Request for advice: high school transferring

post by argella42 · 2016-03-01T22:27:56.498Z · score: 7 (8 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 33 comments

UPDATE 3/16/16: I decided to go to public school, because I was tired of all the little annoying stuff at my current school--especially the entitled kids and the entitled attitude in general. Everybody acts like they deserve something. It's very irritating.

The other reason I came to that decision was "exploration value". By moving to a new situation I learn whether I really am better off in the kind of environment offered by the public high school; even if it ends up being worse for me, at least I know what to avoid. If it's good, I know it's good; and if it makes no difference, I know that, too.

EDIT: Just to clarify, I attended public middle school with the same group of kids, so I won't have to worry too much about getting to know new people. I am still in occasional contact with my old friends. I talked to one of them for several hours just yesterday.

(I'm new here, though I've lurked, so if I break any rules or otherwise do something detrimental, please let me know and I will try to correct my mistake)

I currently go to a rather nice independent high school. I'm on significant financial aid, so I can afford it. The academics there are outstanding. However, being a boarding school (I go as a day student) it requests a lot of our free time. We are required to participate in adult-sanctioned activities at least six or seven hours a week, in addition to normal classes. This means that 1. I get home from school around 6pm and 2. (more importantly) it's very hard to socialize when you don't board at the school, and there's really very little besides drama or sports (neither of which I like very much) that people do after school and actually enjoy/make friends in.

I'm strongly considering transferring to my public school, which is unusually good for a public school, as a junior next year. The academics are not as great (classes are less discussion-based and there are not as many APs offered) but there is a strong amount of participation in stuff I might actually enjoy after school (math team, etc.) because we're not required to do anything after school. I've noticed that when people tell me I have to do things, I enjoy them much, much less. Also, I won't have a commute, which would be nice.

Everything else about the schools is more or less comparable.

I'm sure when I think about this decision I am biased in some way. I'm probably succumbing to the sunk cost fallacy (sometimes I think if I'd been at the public school the last two years, I'd rather be at the private school) or something like that. If not, I'm facing the problem of Buridan's Ass.

My question to you: should I transfer or not? I have thought very hard and consulted several intelligent people, and have not been able to come to any sort of conclusion.

 

 

33 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by gjm · 2016-03-01T22:56:06.887Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

What are your university plans? The more interested you are in going to a highly selective university or studying something very challenging there, the more valuable the academic strength of your current school.

Do you think the "outstanding" academics at your current school mean that you would actually learn more there than at the public school, or only that you would be better credentialled or something of the kind?

My impression is that later in life many people remain in touch with their friends from university and rather few with their friends from high school. If I'm right about this, the social advantages of the public school are shortish-term only. (That doesn't make them unimportant.)

Do you have a strong sense of how friendly the other people at the public school would be to someone newly arrived from a fancy independent school? That seems like something that could be a source of tension (e.g., they may expect you to think you're better than they are, somehow, which can cause trouble even if you have no such attitude).

Is there anyone else who has a say in where you go? (Parents, legal guardians, ...) If so, what do they think, and what do you think about what they think?

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2016-03-02T10:22:19.151Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My impression is that later in life many people remain in touch with their friends from university and rather few with their friends from high school. If I'm right about this, the social advantages of the public school are shortish-term only. (That doesn't make them unimportant.)

Does that hold true now that we have magical facebook?

comment by argella42 · 2016-03-02T22:13:59.263Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As someone who uses facebook a lot and has many far-away friends from sleep away camp, it seems like it only forces you to keep in touch if you want to be.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-03-02T14:02:45.638Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Does that hold true now that we have magical facebook?

I don't facebook alone creates strong social connections. I'm facebook friends with a lot of the people from my school by I have little to do with them in my daily life.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2016-03-02T16:03:17.804Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It was more about ease-of-access to people you wouldn't keep in contact with. Facebook just makes it much easier.

Good point nonetheless.

comment by gjm · 2016-03-02T12:26:19.048Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have no idea. I would generally expect people to have more in common with others they meet at university than with others they meet in high school (more segregation by ability via university choice; more segregation by interests via subject choice) and to choose friends who are more likely to remain a good match in terms of personality, interests, etc. (people can change a lot between, say, age 16 and age 20) -- it's not just a matter of it being easier to lose touch with your high-school friends than with your university friends.

comment by argella42 · 2016-03-02T22:13:07.631Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The academics, in terms of signalling, are fantastic, but in terms of actual learning they are only okay. Theoretically they are fantastic in terms of actual learning too, but there are many bad teachers, and because the classes are heavily discussion based the learning is largely a function of the intelligence of your classmates, and my school is not selective enough for that to be taken care of. (They even have the gall to ban honors-level English and History classes for underclassmen, so I learn just about nothing in those...)

