How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

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SeekingBogle
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by SeekingBogle » Tue May 15, 2018 5:35 pm

I've received so much feedback from this site. Thanks to everyone for chiming in. Hopefully, this thread is useful to other Bogleheads in our position. Do feel free to continue to share your experiences, but I just wanted to express my gratitude.

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queso
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by queso » Tue May 15, 2018 5:45 pm

SeekingBogle wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 5:33 pm
queso wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 2:53 pm
+1 to all the posters who questioned the GS rating system. We used to live in a school district that was 9's and 10's K-12. Now we're in a district that is 7, 8 and 6. Did we move? No. Same house. Did several years elapse and the schools went downhill? No. The interval is a few months. So what happened? GS changed their rating system and now count "equity" and other non-academic metrics as part of the overall rating. Just do some drilling down into the data before making up your mind about whether or not a lower rating is actually deserved or if your child(ren) are likely to be impacted by whatever the perceived GS deficiency is.
Gotcha! I think the raw data for our choices is actually more telling than the score. We are zoned to this school (https://www.greatschools.org/texas/hous ... ry-School/), and we're thinking of moving to a home in this school zone (https://www.greatschools.org/texas/cypr ... ry-School/). Check out the state test scores.
Yup.. interesting, eh? Our elementary school that slid all the way to a 7 GS score has test scores all in the 90s...it's just not doing well in the equity categories (2's). Our high school (now a 6 GS rating) only has 2 scores in the 80s and all the others 95s, 97s and 98s (but has a 2 in equity). :(

retired recently
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by retired recently » Wed May 16, 2018 6:47 am

The problem I have seen with rankings of K-12 schools is that it does not show how well the schools will challenge accelerated kids. As with the SAT math, the state tests have compressed top student scores and there is a ceiling. We have seen many kids that are ready for additional challenges that do not get them.

I would certainly not want to put my child in a "pressure-cooker" but many of the top schools that actually challenge the kids have very happy students. The ones that struggle should not be in these schools in the first place but are pushed there by their parents.

Bacchus01
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Bacchus01 » Wed May 16, 2018 7:24 am

Great Schools is a great tool to help you narrow down some options. Most districts then have reports that show detailed data. In the Milwaukee metro there is a report that shows all the high schools with key statistics: enrollment, % receiving reduced or free lunch, minority stats, average SAT and ACT scores, # of AP courses offered, % going to college, etc. there is also a public ranking of school districts and high schools across the state. Wisconsin is known for great public schools.

Like others have said, visit the schools! We never met one that wasn’t happy to show us around. We went to one grade school that was brand new and tons of technology with every K-6 student having a laptop, etc. it was awesome, but the reviews of the actual teachers was just so-so based on our network of contacts.

Ultimately we found that there was one particular cluster of schools in one particular area and athletic conference that had 7 of the top 10 HS in the state. We picked probably the lowest cost, most middle-class to blue collar area in that cluster, but moved into what was then the most affluent neighborhood in that town.

We have been very very happy.

One thing to really dig into is the details. One of the things we don’t like is that if you have young kids in our area that are at one end of the spectrum or the other (special needs or gifted) the district does a poor job of accommodating them. The district is set up to take the middle 50th percentile and make them stars. That obviously works for the broadest group, but my oldest son went from a prior school district that had an entire grade school class of gifted students to a largely nonexistent program. Our younger two would also likely qualify except there is no program available. We have to drive a lot of extracurricular mental stimulation. But, our district send 97% of kids to college (yes, 97%) and average ACT scores are the second highest in the state. We don’t have the most AP courses available, but my oldest will have taken 7 before he graduates along with 4-5 more honors level courses.

Dig into the details. Think about what it will be like long term. I think much of elementary education happens outside the classroom and HS becomes way more important for life after school.

If athletics are important to you, consider that as well.

MDfive21
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by MDfive21 » Wed May 16, 2018 8:44 am

alfaspider wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 3:59 pm
Regarding Texas: It is absolutely true that the good schools are very very good and the bad schools are horrid. In my city, the difference from being on one side of a street or another can literally be the difference between attending a super-high achieving school that sends kids to Ivies at a rate similar to high-end private schools, or attending a school where only a minority of the students graduate and go to college.
also TX related: we have an org called children at risk which ranks all schools on various measures. they do this with much more transparency and granularity than greatschools.

http://childrenatrisk.org/school-rankings/

daheld
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by daheld » Wed May 16, 2018 9:23 am

My $0.02:

I grew up in a VERY rural area. I went to a very bad school. I legitimately did not know anyone who went to a pre-school probably until I went to college. I graduated with 26 people, and I think 5 of us completed college. I had a very poor junior high/high school mathematics and science education.

