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Q: I want to send my teenager to a Catholic high school, but she doesn’t want to go because all her friends will be going to the public high school. Is this a good reason to reconsider?
—Public or Private?
A: My guess is that you wouldn’t be asking this question if there was an overwhelming reason to choose the Catholic school over the public school, such as much stronger educational resources or the safety of the school’s location. I’m imagining that you have made your pros and cons lists and that you’re leaning toward the Catholic school, but are open to the public school possibility, and the decision hinges on whether or not you should include your daughter’s input. With that in mind, I’m going to focus on the part of the consideration equation that concerns your daughter—the friend situation—rather than discussing the merits of Catholic education more broadly.
These friends of your daughter who will all be going to the public high school: what do you think of them? Are they good friends to your teen? Do they stay out of (at least most) trouble, the kind that you worry about as a parent? Do they bring out the best in your daughter? Do you trust them? If you answered yes to these questions, then I’d say yes, your daughter’s desire to go to school with her friends is a good reason to change your mind. The social component of high school is such a huge one, and making new friends can be anxiety producing, time consuming, difficult, and even in some cases, unsuccessful. It’s a lot to put your daughter through, especially against her wishes. On the other hand, if your daughter’s current friends concern you, making the switch to Catholic school may be the easiest avenue to put distance between her and the old posse, and to open doors to new friendships.