Step 4 - VISIT: Page 5

The Even Shorter List

This page covers:

  • A simple step-by-step process to help those having a difficult time figuring out which schools to pursue

Feeling overwhelmed at this point? If after you’ve visited the school you still feel like you’re all over the map – literally and figuratively – with your school selection process, try thinking both intuitively and analytically about the schools you’ve seen:

First, take a gut-level read:

Take a simple measure of your enthusiasm for each school you’re considering on a purely instinctual level.  What was the vibe in the halls?  Did you feel happy to be there?  Did the school feel dynamic, personal, inspired?  You will find that like meeting people at a cocktail party, some schools will make you smile more than others.  Listen to that – what you are picking up is the same energy that your child will feel everyday, which counts for a lot! 

Second, revisit your priorities:

Go back to that list that you made of what you most want in a school.  Have any of those priorities shifted after you’ve toured schools and glimpsed what’s out there?  If so, adjust your list and size up each school in relation to those priorities.  Chart it out.  One mathematical and analytical friend created a spread sheet listing what she was looking for in a school in the first column.  She then listed the three schools being considered at the top of each column across and then gave a numbered score (1-5) for each desired criteria.  In the end, she could calculate an average score for each school. Another friend compared her pros and cons list for each school being considered. 

Third, talk to people, if you haven’t already:

If you haven’t gone to the source, now is the time.  The good news is that people love to talk about their schools, even to strangers.  Chat folks up in the park, in the grocery stores, on parent blogs.  Get the inside scoop.  Woven in these conversations are the real story about what works and what doesn’t at a particular school.

Finally, throw in your hard data, shake it up with some intuition and wave your magic wand:

Okay, except for the magic wand part, this is pretty much what you do.  You make your comparisons, list the pros & cons, and talk it over with your partner.  This should lead to a list of schools, however short or long, made up of some combination of lottery choices, applications for private, and a neighborhood school.

Note: How did others deal with all the uncertainty? Follow one west side family's search here; as well as this example from an east side family.

Hopefully you’re in a somewhat settled place with your vetted list of schools.  Creating this list is only the battle, though.  You still have to gain admission somewhere.  So, assuming there’s more on your list than your neighborhood school, then read on to the Take Action section to strategize your next steps.

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