Every year at this time, independent schools consider tuition options for the coming year. Budgets are prepared, re-enrollment documents are mailed home, and families consider the question: Is the tuition investment worth it? This is a vitally important question to ask and to have answered. As you read through the economic conundrum that follows, I think you will come to the same conclusion I have reached. Now more than ever, the tuition investment in your child’s education at The Walker School is worth it.
Consider this confounding question posed in Paul Tough’s book How Children Succeed: “Why are so many American students dropping out of college just as a college degree has become so valuable and just as young people in the rest of the world have begun to graduate in remarkable numbers?” American high school students do not have a problem with college access but with college completion. The United States is one of 34 democracies that comprise the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD – click for a list of member countries). The USA ranks eighth among the 34 OECD countries in college enrollment. But in college completion— the percentage of entering college freshman who go on to graduate—the USA ranks second to last, ahead of only Italy. Not long ago, notes Paul Tough, the “United States led the world in producing college graduates; now it leads the world in producing college dropouts.” In Georgia, one in four (24%) high school graduates complete college in four years, while 52% graduate from college in six years.
Four out of five Walker alumni graduate from college in four years or less – more than three times the state average – and, according our most recent alumni survey, the average college GPA upon graduation is 3.49.
Fresh off their first semesters at colleges across the country, five members of Walker’s Class of 2013 returned to campus on Tuesday, January 7, to speak candidly with current juniors and seniors about collegiate life. Sarah, Lauren, Austin, Brielle, and Melissa glowed with unmistakable confidence as they answered questions from students about managing class schedules, participating in extracurricular activities, getting to know roommates, and more. While their fields of study range from dance to biomedical engineering, the students all had one thing in common: the education they received at Walker had more than prepared them for a rigorous yet fulfilling college experience. AP classes sharpened their critical thinking skills. The variety of extracurricular clubs, athletics, and fine arts offerings taught them to manage time while still refining their unique talents. Walker’s dedicated faculty members nurtured, challenged, and encouraged them throughout their academic career in the Upper School.
As I listened to these five successful young men and women eagerly share stories from their first semester at Brown, USC, Mississippi State, Davidson, and Wake Forest, respectively, I felt proud yet I was not surprised. While independent schools like Walker are college preparatory, our focus is not only on college acceptance, but on the whole student. We believe that students develop self-confidence as they are challenged in small classes, learn to handle success and failure, and are supported by teachers who genuinely care about their students and subject. Now more than ever, the present investment in a Walker education yields a profound return.