Private high schools in the United States have a long history, with some opening even before the creation of the United States. The Roman Catholic Church opened private schools in Florida and Louisiana in the 18th century, while in New York (formerly known as New Amsterdam), the Dutch West India Company and the Dutch Reformed Church established private schools to fill the void left by the lack of a formal education system in the colonies. To remain competitive, private schools have shifted from promoting themselves as the only option to presenting their education as the best option. GreatSchools is a leading non-profit organization that provides high-quality information to support parents looking for excellent education for their children, schools striving for excellence, and communities working to reduce educational disparities.
Given the rigorous demands of the college admissions process and the pressure to attend the right school, parents (usually those with means) often consider private schools for their children. California law (California Education Code Section 33190) requires private schools that offer or provide instruction at the elementary or secondary level to file an affidavit annually with the CDE. Historically, private schools have catered to America's most elite, with expensive tuition fees and legacy admissions ensuring socio-economic exclusivity for students. To this day, private high schools are seen as a fast track to admission to elite universities.
The Private School Directory and Affidavit information on this page only includes private schools with enrollments of six or more students reported in their PSA. For other lists of private schools, such as elementary or secondary schools or closed schools, use the advanced search function of the California School Directory. A list of the smallest public high schools in California according to total student enrollment can also be found.