Is Your Private School ‘Network’ Really Worth $500,000 over 12 Years?

Is the network that private school offers worth the tuition fees?

I hear this argument all the time from advocates of private school, however as a product of the public school system, I don’t know how true it is.

What I do know is that in 2024, in a world where we are all connected online, it has never been easier to build relationships with almost anybody you want.

I didn’t go to private school, but I did record 433 episodes of my podcast which connected me with top tier entrepreneurs, authors, investors, media personalities, and entertainers.

I didn’t go to private school but I sent thousands of messages to people that I wanted to connect with on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, and had Zoom calls and coffees with hundreds of them.

I didn’t go to private school but I did attend lots of events and conferences where I got to rub shoulders with high profile folks.

I didn’t go to private school, but I did write hundreds of articles that generated millions of views over the years.

I didn’t need permission to do these things.
There was no velvet rope, nor gatekeeper.
There were no exorbitant fees.
I just decided to do them and followed through.

As a result, I’ve built a solid network, one that’s helped me raise capital, get book deals, sell five and six-figure deals to numerous ASX200 companies, speak on stages all over the globe, and so much more.

In fact, my network is significantly larger than my private school alumni friends.

Is spending $500,000 over the K-12 lifecycle really worth it for “the network” in 2024 when there are so many easier, cheaper and faster ways to not only build a network, but to build one that is global and full of people that are aligned with your professional goals?

The financial opportunity cost of private school?

Private school in Australia and most western countries can cost about $50,000 pa.

The ASX (and the S&P500) has returned an average of 8–10% pa over the past 20 years.

Assuming 8% holds true, if you sent your kid to public school and instead invested that $50K a year into an ASX index fund, it would be worth over a million by the time said kid graduates from Year 12.

And if you let it then simply compound without making additional deposits until they’re 30 before giving it to them?

It would be worth $2.7M (or $2M in today’s terms adjusted for 3% annual inflation).

Consider that formal education continues to lag behind the rate of technological advancement and might be rendered a lot less valuable by the time 2050 comes around.

So which do you go for, an almost guaranteed $2.7M and financial security in your kid’s pocket by the time they turn 30 at a relatively conservative compound growth rate, or the marginal benefits and ‘network’ that private school is said to provide?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Steve Glaveski is the founder of innovation accelerator Collective Campus, content agency Sonic Boom, author of Time Rich , host of the Future Squared podcast, and frequently contributes to Harvard Business Review.

Find him on Twitter at @steveglaveski or LinkedIn.