But I had parents who, comparatively, were "well off"--my dad was a construction worker and my mom a school teacher. They worked hard and saved as much as they possibly could. They also read to us as kids, had high standards for getting homework completed and being a good student. Not absurdly outlandish standards, but I knew what was expected of me. And, I made it. I went to college, and I married up. My wife is much smarter and has a graduate degree in engineering. We're not jet setting across the world but we make good money. I make almost as much as she does.

We recently had this same debate. We just moved and bought a $300k home. That was about the top end of what we wanted to spend here in our LCOL city. It got us a 2100 sf home with 1400 sf of finished basement in a really great neighborhood in an average (7/10 GreatSchools rating) school district. We could've moved to another area in our city with 10/10 Great Schools rating, but our $300k budget would have gotten us a home that is 30 years older, 1200 sf in size, and in an area that I consider to be less desirable in terms of homes being close together and not having much yard space of your own.

Here's the other thing--I grew up around a bunch of very blue collar people in the country. I'm not trying to keep up with the Joneses and compare Land Rovers and private lacrosse teams. It's just not what I'm comfortable with. So, in the end, you have to do what you're comfortable with.

VonRyan
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by VonRyan » Wed May 16, 2018 11:39 am

As a previous poster noted, Greatschools isn't particularly transparent, and you can't use their rankings to compare schools over several years because their underlying methodologies change year to year.

Other things to look for: percent of children receiving free lunch, and whether there are any apartment buildings in the school boundary.

There are three variables that have a huge effect on current and future property values: quality of the local school, local crime rate, and the level of property taxes.

audioaxes
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by audioaxes » Wed May 16, 2018 1:51 pm

In my neighborhood my daughter is at a 9/10 elementary, then set to go to a 8/10 middle school, and then a 5/10 high school. We have the option to enroll her in a 8/10 high school thats further away but I think I will keep her there so she can stand out more for universities/scholarships by ranking higher in her class and possibly higher GPA. I went to bad schools in worst neighborhoods, graduated 1st in my high school and did just fine at college with classmates who I assume likely had a more rigorous K-12 background.

Bacchus01
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Bacchus01 » Wed May 16, 2018 3:08 pm

audioaxes wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 1:51 pm
In my neighborhood my daughter is at a 9/10 elementary, then set to go to a 8/10 middle school, and then a 5/10 high school. We have the option to enroll her in a 8/10 high school thats further away but I think I will keep her there so she can stand out more for universities/scholarships by ranking higher in her class and possibly higher GPA. I went to bad schools in worst neighborhoods, graduated 1st in my high school and did just fine at college with classmates who I assume likely had a more rigorous K-12 background.
I'd caution against this thought process. Schools are looking much broader and class rank is becoming almost unimportant (I said almost). There is a local High School that had SEVEN valedictorians. At my son's school they do not use weighted grading. He has taken as many honors and AP courses as he can. With a 3.85 GPA he's barely in the top 3rd of his class. Why? Because there are a BUNCH of students who took no honors or AP courses and are sitting at 4.0 GPAs. This is a district that sends 97% to college and has an average ACT of like 26.

Universities are looking at much more than GPA and class rank as they know the games that are taking place. Quality of the school and weight of the classes they've taken along with test scores are much heavier weighted than absolute GPA and class rank.

retired recently
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by retired recently » Wed May 16, 2018 4:27 pm

I would also be careful sending my kid to the lowest rated high school just to increase chances for high school. It really boils down to the individual kid. My son is a freshman at a 7/10 rated school and just finished taking AP Calc BC, AP Physics 1 and AP Comp Sci A. He gets along well with everyone and playing soccer/tennis for the school helped tremendously but he does not have many(any) academic peers. He is not challenged so we are looking at other options for him. The school is in a high SES area but academics are poor. More than likely his college choices would be greater if he stayed put but I would rather see him be challenged.

