Choosing a School: Comparing Schools

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Choosing a School: Comparing Schools
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 which matters to you and to your consultant.
 
This video explains how to use Google Spreadsheets.

Basics like tuition costs, acceptance rate, dress code which matter to you should be part of the spreadsheet you set up to compare schools. We are using three schools for 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 to eliminate the schools which 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 which 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.
 
Exeter
Andover
Hotchkiss
Number of Students
1062
1100
595
School Type
Coeducational
Coeducational
Coeducational
Size of Campus
619 acres
500 acres
810 acres
Year Founded
1781
1778
1891
% Students Boarding
80%
93%
92%
% Faculty with Advanced Degree
83%
73%
63%
Dress Code
Formal
Casual
Formal
Acceptance Rate
17%
17%
20%
Number of Sports
20
23
22
Number of Extracurricular Activities
112
89
39
Tuition
$38,720
$39,900
$41,885
Endowment
$850 million
$770 million
$382 million
Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid
48%
44%
36%
Religious Affiliation
Non-denominational
Non-denominational
Nondenominational
Admissions Deadline
January 15
February 1
January 15

The other thing which you will begin to appreciate as you create your spreadsheet is that these are just facts. Numbers. Statistics. They really are meaningless unless you visit the schools and get a feel for what they are really 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 begin to realize that there is much more to the process of 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 Twitter. @boardingschoolreview


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