Step 4 - VISIT: Page 1

Creating the Short List


This page covers:

  • Tips on cutting down your school list to a manageable size

So you have your eye on a list of schools, now what?  If you are like several busy mamas we know, touring every school on the list can make your head spin – or be next to impossible with your schedule. 

Note: What does a school search look like? It might start out like this, even a year before kindergarten. You can follow one west side family's search here; as well as this example from an east side family.

How Many Schools to Visit

If you are the über-thorough parent, you could be looking at 10 (or more) schools over the course of a few months.  Or maybe there are only 2 or 3 that could draw you away from your neighborhood school?  Or perhaps there is the one and only school you are banking on (which we don’t recommend, by the way. Nothing like putting all your eggs in one basket only to get yolk splattered all over your face). The school tour, application process (for privates), the data gathering from parents, etc. can be exhausting so it’s only reasonable to narrow the list to a manageable size.  And in case you missed it before – if you are looking at a Focus Option school in PPS, or a charter school, you will be required to go on the tour and sign a Statement of Understanding.  You cannot make a last-minute lottery panic-selection if you didn’t complete a tour.

How to Narrow the List

Assuming you’ve already scoured all the online data points about your schools of interest, the best way to further narrow down your choices is to talk to people who are part of those schools’ communities.  Getting their insight is a must-do in our opinion, as you will also learn what to keep a closer eye on when you’re touring.  Sometimes what you hear will make you do a 180.  For example, you might be pre-sold on a particular immersion program only to find when talking to parents that most of the teachers are not native speakers, which is a deal-breaker for you.  Or perhaps you are ready to drop a school because the commute seems like it’s too much – but then you learn that the parents from your neighborhood have an incredibly organized carpooling network.  The real gems of information don’t come from a slick one-sheet touting a school’s strong points, but from those people whose kids are reaping the rewards (we hope) from attending the schools – the parents.

If you know that your schedule won’t allow you to visit all the acceptable schools on your list, then you need to get it to a manageable size.  Look over your choices and see if you can find any deal breakers (distance, cost, or other criteria). Put those at the bottom of the list and focus on the top choices.  Start thinking about who you know, or how you can find people who will give you the inside scoop.  Then read on…

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