Now that school is back in session and open houses/tours are on the horizon you might find there are many parents out there with strong opinions about various schools: xxx burns kids out, xxx is a party school, xxx had a lackluster administration or isn't what it used to be or overwhelms kids with too much work or has a terrible humanities programs. Seriously I could go on and on. There are countless opinions out there and lots of hearsay and rumors floating around. I learned, early on, that if a parent doesn't have a child at the school they're talking about, take what they're saying with a grain of salt.
I remember being on the endless Beacon open house line and the woman next to me telling a group of parents that Brooklyn Tech was a drug den - she would never allow her child to go there. I said that my daughter was a junior, that I was PTA president and had never heard the story she told. I went back to the administration to fact check what was a remarkably far fetched scenario to find that no, it wasn't true at all. But a bunch of parents heard it and perhaps went forward with a more negative view of Tech than was warranted. Having said that, even though I'm in my 5th year at Tech and headed up the PTA for two of those, if someone asked me details about the physics major or how the robotics team operated or the workload for someone playing girls volleyball I wouldn't be able to effectively answer.
As this process evolves you'll be forming your own opinions. I remember being surprised at the schools that did and didn't resonate for me and my kids - at which I thought would be a perfect fit and left us cold and others that had been off our radar that we walked out feeling great about. In the end, that's what matters. Finding places that could be a good fit for you and your family, not one that other people are hawking or negating.
Harper Collegiate open house sign ups are live: http://harvestcollegiate.org/news/open-house/