The High Cost of Education in the Early Years

Many of us know all too well the high price we pay for higher learning. Some of us have been left with student loans to pay off or are still paying them off.

Growing up, I was led to believe that good grades would get me into a good school, which in turn would provide me with a good education, thus landing me a good job.

I now know different.

We all know it’s nothing like when our parents were first entering the work force. My parents came from another country in the 1970s with foreign education and experience. They were able to get decent jobs, buy cheap houses, and  they are retired and now currently living off their pension.  They truly are enjoying their “Golden Years”.

paying for private school

The Price of Learning

While I did receive a good education and good experience because I enrolled into my school’s work/study program, I believe that nowadays, the education/experience only takes you so far. In my opinion, it’s a very expensive piece of paper that sometimes will only get you an interview and nothing more. Sometimes even having several pieces of expensive papers won’t get you much further. Perhaps only further in debt.

Forgive my cynicism. It’s just that when it comes to education, especially higher learning, I am appalled at the price we have to pay for it.  Especially when it comes to textbooks. Why  must I pay almost $200 (perhaps $140 if I got it used) for a book that I will only use for one semester and will only have to read 50 of the 250 pages in it? I decided to keep some of my textbooks in case I ever need to use them for reference in the home office, which I haven’t had the chance to, thus far. They just sit there and the titles on their spines remind me of how I was able to cram all that knowledge (now mostly forgotten) in one semester.

The Cost of Private Education

What I am even more appalled is the price of private education.  Living in a greatly affluent town, there are quite a number of private schools available, if one was to take interest in “enriching” their child’s education.  I only say I am appalled because I unfortunately don’t have an excess of $30,000-$50,000 (sometimes more) to spend for a child (PER YEAR!) to attend private school or boarding school. Even if I did, I highly doubt I would want to invest so much in their early years of education. I would most likely want to put it towards their university education.

Is the Quality of Education Better at Private School?

Grade school and high school education is free, so who wouldn’t want to take advantage of that? Private schools seem to emphasize the quality of education, extracurricular activities and leadership programs.  I think they are trying to give the impression to parents that their children will be more successful in life and will have a better chance of attending a good university. In my personal opinion, I don’t believe that the quality of education is that much better, nor do I believe that people will be more successful in life mainly because of a certain school they went to or that they will get into a good university because they went to private school.  Grades matter more in the latter case.

It really all depends on the person and other factors such as work ethic, intelligence, luck, opportunity, passion and drive.

The “Why” Behind Private Schooling

Perhaps children attend private school because their parents did. Or they believe the environment is safer and has more children coming from the same financial background. Perhaps this is where one can start networking early on with the sons and daughters of people in power.  Since private school is associated with uniforms, maybe wearing a private school uniform is considered a status symbol. I wonder if the richest people went to private school.

Ironically enough, in Catholic high schools, wearing a uniform is also mandatory. Minus the blazers and ties, it is quite similar to the private school uniform.  As much as I hated wearing the school uniform, it eliminated the dilemma of trying to figure out what to wear every day. Everyone looked the same for the most part, thus nobody got made fun of for their clothes. Uniforms seem to have created a level playing field for students of different cultural and financial backgrounds.


I don’t know any one personally who did attend private school, so I can’t share any of their experiences with you. However, I do know several people who went to grade school and high school for free (like myself), and  have graduated from good schools and have done great things with their life.

What are your thoughts on private school? If you had the money, would you enroll your kids in private school?

25 thoughts on “The High Cost of Education in the Early Years

  1. No way, the public schools would have to be dire for me to do that, and I plan for us to buy a house in an area with at least passable local schools. All schools here have uniforms, though – primary school is the only time kids can wear what they want to school.

    • When I first started elementary school we had uniforms, then eventually they got phased out and we wore regular clothing. All Catholic high schools though had to wear uniforms in the area where I grew up in. That was how we were distinguished from the public high schools, because they didn’t have uniforms.

  2. I think it would all depend on the situation. I know more than one person who went to private schools because they had learning disabilities, like dyslexia, and were offered a lot more support. Where I live currently, lots of people choose the (not terribly expensive) private school because of their approach to education and the diversity of subjects they offer. For example, they teach three foreign languages to all the students, and do academics in the morning and sports in the afternoon. They also have teachers who care more than some of those in the public high school. The last group of people I know who go to private schools go to religious based schools, as there is no public funding of religious education in BC.

    • Only French, Spanish and Italian were offered at my high school. I think it would have been cool to have the option to take other languages as well. I personally thought my high school offered quite the variety of subjects. I wanted to take more than one semester could handle. Maybe I was just too interested in too many different things. Oddly enough, as much as I enjoy blogging and personal finance now, I had no desire to take any accounting or business courses back then.