I'm still friends with several kids at the public school. They are very, very nice, and there are enough wealthy kids in my town that no one really cares about that. Also, they know I could only afford it because my mom works there, so they don't chalk me off as "snobby rich kid" (many of them are richer than me!)

My parents don't care at all. The only authority exerted in them in this area is that they won't let me unschool (which is something I really wanted to do for a while but probably don't have the self-discipline for

I don't expect to keep my high school friends, but if I'm happier from their friendship it will be easier for me to study and get good grades (I know this from experience).

comment by buybuydandavis · 2016-03-02T04:25:39.154Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

First, I would say look for the possibilities to make the boarding school work as best as possible.

What can you do directly? Have you considered actually boarding at your current school? Is that financially doable? If it's really an issue of coming home late every day, are there any activities that go late on some days, so that you have some long days, and then some short days? How can you adjust your schedule to make things work? You're going on 16, aren't you? Are you going to get a car for that commute? That might make life easier. On activities, have you looked at them all? You're young. Try things. Art. Music. Dance.

( I really can't recommend Dance strongly enough as something to get into young. It's fitness that can last and be used a lifetime. And it's a gold mine for young men, as there are a dozen girls trained in dance for every guy. I took up social dance after grad school. I'm 50 now, and dancing with girls half my age because I can. Me and my friends were just young morons for turning up our noses at dance. This falls under "try things" too. I had no idea I'd enjoy dance so much, or of all the benefits it would bring.)

After you look at your options for what you can do, I'd go talk to administrators at your school to see if they can help. Tell them you love the place - you LOVE the place - but you have issues because of being off campus and the on campus requirements keeping you from home. Could they reduce the participation requirements? Could they help further financially to get you boarding on campus? Maybe part time? What kind of high school doesn't have a math team?

Private boarding schools should have a good deal of flexibility in what they can do financially. Particularly with room and board, I expect that's just adding you to fix costs that the school already incurs.

I got a similar scholarship to a private (but not boarding) school. Though smart, I was not always so good a student. They counseled me and worked with me.

They want you to stay. They want you to succeed. They don't want you to bail.

Work for the best deal you can manage, and then decide.

The private school sounds like it would leave you better prepared, and certainly better credentialed to get into the best school you can.

The college you go to, and the friends you make there, have a huge effect on the rest of your life. I would expect the same principle applies to snooty boarding schools. You make connections that can last you decades. The college you go to matters if you want to go to grad school (because your grad school matters, particularly if you want to stay in academe).

The trade off you make now will be paying off in compounded interest for the rest of your life. It's a good time to suck it up a little for a long term gain.

I've noticed that when people tell me I have to do things, I enjoy them much, much less.

Everybody is like that. Particularly at work. Everything is a battle of status and control. It's not helpful. Try to let it go.

comment by argella42 · 2016-03-02T21:56:09.361Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The public school is really unusually good for a public school. Also, I'm a (straight) girl, and I've tried dancing and am REALLY bad at it. I took ballet when I was a little girl for years... I appreciate the suggestion, though.

I should have clarified that I'm on financial aid because my mother works at the school, not because they particularly want me. My mother did tell me that I might have gotten a scholarship anyway, because I'm a good student, but I don't know if I'd buy that.

My PSAT was very good (1490 out of 1520) and I have a solid A- GPA, so I probably don't have to worry too much about going to college. I am not hugely concerned with getting into Harvard or anything like that.

Furthermore, though the private school academics are definitely better, all of the classes are "discussion-based" which means that you spend most of the time listening to your peers try to bullshit their way into class participation points. Granted that some teachers ignore this and teach more traditionally, and some students are smart enough to say interesting things--but they're still high school students.

You're certainly right about letting things go. Even if society didn't really exist I'd still have to spend several hours every day hunting for food. I should be more grateful.

Thank you for the advice.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2016-03-03T13:27:04.760Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also, I'm a (straight) girl, and I've tried dancing and am REALLY bad at it.

