The New York City school system is very complicated, and many parents find themselves considering whether or not to send their child to a school outside of their immediate neighborhood - regardless of whether they’re considering a private or public school. While the easiest path may seem to be attending the local public school, it’s not always possible for a student to attend the school they’re zoned for due to neighborhood population changes, school popularity, and public school application processes. For whatever reason, you may wind up assessing a school in a different neighborhood or borough than your own. There are many questions to consider when evaluating a school outside of your neighborhood, including:
The two most common topics of conversation we discuss with families around out-of-neighborhood schooling are transportation and the varied lifestyle that a farther-flung school can provide.
Your student’s ability to actually reach their school is the most important factor in considering a non-local option. Ideally, the out-of-neighborhood school you’re considering offers bus transportation that can safely ferry your child to and from school. That bus option might be via the Metropolitan Transit Authority, who partners with the NYC Department of Education to ensure that all NYC students (regardless of public or private school) can access bus transportation. Certain independent schools may offer other bussing or carpool options - check the websites of any schools you’re considering to assess whether they offer additional transportation support, and whether the pickup locations are workable from your home.
Outside of bussing or school-provided carpooling, you may consider sending your older student to school on the subway. Subway transportation usually isn’t appropriate for students younger than high school age, and may still be too much responsibility for students in their early high school years. But as your child grows into their mid-teens, you might consider whether they’re mature enough to take the subway alone. Ultimately, that decision is up to your family.
Outside of factors like availability and school fit, one of the main benefits that some parents see in sending their child to an out-of-neighborhood school is the varied lifestyle that those schools can provide. For example, your child might benefit from the geographical diversity of the student body at a school that’s farther away: they might meet students from a wider variety of backgrounds, which is often good for a student’s development. Schools further away from your home also might offer more of a “campus” setting with more outdoor space, which can be a big draw for families living in the middle of Manhattan. In general, the new experiences offered by attending a school farther away from home can boost students’ independence and maturity, which are great traits to develop in advance of college.
As educational consultants, we always encourage families to consider schools that best fit their child’s unique personality and academic needs. This often means applying to schools outside of the neighborhood the family currently lives in. If you’re interested in learning about schools farther away from your home, don’t hesitate to reach out - we’d be happy to learn more about your student and family and provide our advice on your best-fit NYC schools.