audioaxes
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by audioaxes » Wed May 16, 2018 6:17 pm

retired recently wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 4:27 pm
I would also be careful sending my kid to the lowest rated high school just to increase chances for high school. It really boils down to the individual kid. My son is a freshman at a 7/10 rated school and just finished taking AP Calc BC, AP Physics 1 and AP Comp Sci A. He gets along well with everyone and playing soccer/tennis for the school helped tremendously but he does not have many(any) academic peers. He is not challenged so we are looking at other options for him. The school is in a high SES area but academics are poor. More than likely his college choices would be greater if he stayed put but I would rather see him be challenged.
even at my bad high school (gangs, students openly smoking weed in halls,etc) I found a decent niche of about 10 classmates who were plenty sharp, took school very seriously and all the possible AP/honors classes you could get. While we were not super preppy students (I heard of cream of the crop students at a nicer high school across town who got together and self taught themselves 2 or so AP courses that were not offered at their school and passed the AP exam... we did nothing like that) it provided plenty of positive peer reinforcement and competition to help challenge me.
I would assume a 7/10 school would have many more students to help challenge your kid. I think in general after freshman year the honors/AP classes start to condense so he may start to find himself in classes with more serious students in the coming year. Im pretty sure I didnt run into all the top students at my high school in freshman year.

ThreeBears
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by ThreeBears » Wed May 16, 2018 10:58 pm

I REALLY want to emphasize what an above poster stated -- "GS changed their rating system and now count "equity" and other non-academic metrics as part of the overall rating. Just do some drilling down into the data before making up your mind about whether or not a lower rating is actually deserved or if your child(ren) are likely to be impacted by whatever the perceived GS deficiency is."

Basically, Great Schools is now worthless. They attempted to be more equity focused and give schools more credit for helping low-income and racial minority students . . . but they have done a very poor job and the results now are largely meaningless. It's very frustrating.

Great Schools used to focus on test results. While that approach has flaws, you at least know which schools has students that test well. It's a very useful initial datapoint. Now schools with a very limited number of low-income or racial minorities who do poorly receive very poor scores.

I'm in an amazing school district (some say best in the state). My local school went from a 9 to a 6 because of the new rating.

So, please pay attention. The new ratings should not be used to make ANY sort of housing decision.

snowman
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by snowman » Thu May 17, 2018 10:40 am

I never heard of greatschools, so I just went there to see how our excellent schools are rated. Wow, expected better than 5, 5 and 7! I looked deeper as this makes no sense, and the schools got really bad marks for lack of diversity, equity, and some other non-relevant stuff. Got 10/10 for college readiness. My point is GS rankings are garbage, I would not evaluate schools based on that.

I would reitarete what other posters already said: visit schools you are interested in, talk to principal, talk to teachers, sit on classes (if allowed), talk to other parents. You will find that the things other parents like (or dislike) may not pertain to your children at all. You also need to know where your kid falls academically – advanced, average, behind (main 3 groups). Each school will differ in how they treat these groups, even though they all will say that of course they care equally about all 3. Not true for the most part – that requires a lot of resources, and most school districts (even the rich ones) cannot provide equal support to all 3 groups on a consistent basis.

Both of our kids were tested as highly gifted (or whatever they called it) early on. We were moving cross-country at that time, so my wife spent a lot of time searching for the right place to buy a house. Will not go into all the details, bottom line was there were big differences in how different school districts (and even schools within a school district) handled gifted kids. What she found was (this is about 15 years back) that most schools placed higher emphasis (and more resources) into the behind group, and the gifted group was more of an afterthought (not a priority). She personally visited couple highly rated, high performing schools, and didn’t like the atmosphere in those schools – high pressure on the kids, stress on tests and academics over everything else, etc.

We liked the district where we decided to buy the most for the following reason (among others): it had specific track for gifted kids within regular neighborhood schools, from 3rd grade all the way through HS. It turned out to be absolutely wonderful experience for both of our kids as they got the best of both worlds: they had local friends with whom they participated in local sports and academic activities, yet they attended classes full of smart kids like themselves.

Now if you say “well that’s great, snowman, glad it workout out for you and your kids, but how does that pertain to my situation”? I say you are exactly right, it doesn’t! And that’s the point. You need to find the school that’s best for YOUR kids and your family, and for that I would not use greatchools website at all. It’s completely meaningless! Do what many of us suggest, and I guarantee you that you will find good educational options for your kids.

