The Private School X-Factor

| 17 Feb 2015 | 01:14

For many Manhattan parents, getting their children into a top-tier private school is an endeavor that starts before the kids are even born. Wading through the rankings, reputations and educational standings to decide where to apply is just one step in the long process, and entire companies exist just to rate these schools and assist families in getting admitted to their top choices.

We won't step on their (very profitable) toes here - our list is designed to give a snippet of information on the private schools in your neighborhood. Our aim is to showcase the one or two things that set each of these schools apart from the pack. They're all academically rigorous and educationally presitigious, and most are similar in cost. But where might you look to send your bright young aspiring chef who's just as interested in food science as history, or the promising athlete who might have a shot at the 2026 Olympics as well as the Ivy League? One of the benefits of private school is that the small size allows the schools to offer specialties, something that sets them apart from their peers, and which will hopefully allow their students to do the same.

Our list was compiled by researching information provided by the schools as well as recent news coverage. We included, where available, stats on student population and tuition, too. We chose the most well-known private institutions on the Upper West Side.

Whether you're right in the middle of the private school application mire or thinking about where to send your still-hypothetical future offspring, we hope our list will give you a fresh perspective and allow you to learn a few fun facts about the schools that make up a significant part of your neighborhood's educational landscape. ------ The Alexander Robertson School 3 West 95th Street



Tuition: $32,500

The Alexander Roberstson School is the only school with a STEM curriculum produced by the Smithsonian Science Education Center. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and such programs have been singled out around the country as vital to ensuring American students' competitive advantage in the future.

The Calhoun School

433 West End Avenue



Enrollment: 750 students

7:1 student to faculty ratio

The Calhoun School is a progressive educational school that uses community service as a way to help students grown personally and to connect to classroom experience. This is done on Calhoun's belief that students learn best through experience and discovery. The school has recently made headlines with its renovation plans for its main 81st Street building.

The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine

1047 Amsterdam Avenue



Enrollment: 284 students

6:1 student to faculty ratio

Tuition: $38,425

The school is known for its Choristers, a choir made up of students from grades 4-8, singing for services on Sunday mornings during the school year in addition to two full choral evensongs a month and at weekly school evensongs and even some professional engagements.

Collegiate School

260 West 78th Street



Enrollment: 653 students

Tuition: $43,400

Collegiate School is known for being the oldest school in the United States as well as being ranked the best K-12 all boys prep school in the nation. The school also announced relocation plans this year to a location between West End Avenue and Riverside Boulevard and between West 61st and 62nd Streets, with a targeted move date of 2016.

Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School

5 West 93rd Street



Enrollment: 1290 students

5.8:1 student to faculty ratio

Tuition: $39,990 - $41,940

Columbia Prep, the oldest non-sectarian private school in the United States, is known for its unique use of the board game chess. The game is introduced to kindergartners and, in first grade, the basic elements learned the previous year are expanded upon. Every school morning begins with Sunrise Chess where for one hour, students and parents "come on a voluntary basis for guided play and fun."

The Dwight School

291 Central Park West



Enrollment: 800 students

Tuition: $34,900 - $41,600

Dwight School is the only school in the city to offer the full International Baccalaureate Program, which is designed to address intellectual, social, emotional and physical development and well-being of students. It emphasizes breadth of knowledge and research and writing ability, critical thinking, and a model of creativity, action and service outside of the classroom.

The Mandell School

795 Columbus Avenue


K-8, expanding each year

Enrollment: 112 students

Mandell places emphasis on community outreach, being a part of the students' curriculum from Kindergarten to Eighth Grade. Each school year, students are required to select a community service project that they develop with the help of the Mandell teachers.

The Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan

805 Columbus Avenue



Enrollment: 140 students

As one of two Conservative Jewish schools in Manhattan, Solomon Schecter strives to combine general studies with an appreciation for Jewish culture and religion from learning Hebrew to participating daily in t'filah (prayer).

The Speyer Legacy School

15 West 86th Street


K- 8, 8th grade beginning Fall 2015

Enrollment: 244 students

Tuition: $36,500 - $38,000

Speyer Legacy is the city's only private school exclusively for "advanced learners," or academically gifted children. The school champions their student debate team and argues that teaching debate skills is an integral part of academic development.

St. Hilda & St. Hugh's School

619 West 114th Street



Enrollment: 378 Students

5:1 student to faculty ratio

Tuition: $29,175 - $40,500

St. Hilda & St. Hugh's School is known for their green activities. They are one of a limited number of schools with their own greenhouse, where students grow their own fruits and vegetables that are then used in cafeteria lunches and students are often taken on environmental field trips.

The Studio School

117 West 95th Street



Enrollment: 110 students

Tuition: $34,440 - $35, 960

The Studio School focuses on the process of learning as well as the concept and method of working with "the group" as a learning tool.

The Trevor Day School

1 West 88th Street


6-12 (N-5 is on East Side)

Enrollment: 436 students

Student-Faculty ratio 6:1

Tuition: $41,600

Trevor Day is known for its experiential learning education where students are encouraged to construct their own meanings as opposed to simple regurgitation. In the classroom, the students are in charge for the learning of the class with the teacher acting more like a facilitator to keep class structured.

Trinity School

139 West 91st Street



Enrollment: 986 students

6:1 student to faculty ratio

Tuition: $42,540 - $43,320

Founded in 1709, Trinity is known for being the fifth oldest school in the United States and the oldest continually operational school in the city. In addition, Trinity has a full Classics department, which is often recognized as the strongest in the nation.

York Preparatory School

40 West 68th Street



Enrollment: 350 students

7:1 student to faculty ratio

Tuition: $42,600 - $43,300

York Prep has no board of directors and accepts more than half of their applicants, which sets it apart from other private schools. They also boast a Beekeepers Society, where students help tend to hives on the rooftop of the school, learning environmental and biology lessons at the same time.