Private school vs. public: the transition can be difficult at first

Former private school students open up about the changes they went through in coming to Clark.

March 3, 2016


Rita Bilamejian

Claire Garcia discusses the difficulties she faced when transitioning from her private school Adventist, to Clark.

Each year, graduating middle school students face their biggest fear of going to high school. Though most are experienced from transitioning from preschool to elementary to middle to high school, this transition can be difficult for students from private schools going to public high schools.

As middle school is the transition from childhood to adolescence, high school is the preparation for one to jump into the real world. However, the transition from a private school to a high school can be even more challenging, as students not only change schools but also the environment.

This school year, freshman George Bandek came to Clark from Chamlian Armenian School. “It was difficult at first, but I’m glad I came to Clark,” Bandek said. Coming from Chamlian, a private Armenian elementary and middle school, Bandek said that his memories in Chamlian and the memories he is making in Clark will both be unforgettable. “Both schools are completely different from each other,” said Bandek. “But it’s the difference in students and teachers that makes me like both of them.”

Nicholas Matar thinks that it was much easier to make friends in Clark than it was at his private middle school, Incarnation.
Rita Bilamejian
Nicholas Matar thinks that it was much easier to make friends in Clark than it was at his private middle school, Incarnation.

For many students from private schools, it can be difficult for them to be surrounded by different people. Growing up in an environment with people that have the same culture and language, it will be very different for private school students to be surrounded by students from different backgrounds and cultures.”There are many different people from different cultural backgrounds in Clark,” said junior Nicolas Matar from Incarnation Parish School. “But I enjoy communicating with them and learning about their cultures.”

Not only does the environment change from a private to a public school, but so too do the rules and schedules. For many students, the first month of high school can be a difficult adjustment, but for students from private schools it is even more difficult, as they need to adjust to class schedules, time management and specific rules. “The environment is definitely more intimate in a private school,” said junior Claire Garcia from Adventist Middle School. “Students and teachers have a closer relationship because of the small number of people in the school.”

Buses and the lunch programs are other elements that can be different from private and public schools. Many private schools do not offer a bus program; thus, it can be difficult for some students to get used to the transportation system and schedule. The size of both public and private schools differ, as some private schools have fewer classes, close to each other.

For example, Bandek said that switching from classrooms located over greater distances can be difficult to get used to as opposed to switching from classes that are all nearby on a smaller campus.

Teaching is also different. In private schools, teachers have fewer students and thus have more time to talk to each student, while public school teachers have hundreds of students with potentially less time to devote to each student. “At my old school, the teachers were closer to the students,” Bandek said, “because they have fewer students to devote to their attention to.”

For Matar the transition was smooth. “The transition was not hard, not really,” Matar said. “It was not hard to adapt.” The only change he encountered was that there was no religion. Further, he said, it was much easier to fit in rather than his old school, as it had many “cliques.”

Matar liked the new environment he was introduced to, mainly because of the different type of people he was able to associate with. Though he came from an enclosed Christian environment, Matar said he was able to become assimilated into the school environment.

According to Janelle Harris, a blogger on The Stir in Cafe mom, there is no “such thing” as transitioning from a private to a public school smoothly. Many students transfer to be in an environment with different cultures while others transfer for personal or financial problems. But no matter the issue, Harris says that the transition can never be entirely easy.

“The transition was not as difficult as I had expected it to be,” Garcia said. “Because there were so many students and Clark is so big, it did take some time to get used to the new environment,” “I’m really glad I went to both Chamlian and Clark,” Bandek said. “They both gave me different, valuable experiences.”

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