  3. I don’t have any issues with kids attending private school. Many do for faith based reasons, including my own. But I think you are right in asserting that it’s unwise to assume the education is automatically superior and will lead to better opportunities. Every school is different. Some private schools I would definitely not want my kids in because the standards are just not there.

    • I think if you claim to be a private school, there should be some sort of private school standards to justify spending a large amount or any amount of money for that matter.

  4. If public schools weren’t such a mess I would agree with you but all you have to do is look at the decline of government education and compare it to the graduation rate for private schooled kids. The classes are smaller, there is no red tape, and my kids don’t have to be indoctrinated to believe a secular world view not be subjected to sex education in kindergarten.

    There are affordable private schools out there. We pay 6k a year and there is value in what we are paying extra for. Just one man’s opinion. 🙂

    • That is definitely more affordable than the private schools in my area. As long as you feel it money well spent and your kids are getting a more enriched education, then that’s all that matters. I personally wouldn’t myself though if I had kids.

      • We couldn’t afford the other private schools in this area either, so at first I homeschooled my oldest son in kindergarten. Then a new private school opened up that based tuition on income in order to make a private school education more affordable for anyone.

        It worked out perfectly because the lady who started the school was my wife’s teacher at one of the local private schools here. She is awesome for seeing the need and following through.

        My kids are 7, 4, and 2 and already balding so I don’t know how much homeschooling I could have handled. LOL I can’t hang with some of the super moms out there that seem to pull it off with ease.

        I definitely agree that education costs are out of control across the board! It’s really quite ridiculous and there doesn’t seem to be any indication of it reversing anytime soon.

        We chose private school because we wanted our kids to have a Christian-based education. The schools in my area are actually not that bad compared to most public schools, but we also like the smaller class size and one-on-one time our child gets as a result. 🙂

  5. My wife and I have been looking at private schools, because the public ones in our area aren’t so great. But I think school, at all ages is a learning experience beyond just knowledge. And I definitely agree that sometimes a college education is sometimes nothing more than a piece of paper. Some in my family have gone to private school and I know they received a great education, but they also paid a great price.

  6. I think some private schools are too overrated. I’m planning to send all my future children to public schools because I’m optimistic that the public school system can still improve in the coming years.

    • I agree. I think the quality of school depends on what area you live in. My sister is a teacher and has worked in a high school with students from lower income families and now works at a high school with students from higher income families. However that’s not to say the former schools have lesser quality education though.

  7. I went to private school. The only way my parents could afford it was because I was awarded with a scholarship that paid for most of the tuition. I feel as though I received an excellent education but when I look at the school now, I doubt that I would send my child as the price per year has since tripled since I went there. $30K for private school is equally absurd to me as well.

    • That would be the only way I would get into a private school as well, through a scholarship. I think because we lived so close to an elementary school and high school (both within walking distance), it made more sense for my sister and I to attend those schools.

  8. Our thoughts on private school are that we don’t want to pay for it! That’s why we have our eyes on a town with an excellent school system. The property taxes are higher, but no where close to what we would pay for a private school. We just have one child now, but hope to have another — so, the cost of paying the higher taxes for the next 30 years don’t even come close to being as much as we would pay for private school for two kids for 12 years.

    • It’s probably because I don’t have kids, but I never really thought about choosing a place to live based on the quality of the school system. It definitely makes sense though.

  9. As a public school teacher, if I had children they would go to public school. I’m sure there are plenty of good reasons to send children to private schools (maybe for networking reasons), but parents need to do their homework. Not all private schools offer a better education than the public school system. In fact, there are plenty of “private” schools that are sub-par. Their curriculum doesn’t match the state or national standards, but isn’t reflected in their reputation because they don’t take state tests that offer a comparison to a local district. I’d tell parents to look closely at the pros and cons through an objective lense.

  10. I think it would depend on where I lived and if I had the money. Some areas, like LA, have kind of crappy school systems and the ones that don’t are expensive areas to live. I think public schools for the most part are fine though. I’d sacrifice some of my own wants and needs if I had kids to make sure we lived in an area with a decent school system though. Of course that’s easy for me to say. 🙂

    • Even if I had the money, I’m not sure I would send them to private school. I feel like the money could be spent in other areas or put toward their university education, if they wanted to go to the U.S. or study abroad when they’re older.

  11. I was very surprised to learn how expensive the local private junior high school is. Tuition is $34k/year! That’s more expensive than the local state college tuition. I don’t care if other people want to spend that much on their kids. That’s their choice.

    Our 12 year old son goes to a parent participation charter school that costs us $300/year. We donate more than double that, anyway. Of course we do have to spend some time at the school helping out, as well, but we would probably want to do that even if they didn’t have a requirement.

  12. $300/year sounds so much better compared to $34k/year. 🙂 That’s awesome you both enjoy helping out at your son’s school. My parents never participated with school related things.

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