An independent, coeducational PK-Grade 12 private school located in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Understanding The What, Why, and How of Independent PRIVATE Schools

When to Consider an Independent Private School for Your Child

As a parent, you have a choice to make about your child’s education. Only you can weigh the differences between public and private education to determine which is the best fit for your child. Below we will outline the What, Why, and How of independent private education and how it compares to public education. Tip: Include your child in the conversation to help them understand why this is an avenue you are exploring.

Why an Independent Private School Could Benefit your Child and Family

Independent private schools exist to give students and teachers the freedom and flexibility in their learning and curriculum. This is in stark contrast to the state and federal standards that drive the public school systems.

Private schools generally have lower student-to-teacher ratios, high school graduation rates that exceed public school, increased college attendance rates, and stronger school communities, which lead to more positive feelings toward education. Altogether these elements provide an opportunity for your child to be a step ahead in this ever-changing world.

How an Independent Private School is Different from a Public School

We’ve used the term independent private education/school quite a bit already. However, what qualities define an independent school? 

In the United States, public schools are accredited by the U.S. Department of Education and Civics. The U.S. Department of Education and Civics manages 98,871 schools from Kindergarten through grade 12. Beyond federal accreditation, public schools are accountable to state, district, and school leaders before decisions can be made about changes in the school.

Independent private schools function much differently than public schools. Many are organized as 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, individually governed by boards. As such, state and local politics play little part in their oversight. Independent schools also have their own accrediting bodies.

Here you will find links to the websites of some of the largest accrediting boards for independent schools in the nation:

Independent vs. Public vs. Private

When you consider the range of school options available, an exorbitant amount of naming conventions are used:

  • Public school

  • Charter school

  • Magnet school 

  • Religious school 

  • Home school

  • Private school

  • Independent school 

With so many categories of schools, it can be overwhelming to understand the difference. Let’s explore the three most relevant categories when considering a public, private, or an independent education.

Public School

Accredited by the U.S. Department of Education and Civics, public schools receive money from both the federal government and state government to run their day to day operations. 

Private School

Private schools are schools that have been accredited by an independent accrediting body. Private schools do not receive funding from the federal or state governments; however, they may receive funding from religious or higher institutions - their governance may also stem from any such affiliation. All operational funding can be derived from current families, past families, and community members through tuition, donations, or auxiliary revenue. 

Independent School

Independent schools are accredited by an independent body, and they do not receive funding from any government subsidies. They rely on funding from past and current families, as well as community donations, in addition to tuition and auxiliary revenue. Independent schools are governed by a Board of Directors. These are often vested stakeholders, alumni, and any persons who are charged with ensuring the school is operating within its respective mission.

Independent Private School Curriculum

Independent schools have the freedom to adapt their curriculum to best serve their students in order to fulfill their school’s mission. Fredericksburg Academy has specific curriculum goals for each of its three school divisions. Let’s take a deeper dive into those. 

Fredericksburg Academy Academic Fast Facts:

  • 7:1 average student-to-teacher ratio

  • Averaging 12 students per classroom

  • 100% graduation rate

  • 100% acceptance to four-year colleges and universities 

  • The student body is more diverse than an average Virginia or National Independent School (34%)

  • Consistently out-perform state and national averages on ACT, SAT, and AP tests

Lower School

Lower School students at Fredericksburg Academy explore a range of academic subjects. With a hands-on approach to learning, students in FA’s Lower School are provided the ability to incorporate concrete, real-world applications of learning into their experience.

Learn More About Lower School

Middle School

Middle School students at Fredericksburg Academy can expect a robust offering of traditional academic courses blended with enriching opportunities in athletics and performing and visual arts. They will engage in classes that challenge their academic growth and build community and global awareness in addition to relevant experiential learning and travel opportunities.

Learn More About Middle School


Upper School

Fredericksburg Academy empowers students of all levels to challenge themselves beyond their preconceived limits. Upper School students are encouraged to engage in critical thinking projects, explore academic topics to the limit, strive for more opportunities in which to excel, and to reflect often. Only then will they unlock their fullest potential.

Learn More About Upper School


Independent Private School Enrichment

After the school day is complete, students may have more time they need to occupy before they return home. Independent private  have greater freedom to provide in-house enrichment options. Before- and after-school care and enrichment programs can be found in the majority of independent private schools. At Fredericksburg Academy, we have a large selection of enrichment opportunities for students of all ages.

