Public or Christian Schools in Raleigh, NC: How Do You Choose?
Whether you have a preschooler or are looking for a new school for your pre-teen, choosing the right learning environment is no small task. This is especially true for Christian families who are wondering whether they should make the financial stretch for a faith-based education or consider the local public school options.
This dilemma typically prompts months of research and conversation. You want to know how schools near you are rated for quality, what the average cost is for Christian school, and what kind of return you can expect if you do invest in a private education.
Most of all, parents want to know that they are making the best decision for their child — one that will help them reach their potential in the classroom and beyond.
Today, we sat down with Dori Franklin, Director of Advancement, to address some of the most pressing questions families have as they evaluate school options. Dori works with hundreds of parents each year and helps them answer key questions as they decide which is best for them — public or private.
Dori, when prospective parents first reach out to you, where are they in the decision-making process?
Many parents are in the initial stages of school selection and are weighing all of their options. They may be familiar with the academic reputation of public schools around Raleigh, but worry about their child not building a strong Christian foundation if they go that route. They are also thinking about peer influences, extracurricular opportunities, who will be teaching their child … the list goes on and on!
Is the cost of private school one of the initial questions most parents have?
Definitely. Given the investment parents make when choosing private education, this is a top question.Many parents are not aware that some Christian schools (including WCA!) offer need-based tuition assistance. This is a game changer for families and can slash as much as 30% off tuition, with the opportunity to apply for additional aid through the state of North Carolina.
We walk parents through the process and, if they decide to apply, we help them understand what tuition could look like for their family. While it may be much more affordable than originally thought, it still won’t be free, and parents want to know how their sacrifice will pay off — now and in the future. We help them understand the value of nurturing a Christ-centered worldview. This begins at home, but reinforcement at school is priceless. After all, students spend the majority of their waking hours in the classroom — who they are spending time with and what they are hearing matters.
Aside from tuition, what would you say is the biggest concern parents have about public school?
Parents who are hesitant about larger school settings are usually most concerned about who will be influencing their children. Students spend the majority of their wake hours at school during the week, so it is natural to assume that they will be impacted by the views of those around them. In public schools, it is not possible for parents to keep track of the various ideologies being presented to their children.
One of the deciding factors when parents enroll at Wake Christian is our teachers. They do so much more than deliver a curriculum — they are Bible-believing mentors who know each student by name, pray with them, and genuinely care to see them succeed. They also commit to being available for open communication with parents throughout the year, and see their roles as a partnership with each family.
How do you reassure parents who have concerns about peer influence?
Some families come to us with concerns about issues such as bullying. Others have already had a negative social experience at another school and are looking for a change. This is less an issue of public vs. private, but more about the culture that a school intentionally creates. WCA prides itself on a Christ-centered environment, supporting students physically, socially, and emotionally. Students develop meaningful friendships, and mentoring relationships – influenced by involved adults — teachers, coaches, and other staff.
Will my child be able to participate in competitive athletics and other extracurriculars at a Christian school?
At WCA, we offer a wide variety of athletic teams, fine arts programs, service opportunities, and interest-based clubs, and we want everyone to be as involved as possible. Students are encouraged to try new things and build friendships based on shared interests. What’s more, the goal with each activity is not simply winning, but glorifying God. Your child will discover how they were gifted with specific talents and skills that they get to use to advance the Kingdom, and that brings true fulfillment.
What are the more practical matters that parents want addressed?
Whether public or private, a school has to work for your family logistically. These matters include the location of the school/proximity to a family’s neighborhood, extended care offerings, and affordability. WCA offers before-school care at no extra cost and after-school care at a nominal fee. We’re conveniently located right off U.S. Hwy 401, which provides easy access to families throughout Wake, Johnston, and Harnett Counties. While we understand that private school is a big financial commitment, we can suggest a variety of options to make high-quality Christian education accessible to as many families as possible.
What questions do you have as you consider the best learning environment for your child?
We would love to answer your specific questions and learn more about your family’s needs and priorities. Download our Parent Guide to keep reading, or give us a call at (919) 772-6264. We look forward to hearing from you!