Evaluating Schools

Here we’ll provide you with information on evaluating boarding schools. From comparing schools to identifying language and sports programs, our articles will help you make an informed decision. Learn the best approach to compare schools, get tips on creating a spreadsheet, and determine where to find the data.
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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.
 ExeterAndover
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I Can't Find Any Rankings!
This cry is heard throughout the land as parents try desperately to compare one boarding school against another.
"I can't find any rankings!" "Which is the best boarding school in Massachusetts?" Hardly a day goes by without somebody asking about rankings of boarding schools. I know that you are trying to figure out how one boarding school compares with another so that you can choose the one which is best for your child. You probably even have tried looking for a site which ranks schools. Well, good luck! If you find one, let me know. There is no ranking system for boarding schools that I know of. 
 
Try it yourself. Google "boarding school rankings" or "ranking boarding schools" and review the results. Yes, you will find several lists of "the best schools." However, what are the criteria used to select those schools? Maybe some of them are a good fit for your requirements. Maybe not. So, let's look at the reasons why this is the case.
 
1. Boarding schools are unique

This is the main reason why it is impossible to rank boarding schools. Each school is unique. Each school does its own thing.  Schools are overseen and managed by trustees and faculty who have a particular point of view. For example, a Jesuit boarding school such as Georgetown Prep has a quite different approach to curriculum and teaching than The Putney School does. Yes, as you look at schools, you can compare basic criteria such as the number of students, what they teacher and the sports programs which they offer.

The broad strokes of the program

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Evaluating Schools