeles, California|
Although boarding schools are often much more expensive, they can provide students with a fully immersed educational experience. Boarding schools provide many benefits for families including excellent academics, a variety of athletic programs, social life, extracurricular activities, and independence, and they can help relieve the stress on busy parents. While boarding schools offer a unique and quality school experience, there are also several downsides. First, many students experience homesickness and feel disconnected from their families. Many parents also feel this disconnect and feel they have a very small role in raising their children.
Private day schools allow families to stay together, and for parents to be more involved in their children’s education and development. For a busy parent, the time commitment may seem like a downside, but other than that, private day schools have very few cons. Students often get a comparable education to that of a boarding school, and they have many opportunities to make friends and participate in extracurricular activities.
Best Private Day Schools
There is a common misconception that the best and most prestigious private day schools are only in New York City. While there are many private day schools in New York, there are also many distinguished private day schools throughout the country. We’ve taken a look at some of the best and well-recognized private day schools in the U.S. and listed them below.
Rankings for schools are based on Niche’s 2016 list of Best Private High Schools. These schools were ranked based on students’ average composite SAT and ACT scores, four-year matriculation rate (percentage of students who continue on to a four-year college), and student-to-teacher ratio.
Phillips Academy offers both private day school as well as boarding school options for students in grades 9 through 12. It is a coed school with 1,131 students and an almost exactly even number of boys and girls.
Phillips Academy offers over 300 different courses over three semesters. Available classes are in many different areas of study: art, classical studies, English, history and social science, interdisciplinary studies, mathematics, music, biology, chemistry, environmental science, physics, philosophy and religious studies, psychology, theatre and dance, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Spanish.
Because participation in athletics is required for all students at Phillips Academy, there are many different options for students to choose from. A few options include: basketball, soccer, frisbee, tennis, yoga, spinning, dance, or scaling. There are also many clubs for students to be involved in.
Phillips Exeter Academy
Phillips Exeter Academy offers both private day school as well as boarding school for students. One in five students at Exeter Academy is a day student and are considered part of the life of the Academy, just as boarding students are. Depending on grade, day students are on campus from around 7:30 am to between 8 and 10 pm.
Exeter offers students more than 400 courses across 18 subject areas. Each classroom includes a “harkness table” – a long, round oval table that fits 12 students and a teacher. At Exeter, students are expected to collaborate with one another and come prepared to share, discuss, and discover whatever topic they may be learning about.
Students at Exeter are involved with more than just academics and have the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports including: basketball, tennis, golf, lacrosse, volleyball, water polo, baseball, softball, and cycling to name a few.
Stanford Online High School
Stanford Online High School is an independent, online private school for grades 7-12. Students are placed in courses by ability and skill, not age or grade level. Stanford OHS offers flexible enrollment to students as full-time, part-time, or single course enrollment. A total of 800 students attend Stanford OHS with about half being full-time students.
Stanford OHS academics include a core curriculum that covers human nature, science, science history, political theory, and philosophy. In addition to the core curriculum, students can take classes in English, humanities, history, ancient and modern languages, mathematics, and computer science. Classes are held as seminars and meet twice a week for 75 minutes, with a few exceptions. Students are expected to commit a significant amount of time to their courses and studying.
Students at Stanford OHS are engaged in many of the student-led clubs, meetups, travel opportunities, and other virtual and in-person events throughout the year.
The Lawrenceville School
Like previous listed schools, the Lawrenceville School is both a private day school and boarding school for grades 9-12. Currently 817 students attend Lawrenceville, 256 of those being private day students.
There are many different courses and classes for students to take at the Lawrenceville School. Academic departments include: English, history, interdisciplinary studies, language, mathematics, music, performing arts, religion and philosophy, science, and visual arts. The average class size at Lawrenceville is 12 students.
Students at Lawrenceville participate in track, squash, golf, tennis, swimming, baseball, lacrosse, softball and more. Students can also be involved in many different clubs. Club categories include: community service, games, current events, politics, business, cultural, environment, agriculture, publications, communications, current events, the arts, and religion.
Harvard-Westlake School is an independent private college preparatory day school for students in grades 7-12. Currently, 1,595 boys and girls attend Harvard-Westlake on two different campuses.
The school’s curriculum is based on a core of requirements in English, mathematics, history, science, foreign language, and the arts. In addition to core classes, students have the opportunity to take additional classes from a wide variety of subjects. Students at Harvard-Westlake receive a more personal education experience with an average class size of 16 students.
