other people's opinions

Now that touring season is hitting its stride you’re seeing that schools aren’t one size fits all. I’ve heard about unexpected likes from some of you, others who saw schools and decided not to pursue them further. These schools are so varied and kids are so unique - what’s terrific for one could be a disaster for another. Touring, talking to current students, teachers, administrators all give insight into what places are like which can often be different from what you expected. 

I learned, early on in the process, not to let other people’s opinions get to me. Because people will have very strong opinions and will know people who know people who said . . . 

One example (I think I shared this way back): when Jack was touring and we were on the very long Beacon open house line, the woman next to me was telling fellow parents she’d never let her child got to Brooklyn Tech, that it was a drug den, and proceeded to tell a story of kids being arrested in the cafeteria for dealing. I said I was PTA president and hadn’t heard any of this - turned out (I checked with the school) that none of it was true. But, those parents heard that terrible story and who knows, it could have swayed their feelings about the school.

One more: when I was touring middle schools with my kids, my daughter thought Lab felt like a prison bunker (hallway by the gym) and my son thought it was bright and spacious and airy (classrooms upstairs looking out on trees). Everyone has their own reactions, opinions, feelings, thoughts. 

My advice, trust your gut. If you and your child like a school, awesome. If you don’t have a good feeling about it, good to know now. Reputations and hearsay can cloud facts and personal reactions.