Enrollment at top private schools in South Florida is booming, as many out-of-state families have moved to South Florida in the years since the pandemic, seeking sunny weather, and escaping state income tax. For families in the region and those moving South, increasingly competitive enrollment trends can make choosing the right school particularly difficult and necessitate strategy and forethought.
The resources and experiences that students gain during their high school years will position them for success in the college admissions process and equip them to excel in higher education and beyond—but not every school is right for every student. An excellent high school will prioritize individual growth and development and provide opportunities for students to hone their interests both in and out of the classroom.
While South Florida has many top-notch public and magnet schools, the influx of new residents in the region has led in particular to a surge in applications to private schools. Danny Hertzberg—a real estate agent with The Jills Zeder Group, the #1 real estate team in the nation according to Real Trends/Wall Street Journal, stated in an interview: “The majority of buyers moving from other regions in the U.S. are primarily interested in private schools.” Hertzberg, who has also been named a Forbes “30 Under 30” and South Florida Business Journal “40 Under 40”—went on to note that the high demand for private schools has had a measurable impact on the housing market: “The lack of spaces is impacting [real estate] sales volume. Many families that are moving from out of state are not purchasing until they gain admittance to the schools of their choice. Several of my clients have held off for a school year or two until they secure the admission they are counting on.”
The most sought-after private schools in South Florida have a proven track record of success in college admissions. These schools provide their students with ample resources with which to navigate the college application process. As parents decide which private school is right for their student’s unique needs and aspirations, they should consider these three top schools, all of whose admissions rates reflect the increased interest in top-tier programs:
1. Pine Crest School
With campuses in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Pine Crest School has established a history of excellence in South Florida since its founding in 1934. One of the largest independent schools in the country, Pine Crest pairs tradition with cutting-edge innovation, seeking to prepare graduates for college and beyond. The school’s rigorous catalog offers 34 Advanced Placement courses, as well as post-AP curricula in English, math, computer science, science, the social sciences, Spanish, music, and the visual arts. The school’s impressive academic program and abundant extracurricular offerings have earned students admission to the top schools in the nation—since 2018, 136 Pine Crest graduates have matriculated into Ivy League schools.
While Pine Crest does not publish their official enrollment data, they have noted a surge in applications to both of their campuses across all divisions including Lower, Middle, and Upper School. According to an email from Melanie Connors, Head of School for the Boca Raton campus and Vice President of Admission for Pine Crest School: “Pine Crest School admission inquiries from out-of-state families have been strong for the past several years. This interest increased notably in March 2020 and has remained higher than in typical years. We believe the increase is due to a number of factors, including the impact of the pandemic, the rise in corporate remote work arrangements, and the attractive cost of living and quality of life in South Florida.”
2. Ransom Everglades School
Since the pandemic, Miami has seen an enormous influx of new residents, even as other city centers have seen residents head to the suburbs in droves. For families seeking the warm weather and vibrant cultural landscape of Miami, Ransom Everglades is a top-tier school for students in 6th through 12th grades. Offering student-centered, experientially-driven programs, Ransom Everglades School has been one of the most competitive and prestigious private schools in South Florida for 120 years. With almost 60 on-campus organizations and student groups, and numerous opportunities in the arts and athletics, students with wide-ranging interests can find a place to explore their passions at Ransom Everglades.
Scenically located on Biscayne Bay, the school seeks to prepare students for challenging collegiate coursework by offering an array of advanced courses (both Advanced Placement and the school’s unique advanced curriculum) taught by highly credentialed faculty—80% of whom possess advanced degrees in their field. The school also offers the Dan Leslie Bowden Fellowships in the Humanities, granting students the financial resources to explore an independent project in the humanities during the summer. Within the last five years, Ransom Everglades has sent 42 graduates to New York University, 27 to Cornell University, and 21 to the University of Pennsylvania.
3. Gulliver Preparatory School
Founded in 1926, Gulliver Preparatory School is a Pre-K-12 school in Miami offering students unique and interdisciplinary programs aimed at preparing them for their academic and professional futures. With its wealth of course offerings—including International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement—and its diverse learning environment, Gulliver offers myriad opportunities for students to grow. In addition, the school’s Signature Academic Programs in Architecture, Digital Mass Media, Engineering, International Business & Entrepreneurship, and International Diplomacy & Law enable students to explore potential career paths in earnest.
As demand for enrollment has grown, Gulliver has become increasingly competitive and well-regarded over the last five years. Addressing the boom in applications, Gulliver Preparatory School President Cliff Kling stated in an interview with Forbes: “For almost 100 years, Gulliver Preparatory School has been the school of choice for families seeking an excellent and personalized education for the whole family designed to fulfill each child’s potential. The demand for a Gulliver education is at an all-time high. Each of the last four years has set a new record high for applications. Our enrollment capacity across all grades has not changed; therefore, we only have the same limited spaces available even as applications continue to increase each year. The students applying represent a broad range of family circumstances: long-time Miami families, families relocating from out of state, and families from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, as we recently expanded financial aid to include grades PK-5.”
Whether you have just moved to South Florida or are considering joining the many who already have, there are plenty of good options for your student’s education—both private and public. But if your family is considering private school as the best fit for your student, the competitive and highly regarded programs at each of these schools have much to offer students with high ambitions.