I was spectacularly bad at it when I started. (For me it was just social dance, which doesn't have the same athletic barriers to entry as ballet or modern dance. ) This was after graduate school, and years of no real athletic activity, although I did exercise. The interesting thing is that I went from awful to pretty good. Experiencing that a physical talent can be learned is an important bit of development in itself.

Admittedly I haven't spent much time pondering all the foolish mistakes a young lady might make in her youth, having so much more experience with the foolish mistakes of a young man.

Perhaps some of the ladies in the audience would have some more data driven ideas on useful school activities for you.

(In fact, LW really should have an open thread on any bits of experienced based wisdom we think we've gained. Maybe I'll get around to that sometime. Considering it now, it really seems a scandal that with all our talk of winning, we don't really discuss the hard won techniques of doing so.)

I do think the following generalizes between the sexes though - the ability to move with coordination, confidence, strength, control, balance, and awareness is a big thing in a person's development. Beyond health and fitness, it has psychological consequences.

I am not hugely concerned with getting into Harvard or anything like that.

If I had it to do over again, or I had children, I would make that a concern. College is an opportunity to make a huge jump in the wealth and power of your social connections. It sounds cold and hard and calculating. And it is. Don't shy away from that calculation because some look down on such cold and hard social calculation.

I never thought about such things in my youth. I was ignorant of a great many things.

listening to your peers try to bullshit their way into class participation points.

I seem to have devolved into grandpa giving advice. But this will keep me forging ahead a while longer.

Your PSAT and your posts here tell me that you're very intelligent. Few people talk about the associated costs of high intelligence. When you're way out on the tail of the distribution, society isn't made to fit you, and you can easily mistake the world if you project your intelligence onto others and evaluate from there - what is more natural than to use the only mind you have access to to model the minds of others?

But you've got data that tells you that your mind is not like others. You are significantly smarter than most. Just how many, I don't know. You should know. Or find out. Get yourself percentiled so you have a decent idea just how rare a duck you are.

So about your peers. It's unclear how many of them really are your peers. And their bullshitting. That may just be the best they can do. That's what a right answer looks like to them. And to many of your teachers as well.

Your IQ should be a strong consideration in your original problem of choosing schools - just how much can you be segregated into classes with actual peers at each school? That's a significant consideration for how well the school fits your needs.

Furthermore, though the private school academics are definitely better, all of the classes are "discussion-based"

What would be the alternative? Lecture based? Work based?

They are requiring that you produce actual work product in homework, aren't they? If you're really smarter than most in your school, you're at great hazard of not getting what everyone needs out of school - the ability to discipline yourself to produce work product. The A- average seems to indicate you're doing ok with learning self motivation and self control, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

comment by ScottL · 2016-03-02T12:22:30.637Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I will describe this first in an abstract way and then in a child comment I will describe some practical techniques that I think might help.

When facing a tough choice, it is important that you are as strong as possible in the following areas:

  • Value awareness, i.e. that you have a full understanding of all the things that would impact your choice. People tend to neglect or not include certain things in their deliberations like being scared of change, for example, because either they don’t think about them or they don’t want to admit that they matter. You don’t want do this. If something is impacting your choice, then it should be included in your considerations.
  • Prediction accuracy, i.e. that you have a correct understanding of how valuable each choice will actually be once it is made and in the future as well. In most instances it is possible for us to improve upon our innate and intuitive predictions.
  • Agency, i.e. that you are fully aware of all of the moves and choices that you can make. You should be careful to avoid the false dilemma. As an example, let’s imagine someone wants to leave their job because even though they love it they have some major issues with a person at their work. This situation should not be framed as a choice between leaving their job or not, but as a problem in which leaving their job is one of many potential solutions. Even though the person may think at first that leaving their job is the only option, on deeper analysis they may find other better and less drastic strategies that they could follow to alleviate the problems with the person at their work.
comment by ScottL · 2016-03-02T12:24:30.038Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I will now explain some practical techniques that I would give someone in your position. It looks like you have already implemented some of them. FYI I haven’t provided much background on any of the techniques, so if you want any more information on any of the mentioned techniques check out my post on the CFAR material as well.

