Public or Private: Examining the Significance of High School Affiliation

by The Cowl Editor on November 1, 2018


Photo of road signs with a sign that says "public school" pointing left and "private school" pointing right.
Photo courtesy of The Collegian

by Julia McCoy ’22

Opinion Staff


High school is only four years, right? Sure, in terms of how long you attend the school, high school only lasts four years. However, certain lessons learned in high school can impact your college years as well.

Providence College, being a Dominican institution, attracts many students from Catholic and private schools from around the country. However, it also appeals to many students from public schools. Therefore, one may ask, is it possible for these two types of schools to prepare students for college in different ways?

In short, the answer to that question is, absolutely. Private and public high schools advertise their own respective advantages that are meant to attract students to attend their school.

For students planning to attend a religiously affiliated college such as PC, Catholic and private high schools emphasize their religion classes and the importance of using that education to prepare you for theology requirements in college.

Students certainly enjoy having some foundation in theology when they are asked within the first weeks of school to read the Bible in their Development of Western Civilization (DWC) classes.

When asked about the benefits of a religious  high school education, Kristen Moran ’22 said, “Catholic school provided me the opportunity to learn in a supportive environment which helped me grow academically and spiritually as well.”

For this reason, it seems those who attended Catholic high schools often have a smoother transition into a learning environment that fosters the importance of religious teaching within its education.

This is not to say that students who attend public schools are not as involved in their religion as those who attend private high schools; many students choose to attend Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes and other programs at their local churches to receive some of the same teachings that are offered in Catholic high schools.

Students from public high schools are often introduced to a more diverse group of students who came from different religious and ethnic backgrounds.

Meredith Gendreau ’22, a public high school graduate, said, “Public school taught me the importance of learning from people’s differences and not judging books by their covers.”

She, like many others, remained in touch with her religious background while attending public school. Gendreau was a CCD teacher at her local church. It is possible that this combination of public school with private religious schooling provides the best of both worlds.

But how much should something so trivial as where you attended high school really affect your college experience?

Oftentimes, this does not seem to be a monumental issue. There are, however, some instances in which students stick to their high school ways and become more exclusive, looking for those whom they can relate to, rather than finding friends from different backgrounds.

When this issue does arise, it often occurs in the adjusting period of the first year, when students are desperately trying to make friends with anyone who seems remotely similar to them. As a result, those who attended high schools with similar religious affiliations or structures are sometimes drawn to each other.

In an ideal world, all students would drop such silly stereotypes regarding high school and be friends with whomever they choose. And, for the most part, PC fosters that welcoming and open culture.

Despite our few discrepancies, the College  community does a great job of ridding itself of cliques within the first few months of school, when students—especially freshmen—realize that high school is over.