List of Pros and Cons of School Uniforms

Public schools nationwide are beginning to institute a student uniform policy. They do so with the belief that student behavior and performance are improved by the change. While standardized clothing is becoming a hot topic for debate, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of school uniforms.

List of Pros of School Uniforms

1. Academic Performance
It a common belief among educators that students who are all clad in the same uniform tend to perform better from an academic standpoint. Notre Dame conducted a study several years ago that determined students who wore uniforms performed slightly better than those who did not. Students who are mandated to wear uniforms are able to spend less time focusing on what they are wearing and dedicate more time to their studies.

Student uniforms remove the distracting element of wondering about what you will wear or what other students are wearing. They set the tone for the school that learning is the most important thing and everything else comes secondary. It is also believed that student attendance is improved and tardiness decreases, since students spend much less time selecting clothes.

2. Behavioral Improvements
Students who wear uniforms tend to be much better behaved while they are in the school’s environment. When uniforms are worn, this leads to a stricter overall atmosphere, where students feel less comfortable acting out. Rules are much more likely to be adhered to. The United States Department Of Education firmly believes that students who wear uniforms are much less prone to acts of violence.

3. Social Interaction
It’s no secret, children can be cruel to one another, especially when it comes to clothing and fashion decisions. Children often ridicule each other about their clothing, especially those from more well-heeled families. When clothing is a primary form of self-expression, this leads to an increase in cliques.

Since choosing clothing is such a pressure packed decision in the school environment, instituting uniforms takes all of the guesswork out of the equation. It removes any pressure that a student may feel to fit in and reduces the opportunity for tormentors to make fun of their clothing.

4. Economic Impact
Parents no longer have to feel pressured to purchase expensive clothes for their children. Instead of doling out cash for designer jeans and fancy sneakers, the costs associated with a yearly uniform purchase are much easier to swallow. Once the initial outlay of cash for the uniforms is complete, a parent’s financial responsibility is essentially taken care of.

List of Cons of School Uniforms

1. Less Self Expression
For many children, choosing the clothes that they wear to school is one of their most treasured opportunities to express their true personality. Sociological observers have noted that mandating uniforms significantly reduces a child’s ability to express themselves and may stifle their personal development.

It is believed by many that taking away a child’s freedom to choose their own clothing can lead to more harmful forms of self-expression, or ones that are much less appropriate. A child who is forced to wear a uniform may decide to express their individuality by wearing gaudy jewelry or applying excessive amounts of makeup.

2. Individuality Stripped Away
When public educators attempt to dress all of their students in the same uniform, this strategy often works on children who already fit into a certain mold. There are certain students who are able to go with the flow and do not believe in rocking the boat. But this decision does not always suit a student who prides themselves on being an individual.

Forcing every student into the same mold can have its pitfalls. A more progressive minded student will view these mandates a way for school administrators to take away one of the few forms of self-expression that they have available to them. There are experts who believe that forcing students to conform can be harmful to their long term development. It has been argued that uniform mandates do not adequately prepare students for life in the real world, where appearance is important.

3. Cost
Cost can be considered as both a pro and a con. Parents do not always end up saving money in the long run. Students still require clothing to be worn on nights and weekends, which can sometimes lead to parents spending more money overall, once uniform costs have been factored into the equation.

Depending on the school the child attends and the uniforms that they select for students to wear, purchasing them can become quite expensive. Some financial experts argue that uniforms are a sunk cost, because the child has no opportunity to wear them in any other context.

4. Maturity Concerns
There is a school of thought that believes mandated uniforms can slow down a child’s development and impeded their progress into adulthood. This is particularly true of teenage students. A teenager’s self-expression and ability to display their individuality are very important to them. Studies have shown that the benefits of uniforms are typically nullified once the child leaves middle school.

School uniforms, on paper, are a great choice for school administrators who wish to improve student attendance, behavior and foster a positive learning environment. On the other hand, they stifle individuality and can slow down a child’s overall development. Each school district must consider all of these factors and make an informed decision based on their own research.