Value Awareness

  • Reframe the situation to find hidden values. You can do this, for example, by asking: “If I was already at the public school would the choice to switch to the private school be just as hard”. If there is a difference, then analysing why can often reveal hidden values.
  • Use goal factoring to find hidden values. This entails finding some alternate set of actions through which you could get what you want cheaper and then analysing why you don’t choose to go with the cheaper option. For example, boarding at the school would resolve move of the problems you have, e.g. travelling and not having enough social time with the other students. I don’t know if this is an option, but if it is and you don’t want to do it then the reason for this should be in your considered valuations.
  • Find out which aspects of the choice are cruxes. You can do this by creating a list of the valuable or aversive things related to the two choices and then eliminating one of them at a time to see if the choice you would make is significantly altered. If it is, then you have found a crux.
  • Reference class hopping. Try and think about if your choice ever wavers. That is, if there are moments when you really want to change schools. If this happens, then it indicates that there may be some large underlying issue that is prompting the desired change. An example might be that your desire to change schools spikes when you are feeling excluded, like you are not part of the clique or like you can’t connect deeply with anyone at the school. A large underlying issue, in my opinion, indicates a problem that you should at least try to resolve before making any drastic decisions.

Prediction Accuracy

  • Take an outside view. Can you find anyone who has made the same choice already?
  • Trial the change to see what it will actually be like. This is probably not applicable for your situation, but it is normally one of the first things to look into.

Agency

It can often be good to spend most of your effort on thinking about how to fix existing problems rather than moving to a whole new situation. It is common for people to not think about or to underestimate the costs involved with change. In your case, example costs would be having to get to know the new teachers and students in the public school. An example of fixing a problem could be seeing if it is possible to set up a math club at your private school.

  • Think through all the cruxes that you figured out earlier and try to come up with as many solutions as you can that would deal with those cruxes. For example, instead of taking the trip to the private school each day you can look into boarding at the school. Once you have come up with these strategies you can take a much more intricate approach to the choice, perhaps, employing multiple strategies to deal with different aspects relating to the choice.
  • Get the advice of others especially those who can relate and are close to the problem, e.g. teachers, parents, friends etc. Be sure not to present the solution as a false dilemma, i.e. to change schools or not. Instead try to explain the situation as fully as possible. This could involve going through all the cruxes and the strategies you have come up with the resolve them. There are two extra benefits to this as well:
    1. It can often help you come up with a solution that should have been obvious. This is because there is difference between thinking you have fully understood a problem and being able to fully explain it to another person.
    2. It allows you to see the problem from a different perspective. It can, at times, be easy to miss the ramifications for other people of the choices that we make.
comment by argella42 · 2016-03-02T21:56:54.013Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is so thorough! Thank you so much! I think my desire to transfer does spike when I feel lonely... a useful piece of information. :)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-03-02T21:18:40.249Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If you're in the US, what are the average SAT scores at your independent school and at your public school?

comment by Bryan-san · 2016-03-02T15:53:58.087Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have several recommendations.

First things first, I strongly recommend reading this blog post by Siderea on the possible values of attending University. The difference between a public and private high school for you may very well be similar to the difference between a lower and higher status university. This article will expand your list of possible benefits and detriments to the two (and more) options. Spending lots of time around higher status and higher income people has a lot of benefits that aren't immediately obvious. (I'm assuming the private school is higher status here. I don't know your area and there are certainly low status private schools out there.)

I recommend adding these ideas to your considerations, reading what ScottL describes below, and then doing Goal Factoring on the entire question. Goal Factoring is a very useful CFAR technique that works well in this exact type of situation. I don't see a great write-up for it online and I'm not sure how great that link is at describing it. However, if you'd like to hear a more thorough explanation and practice the technique after you've looked into this stuff you're welcome to PM me your skype username and we can chat about it sometime soon. (I'm decent at debugging, but if you get any other offers you should definitely take those up as well as or instead of mine.)

And I also recommend going and meeting some people who actually attend the public high school or just taking a day off and wandering into the place to see what it's actually like in person. You may be slightly dissatisfied at your current location but would absolutely hate the public high school. (Bullying isn't a myth, the grass is always greener on the other side, etc.) The year you're in will also have a lot of consequences in what your experience is like since many friendships are already formed and group boundaries defined by the end of the 2nd year (if not the 1st).

