When in pursuit of a quality education, the first place to look is the top. There you will find the best private, public, and specialized schools that your state has to offer. Apart from being labeled ‘the best’, the common thread among these institutions is the availability of great academic opportunities. Your child will reap the benefits of an academic career filled with dedicated teachers, modern learning materials, pre-college courses, and an abundance of extracurricular programs along the way. As you begin to map out your child’s academic future, consider these schools as excellent starting points.

In the past forty years, there have been a number of extraordinary people who have created amazing programs to help underprivileged students enter the best, and often times most expensive, private institutions. Such organizations recognize every child’s potential for academic excellence and every parents need for financial guidance. Below is a detailed explanation of the benefits of a private school education as well as a listing of programs that aim to place gifted minority youth into Independent Schools.

In a private school all doors are open. From practicing Latin after an engaging class reading in English, to eating lunch with a math teacher before a game of basketball, prep schools offer an enriching academic experience from the time the first bell rings to the time the last student heads for home. With smaller classes, teachers can spend more time teaching and less time taking attendance. With better facilities students have access to computers in the class room and healthy lunch options in the cafeteria. Moreover, with a dedicated staff, parents can explore every aspect of their child’s education in detail.

Prep schools can provide the highest standards of education because they have the finances to back their efforts. Similar to the price of a college degree, inclusion in such schools can cost upwards of $20,000 a year. If you are a parent with an annual household income below or slightly above $40,000 you can rightfully define this as an impractical expense. Meeting your family’s basic needs undeniably takes precedence over devoting 50% of your income to school tuition. You shouldn’t have to make such an extreme sacrifice, and surprisingly you don’t have to. Help is available in different ways from various sources.

Everyday New York City kids attend private schools with the help of programs like Prep for Prep and A Better Chance (ABC). In addition to gaining access into some of the most selective Independent Schools, many of these students have gone on to acquiring degrees at the top colleges and universities across the country.

Each program has it own unique approach and structure. Among the wide-range of services offered you might come across the following:

  • The chance to enter into Independent Schools, which allocate spaces in support of students from these programs.
  • Academic Preparation Courses that outline the material and teaching styles used in independent schools.
  • Step by Step guidance through the Private School Admissions process.
    Need-Based Financial aid packages given by the school after successful completion of the application process.
  • Additional Services ranging from tutoring, counseling, career training, and college planning.

More than just a list of services, these not for profit programs are significant because they provide valuable community resources for free. Of course nothing in life is entirely free. In most cases the word free is followed by a catch and in this case the catch is the competition! Given the nature of these programs the number of applicants is often higher than the number of available spaces. This creates a highly competitive process. Prospective students are encouraged to embody the type of drive that will keep them at the top of the talent pool. Furthermore, for those students who are accepted, the post-admission road ahead is far from easy. After months of weekend classes, late night homework sessions, and countless school visits, both parents and students begin to realize the cost of such an opportunity is time rather than money. Without a doubt, this is one of the most challenging academic processes for young people commit to, but all their hard work does pay off in the end.

If your child is not accepted to one of these programs, consider the experience to be a life lesson rather than a deterrent. Learn from it. Utilize that new found knowledge and consider applying to independent schools on your own. Remember, a gifted student will go far with or without special programs. The key is supportive parenting and personal self determination. If needed, you can apply for financial aid, specialized high schools entrance exams, or supplementary educational program ranging from pre-college prep, after-school guidance and support.

The following is a list of Independent School Placement Programs in New York City:

Prep for Prep
163 West 91st Street
New York, NY 10024
(212) 579-1470

The Oliver Program
The School at Columbia University
556 West 110th Street, 3rd Fl.
New York, New York 10025
(212) 851-4223

A Better Chance
240 West 35th Street, 9th Fl.
New York, NY 10001-2506
(800) 562-7865

City Prep
1406 Merriam Avenue
Bronx, NY 10452
(914) 723-5231

New Jersey SEEDS
303-309 Washington Street, 4th Fl.
Newark, NJ 07102

About the Author:
This article is an excerpt of A Better Today Brings a Brighter Tomorrow, (abt.msoyonline.com) a resource guide for African American parents, self-published by LaShanda Henry. Visit lulu.com/msoy to purchase a copy of this book or email lhenry@msoyonline.com for details.
© LaShanda Henry 2005

NOTE: You are welcome to forward or “reprint” this article online as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the “about the author” info at the end and the copyright notice), and you send a copy of your reprint to lhenry@msoyonline.com.


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