BTW, you still have time, maybe 2-3 years, so don’t stress it too much. The first 2, maybe even 3 grades are all about the teacher – you could get a great one in badly rated school, or bad one in highly rated school. That one person will make all the difference, forget the rankings. Plus you the parents are still making the main difference, so even not so good teacher at school can be overcome with parental involvement at home. But I would start searching now. You may find you already live in the best place for your kid and don't have to move at all!

I wish you good luck. It’s a great journey, you will have lots of fond memories.

stoptothink
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by stoptothink » Thu May 17, 2018 10:56 am

audioaxes wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 6:17 pm
retired recently wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 4:27 pm
I would also be careful sending my kid to the lowest rated high school just to increase chances for high school. It really boils down to the individual kid. My son is a freshman at a 7/10 rated school and just finished taking AP Calc BC, AP Physics 1 and AP Comp Sci A. He gets along well with everyone and playing soccer/tennis for the school helped tremendously but he does not have many(any) academic peers. He is not challenged so we are looking at other options for him. The school is in a high SES area but academics are poor. More than likely his college choices would be greater if he stayed put but I would rather see him be challenged.
even at my bad high school (gangs, students openly smoking weed in halls,etc) I found a decent niche of about 10 classmates who were plenty sharp, took school very seriously and all the possible AP/honors classes you could get. While we were not super preppy students (I heard of cream of the crop students at a nicer high school across town who got together and self taught themselves 2 or so AP courses that were not offered at their school and passed the AP exam... we did nothing like that) it provided plenty of positive peer reinforcement and competition to help challenge me.
I would assume a 7/10 school would have many more students to help challenge your kid. I think in general after freshman year the honors/AP classes start to condense so he may start to find himself in classes with more serious students in the coming year. Im pretty sure I didnt run into all the top students at my high school in freshman year.
I graduated from one of the single worst public schools in the state of California, which also happens to be located in one of the most gang and crime-infested neighborhoods in the country. That same "terrible" high school, where far less than 50% of incoming freshman graduated, has one of the best AP/honors programs in the state and has won the state academic decathlon title like 7x in the past 10yrs (and the country competition like 15yrs in a row). I ended up at one of the top public universities in the country for undergrad (on my way to a PhD) and several of my classmates ended up at Ivy/Stanford/MIT (including, later two of my siblings, who attended the same high school) and done quite well for themselves.

What school is best for a particular child is highly individual. If you are concerned about property values, local public school rankings are something that absolutely needs to be taken into consideration, but if your child's educational experience is the concern, IMO, school rankings border on being totally irrelevant and useless.

a
Posts: 290
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 1:00 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by a » Thu May 17, 2018 12:30 pm

snowman wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 10:40 am
I never heard of greatschools, so I just went there to see how our excellent schools are rated. Wow, expected better than 5, 5 and 7! I looked deeper as this makes no sense, and the schools got really bad marks for lack of diversity, equity, and some other non-relevant stuff. Got 10/10 for college readiness. My point is GS rankings are garbage, I would not evaluate schools based on that.

I would reitarete what other posters already said: visit schools you are interested in, talk to principal, talk to teachers, sit on classes (if allowed), talk to other parents. You will find that the things other parents like (or dislike) may not pertain to your children at all. You also need to know where your kid falls academically – advanced, average, behind (main 3 groups). Each school will differ in how they treat these groups, even though they all will say that of course they care equally about all 3. Not true for the most part – that requires a lot of resources, and most school districts (even the rich ones) cannot provide equal support to all 3 groups on a consistent basis.

Both of our kids were tested as highly gifted (or whatever they called it) early on. We were moving cross-country at that time, so my wife spent a lot of time searching for the right place to buy a house. Will not go into all the details, bottom line was there were big differences in how different school districts (and even schools within a school district) handled gifted kids. What she found was (this is about 15 years back) that most schools placed higher emphasis (and more resources) into the behind group, and the gifted group was more of an afterthought (not a priority). She personally visited couple highly rated, high performing schools, and didn’t like the atmosphere in those schools – high pressure on the kids, stress on tests and academics over everything else, etc.

We liked the district where we decided to buy the most for the following reason (among others): it had specific track for gifted kids within regular neighborhood schools, from 3rd grade all the way through HS. It turned out to be absolutely wonderful experience for both of our kids as they got the best of both worlds: they had local friends with whom they participated in local sports and academic activities, yet they attended classes full of smart kids like themselves.

