Independent Schools Prepare Students for College and Life

By Barbara Kraus-Blackney, Executive Director, Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS)

The Greater Philadelphia region enjoys a strong heritage of independent education and a wealth of educational options. The Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS) recently commissioned a survey to evaluate the region’s educational climate and perceptions about education. More than 80 percent of respondents rated 10 characteristics essential to quality education:

  • Safe environment
  • High-quality teachers
  • Discipline
  • Motivated, enthusiastic students
  • Supportive climate to study, achieve, excel
  • Academic preparation for college
  • Parent participation
  • Prevention of substance abuse
  • Preparation for a global economy
  • Computer/technology enhancement/support

The majority indicated they believe independent schools perform better on all 10 characteristics. Among the specific components cited by those surveyed were small schools/classes; teacher-student ratio; individualized attention; higher-quality teachers/education; structured, more educationally nurturing environment; learning focus; and teaching of discipline, morals and respect. ADVIS agrees.

Small school and class size give students individualized attention, access to extra-curricular clubs and activities, and the opportunity to be known and cared for by the school’s staff. A student is less likely to “fall through the cracks” in an independent school.

Independent schools offer strong academics, solid arts programs, and opportunity for all students to be involved in athletics through non-varsity teams. Participation in a team sport is often required and building character through lessons about the value of teamwork, fair play, discipline and persistence are all emphasized over talent or scores.

Independent schools value diversity and draw students from a range of cultures, races and income groups. We prepare all students academically for college and a career in today’s global, interconnected economy, and also prepare students for a fulfilling and meaningful life. Data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, conducted by the Department of Education, shows that our graduates achieve healthy adult lives, pursuing a more active range of personal fitness and cultural interests than their peers from other schools, and also maintain a lifelong commitment to community/civic service.

ADVIS supports the administration and governance of 133 member independent schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware through professional development, advocacy and collaborative marketing. More than 50,000 students attend ADVIS schools, distinct from private schools in that they are guided by mission, governed by independent boards of trustee, and funded primarily by tuition, contributions and endowment. To learn more and explore resources about independent education and ADVIS member schools, visit

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