Choosing a Private School Beyond the Name

July 15, 2016

The Big Apple is full of equally big names, and this certainly applies to its schools. Famed private schools are in abundance around the city, and many are often ranked by their level of prestige. Many parents pay close attention to these lists, hoping to get their children into one of the "Baby Ivy" establishments. Yet, although there may be some merit to a school's place in the ranks, it's important to look beneath the surface and find a school that is right for your child.


If you've got your list of desired schools, you’re already off to a great start! Still, it’s important to research each school carefully and make sure that it is a good fit for your child in all aspects. Here are some tips for making a successful choice:


Know your child’s needs before you start to compare schools.

Although many private schools in New York City offer the same prestige level, they do not all offer the same resources or have the same strengths. Having a clear idea of your top priorities will ensure that you select a practical choice for your child’s education. These priorities can include specific academic opportunities, learning needs, school location, abundant extracurricular options, and more.  After all must-haves are met, focus on more unnecessary desires to decide which is the all-around best choice. Using this system will make weeding through all the choices faster and easier, and help you see beyond status or beauty alone.


Look into the school’s basic operations.

When researching your options, be careful not to overlook information such as a school’s academic calendar, its goals and foundational philosophy, teaching styles, disciplinary system, health resources, parental involvement groups, and more. These are qualifiers that are often forgotten about but are hugely important to be familiar with in order to determine if a school aligns with your family’s beliefs and needs.


Tour the schools.

It’s important to see the school grounds in person. Try to get a feel for the atmosphere and layout of the school, and ask questions about what else the institution has to offer. Take this time to observe how the staff interacts with each other and with students. Ask yourself, “Would my child be comfortable here?” Someone may swear by a school, but when you see it with your own eyes, it simply may not be for you.

After taking these steps, if you still have any uncertainty, ask around! Your friends or family members who have had or currently have students enrolled in any of your final choices can provide valuable insight into whether a school might be beneficial to your child. If you’re lacking personal reviews like these, check out parent forums online or even consider hiring an educational consultant to help you make the right choice. And of course, come see us at Bright Kids for the examination side of entry prep! Happy hunting!

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