Prep School vs. High School: 4 Ways They Differ

Prep School vs. High School: 4 Ways They Differ

When thinking about prep school vs high school in a public setting, there are more things to consider than school uniforms and prestigious alumni. Those things usually come to mind when you think “what is prep school,” but there is a lot more to what a prep school really is. In this blog, we’ll answer the question, “what are prep schools” and tell you four ways prep school vs. high school differ. 

What Is Prep School?

Just exactly what is prep school? Short for college preparatory school, prep school is, in essence, an educational institution specifically designed to prepare students for college and get them into some of the best universities in the country.

Ideally, every school in the country should be doing just that, but that isn’t always the case. Not every high school prioritizes college preparedness in its curriculum and approach. Prep schools, on the other hand, tend to deeply value college education and feel it is the key to personal and professional success. This creates a focus on teaching students what they will need to excel in college. Most, if not all, prep school students will go on to pursue higher education.

Prep School vs. High School: What Is the Difference?

Here are the four main differences between prep schools and high schools.


Student Selection

So, what are prep schools doing differently than high schools? Traditional high schools serve students in the surrounding area or district and are funded by local tax dollars. This means that traditional high schools are open to all types of students, from the highly motivated to the least motivated. Comparatively, college prep schools often have a selection process for admittance.  

The process may involve testing, interviews, an application process and possibly another form of selection to make sure applicants align with the school’s values. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all the best students attend prep schools. But, it does mean that college prep schools tend to be made up of more highly motivated, higher-achieving students who want to attend college.

Class Sizes

There is no doubt that many public schools have larger class sizes than private schools. The average U.S. public school has a student to teacher ratio of 16:1, though this varies from state to state. When looking at a prep school vs. high school, prep schools tend to maintain smaller class sizes, which means teachers can provide more personalized instruction and attention to their students.


What are prep schools doing differently than traditional high schools when it comes to educational expectations? Because prep schools emphasize collegiate readiness, students are pushed academically beyond the status quo. These students will have the grades and GPA necessary to apply for elite institutions.

College prep schools also may have support services to help struggling students earlier than a traditional high school. At times, traditional high schools can be focused on getting their students to graduate rather than helping them to attend college. 

Career & College Counseling

College and career counseling can make a big difference for students. Students don’t always have a great idea of what field they want to study or what college they want to attend. Prep schools often offer this service to help students identify their interests and universities that could be a good fit for them in the future.

Some traditional schools do offer college and career counseling. However, access is usually limited to seniors rather than at prep schools when counseling begins earlier. With the high volume of students at traditional high schools, resources can be spread thin and students might not get the personalized attention they need. Prep schools tend to work along parents and students to ease the anxiety of the college application process and help to ensure every student is prepared for life post graduation. 

What Are the Benefits of Prep School?

There can be endless advantages to prep schools, but everything always returns to college readiness. Going to a college prep school helps prepare your child for higher education. Lessons learned, classes taken, and the skills developed will allow your child to become competitive in the college application process. Not to mention, you can rest assured knowing they will have support along the way.

Is Prep School Worth It?

Now that you’ve heard what a college prep school is, you may be asking yourself if prep school is worth it. If you dream of sending your child to an elite college, prep school may be the way to go. 

Knowing that your child’s education is focused on their success and college preparedness can help you breathe a little easier. Additionally, most prep schools have financial aid opportunities for qualifying families. So, yes, it is worth doing your research and looking for prep schools in your area to see what they may have to offer.

Choose the Best – Choose Central Christian Academy

If you are looking for one of the best private and prep schools in the Indianapolis area, it is time to contact Central Christian Academy. Since 1971, CCA has been providing a premiere education that has continued to develop leaders and open doors to some of the country’s top educational institutions.