Many parents assume that selecting a private school is like shopping for shoes. All they have to do is Google schools and somehow all the data and information they need will be at their fingertips. Not exactly.
You can't enter 8th grade in Google and see which school offers it for the lowest price. That's because each private school is unique. It has unique programs and features which are not easily compared with other private schools. The facilities, the teaching staff and the atmosphere are unique to that particular school.
That's why my answer to parents asking me which is the best school in Boston is vague. I'll dodge the bullet by replying "Well, it depends. What are you looking for in a school?" Only once they specify their requirements can I or any other educational consultant give them a list of schools which will fit their requirements.
Defining the Best Fit
Let's define fit as how a school measures up to your requirements and expectations. You can get a fairly good idea of what schools offer by examining their websites in detail. Most schools try to answer your questions on their websites. The problem with looking at websites is that you see only what they want you to see. How do you find out the real story? You can ask questions. Better yet, hire an educational consultant whose business it is to know those facts.
Fit is something which you and your child have to agree on yourselves. What are you both really looking for? Have that discussion with your child. Understand what you both want. Then you will be half way to choosing the best school for both of you.
The next thing you have to do is to visit the school. Even better, attend a class or two or have your child spend an overnight if it is a boarding school. You'll get plenty of answers fast. How your child reacts to the student guides and the admissions interview will signal what kind of a fit the school will be.
It's All About Your Child's Happiness
Choosing the best school is all about finding that one special school where your child will be happy. Of course you want her to have the opportunity of getting into a good university. But the truth is that she won't get into any university unless she succeeds in high school. And she won't succeed in high school unless she is happy.
What could be more subjective than your child's happiness? It has nothing to do with test scores and all those other unquantifiable benchmarks. Your child's happiness has everything to do with getting the fit right. That's what choosing the best school is all about.