Lower School

Lower School students don’t have to head home at 3:30 p.m. With traditional after-school care options and a host of clubs for upper-elementary students, we understand a parent’s life can be busy and children may need a place to spend some extra time after school. At FA we know how to make the most of that time. After School Highlights include International Club, Garden Club, Falcon Club, Enrichment, Band and more!

Middle School

Middle School students can extend their school day with performing arts, three sports seasons, and enrichment classes. Most clubs and student group meetings are built into the schedule to make room for these types of activities. Enrichment classes are offered on a rotating schedule. Sign up for one session, two sessions, or all of them! 

Upper School

Upper School enrichment looks a little different. Our Upper School students partake in sports, performing arts, and leadership programs beyond the school day. Upper School students are also provided the opportunity to improve the environment, teach, tutor, or play with our younger students and campus visitors in after-care and through the Enrichment program, and are encouraged to help out and be present in our larger community. 

Independent Private School Athletics

Independent school athletics allow your child to be a part of a championship-winning team without the pressure of tryouts and cuts. If your child is interested in college recruitment, he or she will not be limited by attending an independent school. Our students at Fredericksburg Academy have gone on to play in D I, II, and III settings. With 25 athletic teams to experience, your child has a fantastic opportunity to explore their athletic pursuits.

Independent Private School Traditions

When you join an independent school, you are not just signing up for classes. You are joining a rich school history that is steeped in annual traditions.

Each division at Fredericksburg Academy has a large array of traditions that students partake in. 

  • Lower School students look forward to our annual Halloween Parade, Fall Carnival, Holiday Breakfast, and Grandparents and Special Friends Day. 

  • Middle School students engage in Colonizing Day, visit the Chesapeake Bay, Philadelphia, and enjoy competitive camaraderie in Tacocat. 

  • Upper School students recharge for a day of relaxation and fun at The Perch, show their school spirit at homecoming games, lead pep rallies for the rest of the school, and bond as a student-body during prom, after-prom, and lock-in. 

These traditions are important in continuing to foster a strong community. We rely on students to help plan and coordinate these events, which amplifies their importance within the community.

Independent Private School Outcomes 

K-12 education aims to prepare students to enter the world at large. For most students today, that begins with attending a four-year university and obtaining a college degree. At Fredericksburg Academy, 100% of our students go on to attend a 4-year institution. 

Fredericksburg Academy students are prepared not only to meet the academic demands of a college curriculum, but they are also prepared to integrate into their college community and continue to lead their peers. Our mission is only fulfilled when alumni continue to thrive in their careers and communities.

Fredericksburg Academy’s Mission & Beliefs

At Fredericksburg Academy, we believe that each student has so much to offer. We foster a safe and supportive community, with a strong foundation centered on the diversity of thought and people. 

As a school community, we believe that each student’s emotional, ethical, intellectual, physical, and social development is essential, and that strength and resilience are cultivated through a combination of achievement, mistakes, joy, and disappointment.

We provide opportunities in academics, the arts, athletics, citizenship, and leadership for each student to define his or her unique path on the road to success.

Our mission: We inspire and empower our students to discover, to engage, and imagine the limitless nature of themselves and the world.

How Much Will Private School Cost?

While independent education has a cost associated with it, this investment is returned with happy students, above-average outcomes, and peace of mind about your child’s experience at school.

Fredericksburg Academy has projected the following range of tuition for 2020-2021:

  • Kindergarten: $12,500–17,325
  • Grades 1–5: $14,000–$21,825
  • Grades 6–12: $15,000–$24,660

Tuition covers more than classes; it incorporates field trips and athletic team participation. 

We understand that tuition is not something all families plan to take on when considering primary education. Our students are from a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds and because of this, we work with each family to find the right tuition level for their unique financial situation through Indexed Tuition. There are many options

If you’re looking for more information on Indexed Tuition or have questions regarding payment plans, or how to apply, click here. FA is not out of reach, let us show you how.

Take the first step

If an independent education feels right for your family and you want to speak with someone to learn more, our admission team is always available to answer any questions you may have. Come see all that Fredericksburg Academy has to offer.

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