We have been asked over and over, "Which is the best school or schools in New York City?" After 20 years collectively as educators and admissions experts, we can confidently say the best school in NYC is the one that best fits your child.
The myth of a "top-tier" school is just that -- a myth. The important thing about a school is not that it gets listed in certain "elite" publications, but how that school can cater to your child's needs and how he/she can be successful during their academic life. We have seen families that have pushed their children into school situations that were too academic when their child needed more nurturing or too progressive when their child needed more structure. We have watched these children struggle when they did not have to. New York City has some of the best, most diverse schools in the world, schools that can cater to different learning styles, sensibilities and needs.
It is important to look at your family and its values when thinking about a school that is the right fit -- especially when your child is young and has not shown the type of learner or student that he or she will be. Each school has values of their own. A good fit is one that matches. For example, things like diversity, the arts, child-centered vs. teacher led instruction and teaching ethics are all elements of an education that might come into play. Just as important, and sometimes more, you need to ask yourself: What type of learner is my child? What kind of environment will make them feel most comfortable, challenge them, yet let them be successful?
What qualities does it take to qualify as a top school? Is it about how many number of students in a particular school go to Ivy League colleges? Is it about how successful are the students from a certain school in their adult lives? How do you even measure success...Wealth? Happiness? The question has so many dimensions as do the answers depending on the audience.
As admissions consultants, as well as educators, we urge you to look beyond outside influences, playground gossip and herd mentality. Your focus should be on your children, who they are and what would serve them best in their academic endeavors. There are many schools out there, each with its own unique bent. The admissions process can be grueling, and is hard enough to get an acceptance to one school. It makes it much easier if you look at those schools that really fit your child.