Last but not least, if you don't already have a clear answer and want a hundred other things to consider (or you've decided on an answer and are ready for your next challenge) you should take a look at the Starting University Advice Repository thread. One of the primary values of High School is preparing you for and enabling your progression in University. This includes socially (for relationships), academically (for knowledge), building study habits, developing your writing, developing interpersonal skills, acquiring culture (acculturating), making use of the high school's prestige, and more (as described in Siderea's post linked above).

comment by argella42 · 2016-03-02T22:04:34.442Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That seems like really useful advice. One of things I actually don't like about the private school is that on the one hand it's rather high status, but on the other hand a lot of the people there are not very smart and most of them are quite superficial in a weird, ironic way (our school has an obsession with racism that borders on hysterical considering that the vast majority of students are white, a substantial minority are boarders from China, and as far as I know there has been only one isolated case of actual discrimination against anyone.)

I'm going to read through the goal factoring page tonight; hopefully I can get a grip on it and try to apply it to this situation in addition to the other techniques explained by ScottL (thanks again, ScottL!). And read the starting university advice page. I'll report back soon.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-03-02T10:28:00.622Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This means that 1. I get home from school around 6pm and 2. (more importantly) it's very hard to socialize when you don't board at the school, and there's really very little besides drama or sports (neither of which I like very much) that people do after school and actually enjoy/make friends in.

Sports or physical fitness in general is an important activity to stay healthy. A lot of the processing power of our brain goes to coordinating the body. If you have better balance less of your processing power needs to go towards coordinating your body, even if you sit in a math test.

it's very hard to socialize when you don't board at the school

Are you saying that you don't have good friendships with other students at the moment?

comment by argella42 · 2016-03-02T22:16:24.584Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I actually wouldn't mind being on track, but the very large time commitment (meets are usually at least an hour away) and the competitive aspect are deal-breakers for me, as they are for the other sports.

I have one or two friends, but the fact that we all live so far away and that most kids at the school are already in cliques and/or really fake and pretentious makes it hard.

comment by Bryan-san · 2016-03-16T15:46:00.622Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How did this end up going? Any chance of us getting an update?

comment by argella42 · 2016-03-16T18:34:13.853Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yup!

I will copy this into an edit of the main post:

I decided to go to public school, because I was tired of all the little annoying stuff at my current school--especially the entitled kids and the entitled attitude in general. Everybody acts like they deserve something. It's very irritating.

The other reason I came to that decision was "exploration value". By moving to a new situation I learn whether I really am better off in the kind of environment offered by the public high school; even if it ends up being worse for me, at least I know what to avoid. If it's good, I know it's good; and if it makes no difference, I know that, too.

comment by Curiouskid · 2016-03-03T08:55:17.503Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If I could re-do high school, I would get my GED as early as possible, and then do something useful with my time instead of gong to high school. For example, you could self-study a bunch of APs exams, test out of all the general education requirements at many universities, and then graduate from college early too.

Then, when you get to college, you can spend a bunch of your time socializing, on campus.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-03-03T16:58:40.204Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Then, when you get to college, you can spend a bunch of your time socializing, on campus.

I sounds weird to me that you want to intensely study in high school just so that you can drink and fuck your way through college...

comment by Curiouskid · 2016-03-05T10:08:04.937Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

OP said:

it's very hard to socialize when you don't board at the school,

I'm saying it's very easy to socialize on a college campus. Not necessarily drinking and fucking your way through college. To give one example, Just hanging around and chatting with people after class if you don't have a class immediately afterward.

comment by argella42 · 2016-03-03T16:54:50.704Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Believe me, I would do exactly that if I could, but my parents won't let me. It's not even that think I won't get into college--they don't seem to have a rational reason beyond "you just have to follow through with things" and "trust me, I'm much older than you, this is not a time in your life to waste opportunity" and "everybody needs a high school diploma, even if they go through college" none of which are strictly true, as far as I can tell.

That's part of my motivation for going back to public school--because there are less requirements and the workload is less strenuous I can build my schedule in a way that is conducive to me learning things outside of class.

comment by Curiouskid · 2016-03-05T10:14:10.793Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My parents were similarly irrational.

I think you could still take the GED and apply to colleges right now. I think it sometimes can help to discuss things concretely "I have my GED and have been accepted to XYZ Uni to study ABC" v. "I could get my GED and apply to colleges.".

If you can't graduate 2 years early with a GED, you could try graduating 1 year early by just earning all the necessary credits. My school offered credits for passing AP exams, and I just self-studied for several of them and passed them.

comment by argella42 · 2016-03-05T18:22:27.436Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I would do that, but they don't let you take the GED unless you've officially dropped out of high school. Which isn't happening...