About 60% of all students participate in some sort of athletic program at Harvard-Westlake. Twenty-seven different athletic programs are offered for students to participate in each year. Students can also participate in student government and several student led groups and clubs.
Groton School is an independent school for both day students and boarding students grades 8-12. Fifteen percent of students are day students. Groton is a smaller school, with only 380 students; those attending Groton receive an exceptional education and personal attention.
Groton offers many different courses to students, and unlike many other private schools, allows students to study two different languages, or take six courses. The curriculum at Groton aims to prepare students for “lives of character, learning, leadership, and service.” The average class size at Groton is 12 students.
Groton prides itself on its family-like community, the close student-faculty relationships, and the enduring lifelong friendships that form on the beautiful Groton Circle.
Students at Groton have many opportunities to be involved and make friends with classmates. Students can participate in the theater, musical ensembles, and many different sports, including cross country, field hockey, football, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, squash, baseball, crew, lacrosse, and tennis. Many different clubs and student organizations are available, and students can start their own clubs. From film club, to outdoor club, there is something for every student at Groton.
Choate Rosemary Hall
Choate Rosemary Hall offers exceptional curriculum to students in 9th grade to postgraduate. Over 800 students attend Choate and help to create a close-knit community where students are encouraged to collaborate and pursue their goals and interests.
Choate offers more than 300 courses, with an average class size of 12 students. The campus features academic centers for studies in humanities, sciences, environmental science, languages, mathematics and computer science, and the arts.
Students have many opportunities to participate in athletics, the arts, community service, and clubs. Choate has 81 interscholastic teams in over 30 different sports, as well as intramural and dorm teams. There are also over 100 different clubs and affinity groups. Weekend activities engage students on campus, in the town of Wallingford, and throughout the northeast.
The Hotchkiss School
Hotchkiss School is an independent private day and boarding school for students attending grades 9-12. Approximately 600 hundred students attend Hotchkiss; 93% of which are boarding students, and 7% day students.
Like most private day schools, Hotchkiss offers small class sizes for students to receive a more personal education. The average class size at Hotchkiss is 12 students. Classes at Hotchkiss include studies in classical and modern languages, English, humanities and social sciences, mathematics and computer, science, visual and performing arts, interdisciplinary courses, human development and other electives.
Hotchkiss provides students with many opportunities to participate in athletics and clubs. There are 19 interscholastic sports and 64 clubs, community service organizations, music ensembles, and student publications.
The Cranbrook Schools offer private education for students in Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School (grades K-12 ). Last year, 1,659 students attended Cranbrook Schools. Middle School students at Cranbrook are divided into single gender classes to encourage greater participation from all students, and to avoid added pressure of interacting with members of the opposite sex.
The curriculum at Cranbrook focuses on strong academics and a balance of fine arts, in a liberal arts education. As a college preparatory school, Cranbrook offers a broad selection of courses to students. Students are expected to carry five academic courses each semester from at least four different departments. Courses are offered in English, mathematics, foreign language, science, history, social science, religion, humanities, and the arts.
Cranbrook offers students the opportunity to be involved in several different sports. Students can participate in baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, golf, rowing, field hockey, cross country, football, figure skating, skiing, swimming, and track. Students can also participate in many different art programs such as printmaking, drawing, metalsmithing, weaving, symphony and jazz bands, choral groups, stagecraft, acting, dance, sculpture, and ceramics.
Flintridge Preparatory School
Flintridge Preparatory School is a coed, nonsectarian day school with a middle school for grades 7-8 and high school for grades 9-12. Approximately 100 students attend Flintridge middle school, and 400 hundred students attend high school.
Flintridge focuses on creating a curriculum that prepares students for the demands of college, and for the fullness of a well-lived life. Courses are offered in English, history, mathematics, performing arts, physical education, science, visual arts, and world languages. Students at Flintridge often surpass all minimum requirement for admission to the University of California, as well as other colleges and universities as they receive personalized education. Flintridge average class size is 15 students.
Students at Flintridge are involved in many different athletic programs, clubs, and organizations. There are more than 30 teams in 13 sports: cross country, football, flag football, tennis, volleyball and water polo in the fall; basketball, soccer and water polo in the winter; baseball, golf, softball, diving, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and water polo in the spring; and offer equestrian, cheer, and dance all year round.