8 Benefits of an Independent School Education

8 Benefits of an Independent School Education

By Dr. Nancy Athanasiou

It’s a common question that we get often: Why should I send my child to an independent school? We love when parents ask us that, because it gives us a chance to tell them about the many wonderful benefits of an independent school education. We realize that it is a significant investment, but we strongly believe it is a worthwhile one that pays dividends long after a student graduates.    

1. Freedom to innovate

Independent schools are governed by a volunteer board of trustees, not a publicly elected school board. Independent schools are primarily supported by tuition payments, charitable contributions, and endowment revenue. This means they are not beholden to the same state mandates as public schools, and can be more nimble and flexible. Independent school teachers have the freedom to create educational experiences that meet each child’s needs, resulting in a much more tailored curriculum.

2. Mission focused

Whether co-ed, single sex, day school, or boarding school, each independent school is driven by its own unique philosophy, values, and approach to teaching. No matter what is happening in the broader world, the school will (or at least should) stay true to its mission. The wide range of organizational missions amongst independent schools allows you to find a school that is a great fit for your student.

3. High academic standards 

Independent schools nurture intellectual curiosity, stimulate personal growth, encourage critical thinking, and promote a lifelong love of learning. More students in independent schools enroll in advanced courses than in public, parochial, and other private schools. In addition, because independent schools are not limited by the same rules and regulations as public schools, they are better able to pivot and adapt their curriculum quickly to benefit their students. 

4. Small classes

Low student-teacher ratios encourage close connections between instructors and students. During the 2023–24 school year, the median ratio at University School of Milwaukee is 10 students to each teacher. Many independent schools like USM also have additional on-site educational resources such as tutors and counselors, who provide further support as needed.

5. Excellent teachers

Independent school faculty usually teach in their areas of expertise, and are not required to have the same licensures and certifications as public school teachers. That means that independent school teachers are often experts in their fields with deep subject-matter knowledge in what they’re teaching, and a true passion for education. Many independent schools also provide ample resources and opportunities for their teachers to pursue professional development opportunities.

6. Education for the whole child 

In addition to academics, independent schools also nurture students’ personal and social growth and civic conscience. Outside the classroom, students participate in school-sponsored athletic competitions, artistic pursuits, and leadership experiences. USM, for example, has a no-cut athletics policy that encourages students to try new experiences and take risks in a supportive environment outside the classroom.

7. Inclusiveness 

Independent schools can “cast a wider net” with their student body. At USM, for example, we have students from nearly 60 different zip codes, making our school quite diverse. Requiring prospective students to fill out an application helps an independent school—and the applicants—determine if they will be successful. At USM, we want to ensure accepted students will be valued community members who, along with their families, abide by our values-based education. 

8. Active parent community 

Independent schools promote regular communication among students, parents, and teachers to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals. As a parent, you can actively engage in your student’s education, because the staff and teachers want and value your participation.

Ultimately, it’s up to the families to decide which school will be the best fit for them. We encourage you to see for yourself the many benefits of a USM education, and schedule your visit today. 

About Dr. Nancy Athanasiou

Nancy is the associate director of Enrollment Management and admission coordinator, 8th-12th grades. She earned her doctorate in leadership for the advancement of learning and service, her master’s in educational computing from Cardinal Stritch University, and her bachelor’s in elementary education from Alverno College. She enjoys building and maintaining relationships with students and families and values the opportunity to assist during key transitions (making the move from middle to high school, entering a new school, or both).

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