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Finding the Best High School in New York City

Authored By: 
George Higgins, Headmaster

Everyone wants the best, naturally. Especially when it comes to education. So how can you find the “best” school?

Let me guess; you started your high school search on the Internet. If you type in a few keywords like “best NYC high schools” or “top Manhattan private high schools,” you probably found a nice list of possible options. But did you really find the best high school for you?

There are many nuances that differentiate one school from another and, just like the college admissions process, identifying the right school for you may not always be what people consider being the “Ivy League” category of private schools.

As a headmaster for over 25 years, I’ve worked with students and their families from just about every private boarding and day school within commuting distance to us. I’ve had numerous conversations about why a particular school wasn’t a good fit for the student and, from those discussions, I’ve learned that it isn’t always about how a school ranks in the hierarchy of a published list or word-of-mouth.

Too often, the qualities that make you and the school unique are forfeited for the sake of image. A high ranking doesn’t necessarily make a student happy, and a happy student will perform better and achieve more than a student who feels out-of-place or alienated. Consider listing the qualities of your ideal day at school: curriculum, class size, schedule, teachers, extracurricular activities, and overall school climate. Now, compare that list to what you find on each school’s website. At this point, which school looks like the best?

Parents always participate actively in the search and choice of a school, and for good reason. Parental involvement and wisdom are essential for the academic success of students. However, how many times does a parent’s list of school qualities match a student’s list?  After all, it’s you who will be spending all of the time at that school, so make sure that you have a say in the decision-making process.

Parents, students, and admissions professionals should work together to understand what is best for that student and then decide if that profile matches the school’s image. Now you’ve found the best school!