Now if you say “well that’s great, snowman, glad it workout out for you and your kids, but how does that pertain to my situation”? I say you are exactly right, it doesn’t! And that’s the point. You need to find the school that’s best for YOUR kids and your family, and for that I would not use greatchools website at all. It’s completely meaningless! Do what many of us suggest, and I guarantee you that you will find good educational options for your kids.

BTW, you still have time, maybe 2-3 years, so don’t stress it too much. The first 2, maybe even 3 grades are all about the teacher – you could get a great one in badly rated school, or bad one in highly rated school. That one person will make all the difference, forget the rankings. Plus you the parents are still making the main difference, so even not so good teacher at school can be overcome with parental involvement at home. But I would start searching now. You may find you already live in the best place for your kid and don't have to move at all!

I wish you good luck. It’s a great journey, you will have lots of fond memories.
Thanks for posting; I found this very helpful (as well as some
previous posts as mentioned - thank you too).

Wellfleet
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Wellfleet » Thu May 17, 2018 12:44 pm

I get the sense that there is an anti-testing movement in some high-performing communities that deemphasize AP participation that then might mess with the algorithms on these websites. Might be wrong but yes, like the US News rankings, they are one tool of many to evaluate schools.

srouen
Posts: 9
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by srouen » Thu May 17, 2018 1:27 pm

snowman wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 10:40 am
I never heard of greatschools, so I just went there to see how our excellent schools are rated. Wow, expected better than 5, 5 and 7! I looked deeper as this makes no sense, and the schools got really bad marks for lack of diversity, equity, and some other non-relevant stuff. Got 10/10 for college readiness. My point is GS rankings are garbage, I would not evaluate schools based on that.
I would not describe diversity and equity as "non-relevant stuff." If a school only has good scores among wealthy/privileged students whose scores would be just as high at about any school, then the school itself isn't adding much value. Indeed, its only "value" is as a place where kids from one side of the tracks avoid rubbing shoulders with kids from the other side. And what is the value of that?

Before you consider moving, I would commend to you this very thoughtful essay by a parent asking the same questions: https://onbeing.org/blog/courtney-marti ... your-kids/

FoolMeOnce
Posts: 328
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by FoolMeOnce » Thu May 17, 2018 1:50 pm

srouen wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 1:27 pm
snowman wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 10:40 am
I never heard of greatschools, so I just went there to see how our excellent schools are rated. Wow, expected better than 5, 5 and 7! I looked deeper as this makes no sense, and the schools got really bad marks for lack of diversity, equity, and some other non-relevant stuff. Got 10/10 for college readiness. My point is GS rankings are garbage, I would not evaluate schools based on that.
I would not describe diversity and equity as "non-relevant stuff." If a school only has good scores among wealthy/privileged students whose scores would be just as high at about any school, then the school itself isn't adding much value. Indeed, its only "value" is as a place where kids from one side of the tracks avoid rubbing shoulders with kids from the other side. And what is the value of that?

Before you consider moving, I would commend to you this very thoughtful essay by a parent asking the same questions: https://onbeing.org/blog/courtney-marti ... your-kids/
I also consider diversity relevant. In addition to your point, a diverse school setting better represents and prepares kids for the world they will live in, and growing research shows diversity in one's setting may improve critical reasoning and problem solving, which might not show up on standardized test scores, especially from the more basic tests for the lower grades.

halfnine
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by halfnine » Thu May 17, 2018 2:58 pm

Personally, I would not consider diversity in itself relevant especially when it comes with segregation but I would certainly consider both diversity combined with integration relevant. While I have seen this achieved in both primary and tertiary education, I have not really seen this at the secondary level. If anyone can point me to a study where the benefits of diversity are achieved in secondary education I'd be more than interested.

rhornback
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Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by rhornback » Thu May 17, 2018 5:16 pm

I have thought about this very subject many times over the years.

I have a son who is finishing up at the local jr college and transferring to a U.S. News and World reports school ranked around 80. So a top 100 school (respectable) but not a top 20 school. I have a daughter who is finishing up her sophomore year at high school.

I wanted to give my kids the opportunities I did not. So when I bought my house school the school district was a top criteria.

I regret this choice. I wish my kids had gone to an 'above average' school but not one of the 'best schools'.

There are two reasons for this. 1. My kids are average. 2. I do not have an interest of being a heavily involved parents in the school district and I prefer my wife was less involved.

