Those interested in college prep schools are also often interested in school ranking, and prep schools are the most likely to have a boarding school ranking. This article explains how boarding schools are ranked and provides tips for reading the rankings.
What Are Boarding School Rankings?
Boarding school rankings are ratings that compare boarding schools based on specified criteria and focused almost entirely on college preparatory schools. Some websites and organizations provide a yearly report to allow for changes to existing schools and the introduction of new institutions to the field. Here are some of the reviews you can look for, with a brief description of each:
• Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/29/best-prep-schools-2010-opinions-private-education.html The ranking weights student/faculty ratio, proportion of faculty with advanced degrees, size of endowment, and percentages of students that went on to what Forbes considers to be the top ten US colleges.
• PrepReview.com http://www.prepreview.com/ranking/us/boarding_schools.php This site requires a payment to see its rankings, which are based on the percentage of the graduating class entering Ivy League schools plus MIT and Stanford in the past 5 years, of boarding schools with at least 5-day boarding programs and a minimum average of 45 students in their graduating class.
• GreatSchools.org http://www.greatschools.org/school-choice/ At this website, you begin by defining your ideal school and then search based on the criteria you’ve provided, creating a personalized set of school rankings. Criteria include the type of school you want, the distance from home, the school facilities you want, the school size, ability to work well with any special needs your child might have, type of curriculum, school achievement history, rigor of the curriculum, amount of homework, use of technology, extracurricular offerings, expectations for parental involvement, type of school culture, degree of diversity in the school population, school philosophy or mission, qualities of the teaching staff, and the school’s approach(es) to communicating with parents.
Note that U.S. News does not include private high schools (including boarding schools) in its ranking of the best American high schools because its criteria include statewide accountability tests, which private school students do not have to take, making comparison impossible. Similarly, Newsweek does not rank private schools, but claims that a lack of cooperation from private schools, which—according to Newsweek— believe that rankings are misleading and not a good way to judge schools and that visits to school campuses should be used instead.
What Are Some Tips for Reading Boarding School Rankings?
Here are some hints and tips for considering boarding school rankings:
• The private schools that recommend that rankings not be given too much weight have a point, especially when considering rankings based on narrow criteria, like those of PrepReview.com. Rankings should be placed into a broader context.
• Rankings do not touch on most of the things that make a particular school a good fit for a particular student, and for some students with particular interests or aptitudes or disabilities, they may be less useful.
• Read the comments on ranking articles, but only pay heed to them if the commenter seems balanced and rational. There will be many whose alma mater or employer was left out and want to make a case for it, and this can be a valuable source for other ideas of top-flight schools.