High risk investment. Send kids to Phillips Exeter. Hope you come out with the next Mark Zuckerberg.
No need for the circlejerk. I went to a school like that - a bit smaller, and not a boarding school. The two Exeter academies were two of the few consistently to do better than us in most things...
A few things to realize -
One, the kids really don't mind for the most part. Most people at my school loved it; before I went there, I had never seen people actually excited to go to class in the morning...
Two, for most parents who send their kids there, there's very little risk. Expensive? 30k or 40k a year ain't much for the vast majority there. Some parents literally didn't know how much it cost because it was just a check to write once a year. My classmate's parents had the record for the biggest divorce settlement in the state. I was the token poor kid on an academic scholarship.
Three, yes, many parents are too focused on college as the end-all, be-all stage. "They're 18 and they're in Yale, our job is done." (By the way, from a class of 130, 13 went to Yale alone... a good third into an ivy and a good third into comparable schools. I didn't, heh heh. I had friends who got into every single school they applied to, and had the first world problem of MIT vs Princeton vs etc etc etc etc...) Now, what school your kid goes to is clearly not that important
, but it does tend to set them up for a lifetime of contacts and good examples of ambition and success. They're quite literally in the club from the start
while others try to convince their boss or interviewer or whomever that they belong in the club; don't underestimate how powerful it is to go to an interview and talk to someone as an equal. And don't underestimate the ridiculously large effect of being surrounded by smart people all day, every day.
Very few parents hope or think that their kid will be the next dropout-prodigy. Most just want their kids to be successful, which means - having the contacts and ability to start a business, or finding employment in one of the traditionally well-paying and/or dynastic fields (finance, medicine... politics), or simply being able to support themselves as an artist or writer or whatever. And to be perfectly blunt, the schools are structured that if someone get be accepted and do well in such a school, they're pretty much guaranteed to be able to do those things.
Oh, and the parents who focus on sending their kids to such schools tend to do okay in the talk-to-your-kids regularly department. Okay, I don't know how well it works for the boarding school kids, but my experiences showed me that it worked fine for the majority of my classmates. Occasional fuckups happen but that's true for anyone.
There are a few things that more parents should teach their kids at such places... namely, how to want
. Everyone learns the lesson - you need to want more
- but very few learn what more should mean; left to their own designs, they take cues from their environment, and more becomes a bigger house, a better car, a nice boat... and higher social status, more income, more responsibility, and so on. In short, there's a lot of good and there's some bad. I remember a friend whose parents earned some 400k/year saying that if his dad ever lost his job they'd be broke inside a year. Yeah, there were definitely lessons missed.
I see no issue with large spending on education. As my grandparents always told me - they can take everything from you, your belongings, your home, your money, your land - but they can't take your education. It's the ultimate safety net, much more valuable and much more safe than large equity holdings through vanguard or a real estate business.
I'll also speak against the sentiment that just by spending time with your kids, you can get them a comparable high school education to what these schools offer. Elementary school, maybe, since it's essentially day-care. High school? Not a chance, not unless you have about ten advanced degrees with real-world experience using each. No public school can approach the quality, no home schooling can approach the quality, and no combination of those can either. I'm not saying it's the right choice for everyone, but I am saying: don't try to make yourself feel better by shitting on the people who make that choice by saying that you can do as well as they can in imparting an education; you can't.