The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Preparatory school

In the United States a preparatory school, or prep school, is usually a private secondary school (or high school) designed to prepare a student for higher education. In the United Kingdom and some parts of the Commonwealth of Nations, a Preparatory School, or Prep. School is a private school, designed to prepare a student for fee paying Public Schools. The age range catered for may be only eight- to thirteen-year-olds, or it may include younger pupils as well. A private school which only caters for under eights is a "pre-prep" and the junior departments of prep schools which cover the first years of schooling are also called "pre-prep".

Both forms have some things in common. Many are boarding schools; often, such schools are highly selective and academically challenging; they are largely independent of state or local authority control. Such schools are usually expensive, with high tuition used to pay excellent teachers and provide enriched learning environments, through features such as large libraries, advanced science laboratories, and new computers. British and New England preparatory schools, in particular, place a strong emphasis on sports.

In the United States, college preparatory schools often place an emphasis on offering a wide variety of Advanced Placement courses, rigorous academic programs, and small class sizes of 20 or less. Admission is rigorously selective and often based on standardized college entrance exams like the SAT.

The preparation for college that such courses provide, the higher-than-average SAT scores, and other attributes of their students lead many colleges and universities to actively recruit prep school students. In the United States, preparatory education is also often associated with the Preppy subculture.

Because they pay well (and/or offer superior working conditions), American college preparatory schools are often able to recruit faculty and staff with graduate degrees from the top universities, particularly the Ivy League. In contrast, most teachers at public schools usually hold only a bachelor's degree (which may not even be in the field that they teach) and a teaching certificate.


Partial list of international preparatory schools

Schule Schloss Salem (Salem, Germany)
Institut Alpin Videmanette (Rougemont, Switzerland )
Institute Le Rosey (Rolle, Switzerland )

Partial list of notable U.S. preparatory schools

The following is a partial list of preparatory schools in the United States:

Partial list of British Preparatory Schools

Partial list of Canadian preparatory schools

In France, some high schools offer special postgraduate classes, equivalent in level to the first years of university, for students who wish to enter Grandes Écoles.

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