Choosing a School: Comparing Schools

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Choosing a School: Comparing Schools
Comparing schools is easier when you use a spreadsheet to develop your initial list of schools. Here's how.

At some point in the process of choosing schools for your child, you will have to engage in the exercise of comparing certain criteria. As much as private schools can be compared – for they really can't be compared – you still need to keep track of basic information that matters to you and your consultant.

This video explains how to use Google Spreadsheets.

Basics like tuition costs, acceptance rate, and dress code which matter to you should be part of the spreadsheet you set up to compare schools. We are using three schools for the purposes of this illustration. But you probably will want to have as many as 10-15 schools in your first group. Once that is done you can begin eliminating the schools that don't suit your requirements as you begin to develop a short list of schools to visit and examine more closely.

Where do you get the data? It's very easy to find on this site. On the splash page near the top is a drop-down menu titled Comparisons. Choose any criterion you like. Then click on schools that interest you. All the data you need is listed for you in each school's profile.

Here's an example of what your spreadsheet could look like. We have chosen basic data but you can list whatever criteria matter to you in the first column of the spreadsheet.

ExeterAndoverHotchkiss
Number of Students10621100595
School TypeCoeducationalCoeducationalCoeducational
Size of Campus619 acres500 acres810 acres
Year Founded178117781891
% Students Boarding80%93%92%
% Faculty with Advanced Degrees83%73%63%
Dress CodeFormalCasualFormal
Acceptance Rate17%17%20%
Number of Sports202322
Number of Extracurricular Activities1128939
Tuition$38,720$39,900$41,885
Endowment$850 million$770 million$382 million
Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid48%44%36%
Religious AffiliationNon-denominationalNon-denominationalNondenominational
Admissions DeadlineJanuary 15February 1January 15

The other thing which you will begin to appreciate as you create your spreadsheet is that these are just facts. Numbers. Statistics. They are meaningless unless you visit the schools and get a feel for what they are like.



Nonetheless, this part of the search process is very important because it forces you to make some choices. Much as you'd like to, you simply cannot visit every school on your large, initial list. By the time your consultant looks at it and shakes her head at some of your choices, you will realize that there is much more to choosing the right school than just looking at the websites and glossy catalogs.

One final word of advice: start your search no later than the spring 16-18 months before admission. This is a huge project. You don't want to leave it to the last minute.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @boardingschoolreview

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