Breaking Stereotypes: What Every Private School Girl Is Tired Of Hearing

“Why would your parents spend thousands of dollars on private school?”, or “If you go to a private school, you must be rich, right?”,  or my personal favorite, Do you think you’re better or different than everyone because you went to a private school?”

These are phrases I have heard far too often in my life. Since I was three years old, my parents have put me in Catholic, private school. Even today, I attend a private university, which was ultimately my choice when deciding where to attend college. And for the record, I do not wear my kilt any more.

It frustrates me when people automatically assume I’m rich because I attend private school. It frustrates me when people tell me that my parents are wasting their money. It frustrates me that people assume that I think I am ultimately better and more privileged than them because of where I went to school.  

I am not rich, even in the slightest. I come from a middle class family, where both my parents have worked hard all their lives. My mom came from a family where both her parents emigrated from Italy so they could have a better life and give their family a life they never had. My mom did not have much growing up, and therefore worked her entire way through college. My dad was in the same boat as my mom. He would commute almost two hours from lower Manhattan to Queens and then commute back so he could work to pay for his education by himself. After my parents met and tied the knot, they worked full-time jobs so my younger brother and I could receive the best possible education. I often remember crying when I was little as I watched all my friends getting picked up by their moms while mine was working. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized how different it had been for them growing up and how they did not want the same thing that happened to them, to happen to me.

While there are those who come from well-off families and also attend private school, you will be surprised how many who are not as affluent like myself. I have never thought for a moment that because my parents put their hard-earned money toward my brother and I, that I am above someone else who may attend a public school or even be homeschooled.

I became viewed as a rich, privileged girl in a uniform who is just given whatever she wants by her parents and does not work for a single thing. I work in the summer, often balancing a coaching job or two, along with babysitting to earn money of my own to try to pay for as much as I can. My parents pay for whatever they can for me because they want me to receive the best education possible and to focus on that until I am able to land a full-time job post-graduation. Because of how hard they worked and saved throughout their own lives, they have given me a life that I am beyond thankful for.

I cannot tell you how many times growing up, an adult or another person my age has asked me where I go to school. When I reply, I immediately see how their view of me changes in an instant while they say, Oh, okay.” Or, perhaps when I would go places like the grocery store or mall after school, I would receive constant stares because I was wearing a uniform. And because I was wearing a uniform, others my age would start to point and whisper about me. You can imagine how this would make me feel.

I also attended an all girls, Catholic high school. When I would tell people where I went, they looked at me with a sorry expression and would say, “That must have been so hard for you” or “So, do you know any boys, or even how to talk to them? You probably don’t know any, right?” I often would laugh hearing this because my time at my high school was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Yes, my high school challenged me academically, so it was hard at times in that sense. I never felt like I missed out on anything. I still attended football games at the all boys school down the street, I had homecomings and proms, and still had just as fun on my spirit days as any other student would. And yes, I know boys and how to talk to them! (Spoiler: I have had a boyfriend since sophomore year of high school.) I had an actual life outside of my of all girls school world and everyone else at my school did as well.

I hope that by writing this, many of you who may have had negative connotations regarding those who are or have attended a private school, think twice before assuming that every person is “rich” and believes they are better or different than you. The next time someone tells you they attended a private school, or are seen wearing a uniform, that you are careful not to make judgments so quickly about them. As the saying goes: don’t judge a book by its cover.

Featured image via 周 康 on Pexels


  1. Hate to burst your bubble: YOU WERE FUNDAMENTALLY RICH.

    Most families wouldn’t be able to make that choice, even if they sacrificed everything for tuition, even small expenses like cable or coffee (and I don’t mean Starbucks, but committing to drinking only water because even making coffee at home is a luxury). For some of us, being stuck in a public school is a life sentence. Not only is the poor education a trap, but many of us are getting harassed, beaten, or even sexually assaulted on a regular basis in those schools, with no help from staff or police. If all it took was a couple of sacrifices, you think our parents wouldn’t have done so to get us to safety? To use a personal example, do you think my mother left me there because she enjoyed my suicide attempts? My story is not unique; I hear it all the time in support groups and treatment, and discussed by poverty, feminist and racial advocates. We’re not there by choice.

    You bring up your parents having full-time jobs, like that makes them special. Guess what? Most parents (and census details show this) work either full-time or equivalent to full-time, through a mishmash of multiple jobs. YOUR PARENTS DIDN’T WORK HARDER THAN OURS. Many families have multiple adults (sometimes more than just two parents) working to keep a roof over everyone’s head. You actually have no idea how privileged you are just that there were two parents who could work. You have no idea how privileged you are that your parents had jobs and lived in an area with a cost of living that allowed for that. Entire families can work and still use the food bank.

    You weren’t the only one who worked summers, after school and/or babysat. However, many had to in order to keep their families afloat. Many had to take on some of their expenses to ensure they were fulfilled. Just the fact that you think you’re special for having done so, or that it entitled you more to your life than anyone else who also did so shows how entitled you are.

    You went to college. I did, too, but could never afford a private college. I actually couldn’t afford college and have severely hampered my life with consequences, particularly debt. I was simply so determined to use my brain, seeing as how I tested as near-genius but public school didn’t give me any enrichment classes or real opportunity for intellectual growth. Know a lot of people who also couldn’t get the remedial help they needed. Must have been nice to get an education at exactly the level appropriate for you. It has been years since this article: did you go to graduate school? Post-grad? I sure didn’t. That crushing debt thing, you know. Not that my mother hadn’t wished I could let my capability decide where I go.

    Though, it didn’t for her, either. She was also very intelligent, and had two working parents, but they couldn’t afford college for her, and she struggled to just pay her bills. She didn’t get her associate’s degree until her 30s, and she worked two jobs herself and cared for her family. However, community college is cheaper than private school.

    You may not see yourself as rich, not as “one of them.” Maybe you aren’t. But you sure ain’t one of us, no matter how much you like to tell yourself that. The fact that you would even try to argue that you were not privileged shows how entitled you are – like the rich girls. It sure doesn’t sound like private school is why people are thinking you’re like that, only an understandable cause when they finally hear it.

    But, for me, one of the real kickers is that I was raised in Catholic education, too (in some areas, there is a Catholic public school board that offers the same education, with the addition of religious education). I cannot believe you went through the catechism and feel no responsibility from your position or compassion for the poor… And don’t claim you do, because you wouldn’t be as judgmental as you are above if you had any feeling for us (yes, unsurprisingly, I am still poor). By the way, I have yet to see a camel go through the eye of a needle; what are you thinking of your chances? Well, all things are possible…


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