I've considered graduating a year early, but at that point I'd rather just finish it out. I'll have enough free room in my schedule to take fun art classes and stuff.

comment by JRMayne · 2016-03-03T01:11:46.932Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Biases/my history: I went to a good public high school after indifferent public elementary and junior high schools. I attended an Ivy League college. My life would have been different if I had gone to academically challenging schools as a youth. I don't know if it would have been better or worse; things have worked out pretty well.

You come off as very smart and self-aware. Still, I think you underrate the risk of ending up as an other-person at the public high school; friends may not be as easy as you expect. Retreating to a public high school may also require explanation to college recruiters.

I also think your conclusion that you would study better with more friends may be a self-persuading effort that there are scholastic reasons to switch. But there don't have to be scholastic reasons: Being unhappy for two more years in your teens is a big deal, and if you are satisfied that your happiness will increase substantially by switching, you should switch. Long view is nice, but part of that view should be that two years of a low-friend existence sounds no fun, and the losses of switching are likely to be minimal.

Finally, commuting is a life-killer. Adults very commonly underrate the loss of quality of life for commuting (I commute 10 minutes each way; I have had jobs with one-hour commutes.) I'd suggest it's even more valuable time lost for a teenager.

Finally finally, I'm confident you'll get this right for you. Take a look at these responses, talk it out, then rock on. Be good, stay well.

comment by argella42 · 2016-03-03T16:55:43.838Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Finally, commuting is a life-killer. Adults very commonly underrate the loss of quality of life for commuting (I commute 10 >minutes each way; I have had jobs with one-hour commutes.) I'd suggest it's even more valuable time lost for a teenager.

You have no idea how gratifying this is to hear. The commute is only a half-hour drive, but it does kind of suck. It's nice to know I'm not crazy to think that.

comment by MaximumLiberty · 2016-03-02T20:51:39.472Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

When thinking that the local public school is otherwise equivalent to your boarding school, you should consider two things in addition to the things that others have noted:

  1. What's the base rate? Generally, private schools are better than public schools. Otherwise, people would not pay for private schools. Anecdotally, I am always appalled by the things I hear about public schools (since my kids went to private school). I'm also appalled by my own memories of public schools. The qualitative difference is usually pretty big.

  2. Public schools' reputations are usually overblown compared to private schools. Generally, you get into a public school by where you live. The reputation of the local public school thus affects property values, giving all the locals a strong incentive to claim that their school is good. Additionally, they feel more comfortable assuring themselves that the school that they are sending their kids to for free is a good school. That is, their conclusions that their schools are good is motivated reasoning. The result is that 75% of people believe that their kids' public school is above average, which is just impossible.

comment by argella42 · 2016-03-02T22:07:23.233Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I went to the public middle school, which is the exact same group of kids, so I know a lot of students there and have talked to them about it. It genuinely is the exception to the rule that a public school can be almost as good as a private school (and better, when you throw in the commute and the snobbery involved with the private school). I went to school in a different district when I was younger and it was terrible, even though the school was considered really good, so I know exactly what you're talking about.

I don't know what you mean by "base rate", but people seem to do pretty well at both schools.

comment by MaximumLiberty · 2016-03-07T00:40:57.955Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a link to the base rate fallacy article on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base_rate_fallacy.

A thing to avoid in your situation is focusing excessively on the specifics that lead you to conclude that the local public school will be as good as the private school you are attending. Generally speaking, public schools are lower quality than private schools. But getting a little more narrow might be worthwhile: How are the public schools in your general area compared to public schools in the country, using objective statistics on things like SAT rates? Now, can you compare that to your private school or your brand of private school (Catholic, secular, whatever)? Think about other metrics that matter for you: percent getting into Ivy League colleges, or number of assaults on campus per 100 students, or whatever.

Compare those rates before mentally inserting yourself into the situation. Once you mentally place yourself there, a lot of what you know about the statistics of the places can slip away. That is what the base rate fallacy teaches. It helps you focus on the idea that the median experience at each school is likely to be your experience, which helps defeat the "grass is greener on the other side of the fence.".

comment by Elo · 2016-03-01T22:55:20.247Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Gather email addresses of teachers that you like. keep in touch with them (or ask if it's possible). Then have the best of both worlds?

Try looking into a programming course by distance. i.e. www.codeacademy.com and ask in your school if you can take it on.

comment by westward · 2016-03-01T23:51:23.318Z · score: -5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Transfer.

I won't justify that answer because it sounds like you're looking for someone to tell you what to do. And really, you're smart enough to figure out why.