IMO it comes down to supply and demand. Yes, where we go to school there are lots of excellent opportunities in AP classes, the Arts, and Sports (ie Supply). However there are also a lot of high caliber students and the heavily involved parents (Demand).

Now if your kid is top of the heap; the cream that rises to the top then this is OK. But if not, if your child is more average like mine are, IMO there is simply not enough supply IMO to meet the demand.

Sometimes it is better to be a big fish in a small pond. The reason is within this small pond you might get the exposure and opportunities that you would not get at a bigger pond. And by getting this exposure you are able to hone your skills and get the experience you need to succeed.

Ironically in some cases the big fish in our school district are now going to top colleges, Division 1, Ivy League and the like. And while they are outstanding, their competition is now greater at these top schools. So they are not necessarily big fish anymore. How this will effect them will be interesting, though I doubt I will ever find out.

Life will be full of opportunities and full of disappointments. And while education is an important factor I do not believe it is the most important factor to success or especially happiness. Education will not necessarily stop divorce or cancer. It might lesson the possibility of this by picking out a superior spouse or working in an environment where there are less cancer causing agents. But it will not stop these.

In turn, living in an area which is growing and being lucky enough to work for a great boss at a company which is growing will create opportunities even for an average employee.

I remember working in one company where I questioned the abilities of those in the outside offices (the ones with the windows) while I was a cubical dweller. My opinion is they were competent but not necessarily excellent. Instead they were lucky to join the company when it was small, unknown, and un-established and they were in their position largely due to growth of the organization after them.

So to those who might be making this decision my advice to you would be to go to an above average school where there will be honors and AP classes, arts and sport programs available for your child. But unless your child is a prodigy, I feel going to a 'best[' school is unnecessary and in some cases detrimental.

I hope I have helped someone. Or at least provided some food for thought.

SeekingBogle
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:38 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by SeekingBogle » Thu May 17, 2018 8:54 pm

rhornback wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 5:16 pm
I have thought about this very subject many times over the years.

I have a son who is finishing up at the local jr college and transferring to a U.S. News and World reports school ranked around 80. So a top 100 school (respectable) but not a top 20 school. I have a daughter who is finishing up her sophomore year at high school.

I wanted to give my kids the opportunities I did not. So when I bought my house school the school district was a top criteria.

I regret this choice. I wish my kids had gone to an 'above average' school but not one of the 'best schools'.

There are two reasons for this. 1. My kids are average. 2. I do not have an interest of being a heavily involved parents in the school district and I prefer my wife was less involved.

IMO it comes down to supply and demand. Yes, where we go to school there are lots of excellent opportunities in AP classes, the Arts, and Sports (ie Supply). However there are also a lot of high caliber students and the heavily involved parents (Demand).

Now if your kid is top of the heap; the cream that rises to the top then this is OK. But if not, if your child is more average like mine are, IMO there is simply not enough supply IMO to meet the demand.

Sometimes it is better to be a big fish in a small pond. The reason is within this small pond you might get the exposure and opportunities that you would not get at a bigger pond. And by getting this exposure you are able to hone your skills and get the experience you need to succeed.

Ironically in some cases the big fish in our school district are now going to top colleges, Division 1, Ivy League and the like. And while they are outstanding, their competition is now greater at these top schools. So they are not necessarily big fish anymore. How this will effect them will be interesting, though I doubt I will ever find out.

Life will be full of opportunities and full of disappointments. And while education is an important factor I do not believe it is the most important factor to success or especially happiness. Education will not necessarily stop divorce or cancer. It might lesson the possibility of this by picking out a superior spouse or working in an environment where there are less cancer causing agents. But it will not stop these.

In turn, living in an area which is growing and being lucky enough to work for a great boss at a company which is growing will create opportunities even for an average employee.

I remember working in one company where I questioned the abilities of those in the outside offices (the ones with the windows) while I was a cubical dweller. My opinion is they were competent but not necessarily excellent. Instead they were lucky to join the company when it was small, unknown, and un-established and they were in their position largely due to growth of the organization after them.

So to those who might be making this decision my advice to you would be to go to an above average school where there will be honors and AP classes, arts and sport programs available for your child. But unless your child is a prodigy, I feel going to a 'best[' school is unnecessary and in some cases detrimental.

I hope I have helped someone. Or at least provided some food for thought.
Thanks for sharing your experience, rhon. Definitely something to consider.

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