It happened twice this week. At the bank, I was asked about CAIS and the manager expressed shock about one of the differences between CAIS schools and other private schools. And then in an article in the Toronto Star, I read about the call for private schools to be more regulated. Again, I was reminded that the general public does not realize that there are some real myths about private schools that need to be clarified. So it got me thinking – what are the biggest secrets about private schools? At the moment, I can think of four.
Secret #1 – CAIS schools are not for profit
I think people make an assumption about this one. Maybe it is because the school facilities are incredibly beautiful or maybe it is because some of the alumni become famous or maybe it is because the students are perceived to be from wealthy families. But the fact is, our schools are run as Not for Profits and therefore have governing boards who work incredibly hard to ensure that all of the tuition money goes back to benefit the schools. As an accrediting organization, CAIS is willing to accredit a share capital school, but currently there are no for profit schools in Canada that are CAIS accredited. Parents should know the difference.
Secret #2 – All private schools are not equal
This one drives me nuts. Parents must do their homework on schools to fully understand that private schools should be defined by more than their academic and co-curricular programs. For starters, families should spend time at the school to determine the culture and get to know the students and staff. I believe that culture is everything (and you can register for a Faculty Culture module at our CAIS Summer Leadership Institute here.) But here’s the thing – parents must realize that it is the leadership and finances that define the long-term strength of a school. So how do you find this out? I am biased, but there is only one way for parents to determine the best schools in Canada – verify if the school is CAIS accredited by researching the list of accredited schools in Canada here.
Secret #3 – CAIS students outperform others at university
I hope this is the assumption of most, but no one other than CAIS has the actual data that tracks university success. CAIS did an eight year study that tracked CAIS students in university and the results from over 60,000 marks should be known by everyone searching for a school. From our research, we learned the following: CAIS students consistently receive A and B grades in almost three quarters of the courses they take (73%), and CAIS students outperform the class averages in their university courses (where this data is available) in every subject area. What I like best about CAIS schools is this – they complete this research so that they can improve their programs, not so that they can market the findings. The humility of CAIS schools is remarkable.
Secret #4 – CAIS schools are more affordable than you think
This is one of the boarding school myths that we “busted,” but this secret applies to all CAIS schools because CAIS schools offer generous amounts of financial assistance to families across Canada every year. Parents should research the bursaries and scholarships available in CAIS schools here, and they should not be shy about asking about the process. For example, in 2013-2014, 6411 students attending 84 of our CAIS schools received financial aid totaling $59.3 million. That’s quite the secret.
I know that the CAIS community knows this stuff. I just wish everyone else did too.