The Right Private School for Your Kid
The Roxbury Latin School (boys)
Crimson tide: In the center of Roxbury Latin’s verdant main quad stands a statue of a colonial soldier wearing a tricorn, an overcoat, and buckled shoes. In one hand he holds a sword; in the other, a rolled-up piece of paper. It’s probably an acceptance letter from Harvard. Founded in 1645, RL (as it’s called by those in the know) has served as a pipeline to America’s oldest college since its inception. And if today’s graduates face a little more competition, the school continues to get a higher percentage into the Ivy League than almost any other school in the country.
Save now, pay later: Thanks to an estimated $144 million endowment, Roxbury Latin is able to keep tuition at a reasonable $17,000 a year, or less than two-thirds of what the school lists as the real annual cost of educating each of its students. Parents with money left over after paying that bill would do well to consider sticking it in a high-performing mutual fund: When the fat envelope from Harvard arrives, their payments will more than double. School stats: Boys only; grades 7–12; day tuition: $17,000; 101 St. Theresa Ave., West Roxbury, 617-325-4920, www.roxburylatin.org.
The Winsor School (girls)
Petite in size, ginormous in stature: Winsor may be the only local prep school with signs in the main lobby requesting you leave your car keys with the receptionist, in case she has to move it. Tucked between Beth Israel hospital and Wheelock College, the Boston school makes up for its small size with some serious resources—including 50 student clubs, 14 varsity sports, and an art gallery and exhibition hall for student work—and an unmatched track record when it comes to college admissions. Over the past five years Winsor has sent 27 young women to Harvard; overall, more than one of every three alumnae go on to the Ivy League. Considering the lofty positions Winsor’s students are destined to occupy, it only makes sense that the school offers valet parking. School stats: Girls only; grades 5–12; day tuition: $27,800; 103 Pilgrim Rd., Boston, 617-735-9500, www.winsor.edu.
SECOND HONORS: Groton School: According to one educational consultant, it runs neck and neck with Roxbury Latin in percentage of students admitted to Ivy League colleges. Phillips Academy, Andover: Because, well, it’s Andover.
Dana Hall School
Popular perception: The kids on The OC have the Bait Shack. The young women of Dana Hall have Truly Yogurt in Wellesley Center, and on any given school day you’ll find a gaggle of them standing outside, chatting on their cell phones and filling in the rare gaps in their social calendars. “They’re the fun ones, the ones you go out with,” says an alum of a local all-boys school. “Assuming they’re not grounded.” Putting the “Hall” in study hall: Just because its students take hanging out so seriously doesn’t mean Dana Hall is a slouch academically. Founded in 1881 to prepare girls to attend Wellesley College, the school expects students to carry a rigorous course load—and, in return, consistently gets its seniors into prestigious colleges.
Diversionary tactics: With a riding stable and a new adventure outing club among its many amenities, Dana Hall offers students no shortage of outlets for bonding. They find their own ways to stay entertained in their free time. “They’re always out, going to concerts or movies and trying to find stuff to do,” says our source. “These girls have to be creative. Truly Yogurt is only open till 10.” School stats: Girls only; grades 6–12; day / boarding tuition: $29,820 / $39,405; 45 Dana Rd., Wellesley, 781-235-3010, www.danahall.org.
SECOND HONORS: The Rivers School: “They talk to kids at all the other schools around Boston,” says one local senior of the gregarious students at Rivers, which has only been coed since 1989.
Boston University Academy
And they get to play with frickin’ lasers: Blink as you’re traveling down Commonwealth Avenue and you might miss the car battery–shaped building that houses BU Academy. But for students, the real advantages of going to high school here extend well beyond its walls: A spot comes with unfettered access to big sister Boston University, which has all the cutting-edge lab space and teaching tools you’d expect to find at the country’s fourth-largest private university. Those include BU’s state-of-the-art Photonics Center, where unabashed eggheads can learn about bioorganic chemistry, blue-light lasers, and other complicated scientific stuff that makes dissecting frogs seem, like, totally elementary.
Programmed for success: BU Academy offers five computer-based courses, from the basics to more-advanced classes, and fields a badass robotics team that has placed near the top in several national competitions. The school also gives each student file-server storage space and an account on BU’s academic computing system, which proves handy for updating MySpace pages but also for doing C++ programming homework.
Senior skip year: Academy upperclassmen can take as many as 12 BU courses, with the option of applying to enter the university as sophomores when they graduate. Seniors also get to sign up for BU intramurals, where they gain more invaluable exposure to the cutthroat college world by playing ice broomball and coed Wiffle ball. School stats: Coed; grades 9–12; day tuition: $23,597; One University Rd., Boston, 617-353-9000, www.buacademy.org.
SECOND HONORS: Tabor Academy: Located on Buzzards Bay, Tabor offers unique programs in marine science and celestial navigation. Pingree School: Its South Hamilton campus is equipped with three computer labs; the school also has stalwart science bowl squads.