Enticement of in-person learning causes some students to switch schools

Private schools offering in-person learning this fall are attracting day and boarding students


Roycemore School Website

Roycemore School in Evanston has seen a rise in enrollment this year, possibly from students who want to be in person this fall

With the news that the school  would be starting the 2020-2021 school year all remote, some students decided that they would rather switch schools to learn in-person.

Currently, 42% of enrolled Roycemore students came to us from public school. For the entirety of the 2019/20 school year, only 28% of students came from public schools.”

— Amanda Avery

New Trier’s reopening plan delays the hybrid model until the first week of October, and even then  most students will be learning remotely four days a week. 

However, some students wanted to  go back –at least partially—enough to switch schools. 

Junior Aexandra Buric, who switched to Lake Forest Academy as a day student, felt that she couldn’t learn as well as she wanted to if her classes were entirely over Zoom. Lake Forest Academy has 420 students enrolled, 350 of whom are in person. The school will start all in-person until Thanksgiving, when they will move to remote learning for the holidays. 

“I totally struggled last year to pick up new subjects during remote learning, and given that junior year is the most important academic year for college I wanted to make sure I was able to do my best in school,” said Buric.

Going out of state to live at a closed-campus boarding school is another option for students who want more space and freedom than living and attending school from home provides. This summer, junior Lucy Titterton decided to apply to the Taft School in Connecticut, which has about 500-600 day students and boarders.

“I didn’t want to spend a whole year trying to do work around my parents. I love them, but I need a lot more personal space than what the confines of our house gives. Second, I find New trier’s method of e-learning (endless Zoom) to be boring and uninformative, and I didn’t want to have my junior year grades affected by that,” said Titterton.

Buric started thinking of switching schools before New Trier decided to go all-remote until October.

“Even when New Trier was considering hybrid my dad brought [the possibility of transferring schools] up. I wasn’t super enthusiastic about the switch until it became a possibility of being all online, and that’s when we seriously started looking at schools,” said Buric.

She said  that finding a school where she could learn  in-person was a requirement for her. 

“There isn’t a huge selection of private schools in the area and my parents were looking for somewhere where I could get the best education, so immediately we ruled out any schools also doing hybrid or remote.”

Titterton’s decision was based more on opposition to going fully remote in the fall.

“I decided to transfer in the middle of July, when it looked like school would officially be online in the fall… I wasn’t considering switching before the pandemic, but I think avoiding the nightmare that is New Trier e-learning outweighs any negatives that come from making this commitment.”

Schools that are going hybrid or in-person are seeing admission spikes. Amanda Avery, the Director of Admissions at Roycemore School in Evanston, which offers full-day in-person learning with a remote option, said that there has been a large admissions spike because of students wanting to go to school in-person.

“So far, we have had about 170 applications for 2020/21. For the entirety of the 2019/20 school year, we only had 135 applications, so our numbers spiked!” said Avery.

Many of these new applicants have come to Roycemore because their previous schools weren’t offering on-campus learning, especially those transferring from public schools.

“What is especially interesting is that we have seen a rise in the number of public school students who are seeking Roycemore admission this school year. Many have reported that due to the lack of on-campus options at their previous school, they are seeking placement in Roycemore’s on-campus options. Currently, 42% of enrolled Roycemore students came to us from public school. For the entirety of the 2019/20 school year, only 28% of students came from public schools,” Avery said.

Other private schools have reported similar jumps in admissions. For example, Heritage Christian School in Bridgeport, West Virginia has reported that their total enrollment  for the 2020-2021 school year is 20 students larger than it was for the last school year, according to WDTV, the local news station. At Parkway Christian School in Detroit, MI, usually 30 new students enroll per year. However, this year, 70 new families have decided to send their children, according to CBS Detroit. In Richland, Washington, Liberty Christian school has seen a 10% enrollment spike, according to KEPR, Richland’s news station.

For some students, they just feel like it’s better for them to learn in person and liked going to New Trier in-person before the pandemic started. However, even when schools like New Trier go back in person, students who have switched may stay at their new schools.

“I’d like to return to New Trier once the pandemic is over, but realistically speaking, boarding

school is probably going to be a two-year commitment,” said Titterton.