School Choice

How to Choose the Best School in NYC for Your Family

How to Choose the Best School in NYC for Your Family
October 28, 2022

Your family has completed all applications, every school on your list has been toured, and you’ve written all your thank you notes. The waiting game has begun! Soon enough, you’ll be hearing back from schools and making the final decision on which is the best school in NYC for your family. 

Many parents anticipate applying to be the most challenging part of the admissions process. Ultimately, selecting the best school can actually be just as difficult as submitting applications. But fear not: we’re here to help, and we’ve outlined how we recommend approaching the decision. 

Choosing the Best School in NYC: Self-Reflection

At Admit NY, we believe that taking a pause to reflect on what you and your family are truly looking for is the most important step of the entire admissions process. There are many questions you can ask yourself to assess what your genuine priorities are when choosing a school. 

(Side note: if you’re applying to kindergarten or nursery school, you’ll be conducting a self-reflection as a parent, in concert with any other parents/guardians. But if your child is older, it’s a great idea to involve them in this process, too: it’s a great way for them to practice thoughtfulness and decision-making.) 

Start with these self-evaluation questions to begin choosing the best school in NYC for your family: 

  • What are your family’s top priorities? 
  • What, if any, are your non-negotiables?
  • What is your kid’s learning style: how do they best process information? 
  • What are your child's academic strengths, and areas for growth?
  • What is your child’s personality, and what type of community and culture would best set them up for success?
  • What are your child’s extracurricular passions and interests?
  • Is there a school philosophy that resonates with your family? 

On the note of school philosophy: we’re often asked how to discern differences in “philosophy” between schools that may seem similar on the surface. It’s true that many schools have a lot of overlap in their overall approach to teaching, but there are also many small differences that can impact your student’s experience. We recommend keeping an eye out for factors like: 

  • Layout of desks within classrooms (individual, groups, etc.)
  • Uniforms/dress code
  • Group work versus independent work
  • Calling the teacher by their first name versus Mr./Mrs
  • Shared/open learning space versus individual classrooms
  • Standard curriculum or more experiential/project-based
  • Typical homework expectations
  • Presence of student-led activities or experiences
  • Parental involvement expectations
  • Single-sex vs. co-ed
  • Religious programming

In addition to these more open-ended questions, we recommend reflecting on practical realities like cost, distance from home, transportation options, class size, diversity, and other important factors. 

If you need more guidance to understand the impact of various factors on a school’s fit with your family, we recommend speaking with your child’s teacher, or connecting with admissions experts like Admit NY. Seeking a range of opinions, particularly from trained educators or administrators that know your child well, can be a significant help in choosing the best school in NYC for your child. 

Choosing the Best School in NYC: Wrapping Up the Admissions Process

Self-reflection and evaluation is the most important step at the end of your admissions journey, but you’ll also need to handle the logistical steps that are required at this stage. We recommend thinking about the end of the process as three Rs: 

  • Results: Schools that are members of the Independent School Admission Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY) adhere to a standard set of notification deadlines. In the days leading up to receiving your decision, try to stay calm!
  • Re-Visit: After you’ve received admissions offers from a set of schools, they’ll usually invite you to re-visit events to help you make your final evaluation. These take place in the days or weeks following admissions notifications. We highly recommend making time to attend these events to continue deepening your understanding of the best learning environment for your unique child. 
  • Return: Once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to return your contract to your school of choice! At this point, you’ve officially finished your admissions journey - congratulations. 

If the decision process is becoming as stressful as the application process, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re happy to learn more about your student and family, and provide our expert guidance on the best school in NYC for your specific situation. Best of luck choosing the perfect school for your child!