​Private School Rankings – Why We Don’t Rank Schools

What’s The Best Boarding School?

The best boarding school for your child is the school where they feel the most at home.

At least once a week, we get a request to rank our schools. Where does school X fall on the list? What about school Y?

We always answer, “Please ignore private school rankings.” Why? Because rankings are simply inaccurate. They can never capture and convey the nuances that make each boarding school unique.

A number of private schools place high numbers of students in competitive colleges and benefit from large endowments. However, the idea of ranking independent schools from the best to the worst completely misses the bigger picture – which is the school that is the best fit for your child.

Things to Consider Instead:

  1. Think about and determine the kind of environment where your child will thrive. What types of academic programs, learning support, athletics or activities does your student need?
  2. What is their passion? Which school can offer in-depth exposure on that topic and propel your child in a way that his/her current school simply can’t do? Where do they feel they can thrive with just a bit more time and attention from interested teachers?
  3. Compose a list of questions that you want to ask at each school you visit. Often campus visits and interviews can be lively, with lots of information coming your way. A written list will help you remember the things you want to ask about, and then you’re able to compare answers across several school visits.
  4. Develop a list of wants and needs, but keep your minds open to other possibilities you haven’t even thought of. Every school has programming that is specific to them and makes that educational experience unique. It might be the kind of campus the school has, or the balance of international and domestic students.
  5. Visit all the school websites of schools you like. Check out their social media pages to better understand a day in the life of students at each school and the tenor and tone each school presents.
  6. Visit several boarding school campuses and ask the admissions officers all the questions you have. Ask multiple people at each campus the same question to understand how answers align or vary. Some questions you might consider asking are:
    1. What kinds of students go to this school?
    2. Does a student like mine do well here?
    3. What kinds of kids don’t succeed here?
    4. What support systems are in place in case my child needs help early on or throughout their years here?
    5. How involved can I be as a parent throughout their years here?
    6. What makes this school so special?
    7. What do alumni of this school say about their experiences here?
  7. A school application is used for many reasons, one of the most important being fit. Is this school a good match for my son or daughter? Does this school fit our child’s abilities and provide what he/she needs to be successful not just now, but in college and in life.

So, at the end of the day, school rankings have little influence regarding the fit you and your child will feel on different campuses. The most important thing is digging deeply to determine – to your best ability – if a school fits your child’s needs and wants and provides the environment where he/she will thrive.