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Public vs Private Schools
Q: My son has a 95 average, is in most honor classes, and does two school sports along with other clubs. He's been given the opportunity to go to a well-known and extremely challenging school in New York. Will colleges look at him more favorably if he goes there?
A: I strongly believe that it's about what you do, not where you go. If your son is outstanding, then he will be outstanding at this school, or at the public school down the street. Parents and students often focus so much on the getting-into-college game that they lose sight of some of the larger life lessons that the best students learn. For instance, what it's like to work at a homeless shelter or counsel younger students at a camp for underprivileged kids. I believe that what a student does outside of school is extremely important. No matter where your son goes to school, I would encourage him to develop empathy for others, a sense of contribution to the world through his service work, and an ability to help fellow students who don't have the advantages he has had. These things count for a great deal in the college-admissions process, in the employment process, and in life in general.
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Carol Carter is the author of many books on college and career planning. She is the cofounder of Lifeskills, Inc., a nonprofit organization that encourages high-school students to explore their goals, career options, and the real world through part-time work and internships. She also gives workshops around the country on career exploration and other issues directly related to helping students succeed in college, career, and life.