Market Overview

Westtown School: Value Added to the High Cost of College


One statistic leaps out from a recent Time Magazine graphic piece entitled "Degrees of Difficulty": only 58% of college students graduate within six years. Westtown School tells a different story. In striking contrast to the national figures, nine out of ten Westtown graduates complete their four-year degrees within four years – and they finish at the college where they started, facts with important implications for parents.

West Chester, PA (PRWEB) October 26, 2012

The October 18 issue of Time Magazine is about the future of traditional college education. In a graphic piece entitled "Degrees of Difficulty," one statistic leaps out: only 58% of American college students graduate within six years.

Westtown School, a college prep school in West Chester, PA, tells a different story. Nine out of ten Westtown graduates complete their four-year degrees within four years – and they finish at the college where they started! This is in striking contrast to the national figures and it has important implications for parents who worry about affording college tuition and students who are afraid of assuming high levels of debt.

Westtown graduates succeed in college for several reasons. Results of the College and Work Readiness Assessment, which Westtown administers to 9th and 12th graders, show both groups outperform college freshmen – before they ever get to college. In a recent survey of young alumni, 96% said their Westtown education prepared them very well for college, including for reading-, writing- and lab-intensive courses.

Additionally, Westtown moved beyond the AP program nearly a decade ago in order to offer advanced curricula that's often on par with college coursework. Seminar-style classes, emphasis on analysis and critical thinking, high expectations for written and oral communication, lab-driven science courses and opportunities for collaborative problem-solving are among the factors graduates cite as indispensable preparation.

Another 96% of Westtown students felt better prepared for college dorm life than their peers. Something as basic as working through roommate issues comes naturally to graduates by virtue of Westtown's residential experience that includes a diverse international population. All juniors and seniors are expected to board at Westtown whether they're from halfway around the world or around the corner, and graduates as well as their parents cite boarding as having given them an excellent foundation for what comes next.

Other intangibles – time management, having the self-discipline to study in an atmosphere of complete independence and the confidence to approach their professors with questions and ideas – are things the Westtown experience helps students master while still under the guidance of caring adults.

Yet another factor in Westtown graduates' college success is the strength of its college counseling program. Susan Tree, the school's nationally respected Director of College Counseling, notes that Westtown students matriculate at a wide range of highly selective colleges and universities. She suggests the key to college achievement is the thoughtful process of self-discovery that gets them there. “A successful Westtown career is not defined so much by college admission as by the confidence and preparedness a student enjoys as he or she moves on to the next level of education and the sense of ‘fit' with the choice of college.”

What does all this mean for parents and students? The math alone is compelling: four versus six years of college tuition. Students who adjust quickly to college life and academics are happier and better able to make the most of their experience. And Westtown graduates choose majors in science, technology, engineering and math – the STEM disciplines – at a rate twice the national average, making them highly marketable in the competitive global workplace.

Admission Director Nathan Bohn wants prospective parents to think of a Westtown education as a lifetime investment. “It's definitely an investment, but I encourage parents to look at the return. I tell them with absolute confidence that not only will their children be prepared for college and career, but they'll also be prepared to lead a good life. That's what Westtown means by a life-size education.”

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