For many parents, their children’s education is as important as anything else. Especially in New York City, finding the right school for your child means touring many locations and neighborhoods. Since districts control public schools, relocating could place your child in a less than desirable school atmosphere. Consider these tips to find the best educational outlet in the area of your choice.
Research on the NCES
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides prospective home-buyers with data for state school districts. If you’re relocating or looking for the best school option after a move, remember that the School District Mapping and Demographics allows users to find graduation rates, state-level assessment results, household demographics, and the average real estate costs.
Just select your state, the most recent year, and choose any district to find the relevant information.
Tour Public Schools
While touring homes in a specific area, it’s helpful to include school visits in the itinerary. When preparing for a particular real estate tour, search the schools in that specific area. Then plan to visit all the schools listed, the public school assigned to that neighborhood, or any of specific interest. Open houses and guided tours prove ideal to decide on the best schools for a child. If visiting during a school-day, ask administrators, students, and parents questions so you can get a full grasp of the school environment.
Apply to Prep or Private Schools
Image via Flickr by Meng Tian
While districts assign public schools to specific areas, some alternative schools don’t bar students because of home location. Consider applying to prep schools, private institutions, boarding schools, or charter/alternative schools if you’re unsatisfied with the local public school offerings or interested in well-reviewed alternative schools that have a particular style of teaching.
Still touring these schools or academies and their surrounding neighborhoods, especially if commute proves troublesome. Otherwise, consider the costs and mileage if you’re driving your children to school, or research the costs of a subway commute.
Due to the competitiveness of private or prep schools, most schools schedule an interview and tour of the campus for the same day; make sure to come prepared with questions and aim to impress. Many jump hurdles just to get into these private schools, often overlooking the process of finding a convenient home.
Get the Parent Down-Low
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Visiting a school isn’t always enough to set a mind at ease. It helps to hear how other parents respond to a specific school and area. On various real-estate blogs and school review websites, it’s easy to find parents and current residents in districts chiming in on any positive notes or issues they experienced with a school or its location. Try attending a school board meeting to get a feel for how the school operates. Find the schedule of meetings on the district website.
Whether looking at competitive prep schools or top-rated public schools, there’s a comfortable compromise for every family. Lock in excellent education for your little geniuses without sacrificing a healthy home life.