Beginner’s Guide To Prep School

in News

Deciding where to send your child to school is not an easy decision. From location to academic offerings to extracurriculars, there’s a lot to consider. During your research,you may have stumbled across something called a “university preparatory school” and wondered what exactly that meant. How does a prep school differ from a traditional school? Read on for answers to all of your questions. 


What is a Prep School?

Prep schools are as varied as the kids they serve. In general, though, they have one common denominator: They are focused on preparing students for further education, primarily college. 

You’ll primarily find prep schools at the high school level. Which makes sense since college often comes directly after graduation. 

In our case, prep school starts a little earlier. University Prep’s two northeast Denver schools serve elementary students from kindergarten through 5th grade. They are both tuition-free, public charter schools with a singular mission: Prepare every child for a four-year college degree and a life of opportunity. We begin building college-ready academic skills on day one—we even take our kindergartners on tours of regional university campuses.  Our curriculum also prepares students to excel in middle and high school—key stops along the way to that big goal. 

University Prep is built around four scholar PREP values: pride, responsibility, enthusiasm, and perseverance. By focusing on teaching challenging academics and building confident, well-rounded scholars, we’re setting U Prep students on a path to success in their future endeavors.


Benefits of Attending a Prep School

Prep schools provide a strong academic foundation. At U Prep, we implement college-prep curriculum at all grade levels in order to challenge students and foster the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Our supportive learning environment helps students build confidence as they overcome obstacles and master new skills.  Along the way, they also cultivate essential life skills, including effective communication, listening, self-motivation, teamwork, and resilience, which are essential for a successful college career. 

Another benefit of attending a prep school is the exposure to various opportunities. Kids need to see what’s possible so they can keep dreaming bigger. At U Prep, we not only take our scholars on annual campus tours—we also bring professionals in to speak to students and XX, so they can see the range of careers available to them. 


How Prep Schools Stand Out From Regular Schools

The most significant difference between a K-5 prep school and a regular school lies in the approach to education. It’s no secret that many public schools are underfunded and rely on out-of-date curriculums to teach and prepare children for the future. On top of that, overworked teachers rarely have the luxury to spend quality one-on-one time with children and help them overcome challenges in a positive environment.

On the other hand, teachers at prep schools are specifically trained and are given the tools and time to help students excel in their studies. This focus on student-first learning, along with smaller class sizes, often leads to better academic outcomes for students attending prep schools than their peers in regular schools.

Another big difference to keep in mind is the attention to self-discovery. Elementary school-aged children are only beginning to navigate how to make friends, deal with peer pressure, and learn how to work in a group. By fostering these skills through fun games, extracurricular activities, and hands-on projects, students will get a head start on excelling in these essential life skills.


Results to Expect From a Prep School

We know you want to send your child to the school that’s best for them, and results are an important part of that decision-making equation. 

We can only speak to our own outcomes:  U Prep students consistently outperform their peers across Denver Public Schools (DPS), despite nearly 90% of our scholars coming from low-income households. (Demography is not destiny!) Our 4th and 5th graders have shown impressive growth in reading and writing, ranking in the 90th and 96th percentiles, respectively, when compared to all DPS schools. Our 5th graders’ math proficiency is nearly twice as high as DPS and significantly outperforms our community serving similar student populations. All of this shows that our scholars are ready to transition into middle school and continue on the path to achieving their dreams.

Learn more about our results here.


Learn More About University Prep Schools

Now that you know more about what prep schools are, we encourage you to consider how this educational approach can serve your child and help them achieve their full potential. If you’d like to learn more about U Prep, reach out to us, read some alumni stories, attend an open house, or complete an interest form. We look forward to speaking with you.