Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nature vs. New Trier

When my husband and I bought our condo in the city, the decisions we had to make felt fun and easy.  Walk-up or high-rise?  (Walk-up!)  Lakeview or Bucktown? (Lakeview!)  But now that we are starting to think about moving out of the city, it feels like we have to consider life choices that go way beyond the choice between Brazilian cherry or oak hardwood floors (cherry!).  And it's tough.

The main issue we're wrestling with?  Schools.  And, more specifically, HIGH SCHOOL.  Yes, I realize our son is only 16 months old and our other children don't exist yet.  But assuming we will stay in the same home and/or neighborhood for the long-haul, our decision now could very well determine where they will attend.  We are pretty decided on living somewhere along the North Shore and are very pro-public school when there are great options.  So it's an easy decision, right?  New Trier is regarded as the best school in the Chicagoland area, it's public, and it's on the North Shore.  Done and done?  I'm not entirely convinced. 

From what I hear, the school is huge and extremely competitive.  I would worry that our kid(s) would feel a lot of pressure in that kind of environment.  And given the wealthy neighborhoods that feed into it, I would worry about the lack of diversity in background and ethnicity, as well as social pressures to fit-in (exacerbating my lament in Keeping Up With The Patels).  But, to some extent, these pressures exist at any suburban high school in an affluent area, right?  Should we purposely not choose something that, on paper, is the "best", because we fear that our kids - some of whom don't even exist yet - aren't going to be able to handle it?  Can't we just raise them right so that they can?

My husband and I came from completely different environments and both ended up in the same place.  I went to a small magnet high school in inner-city Fort Worth where white people were the minority, academics were the focus, and where walking through a metal detector before prom seemed completely normal.  He grew up in small-town Illinois, where there were no African Americans in his class (a few Indians, though, because their parents were doctors or motel owners ha), and where going to college wasn't a given.  But we both did well in high school, graduated from Northwestern and became lawyers, and look back on our unique experiences as fun and fulfilling.  So perhaps success is more a function of the individual person and the family in which he or she is raised, rather than where his or her school ranks.  I know that's true, and that success means a lot more than grades or college admission, but there's also a tiny Indian mom inside of me who wants what is considered to be the "best."

Anyone have strong opinions on New Trier, other North Shore schools or schooling decisions generally?

6 comments:

  1. Move to Houston. Problem solved.

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    1. Haha, I feel sweaty just thinking about it.

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  2. New Trier is a great school, but I struggled with the same concerns you had about the school as well. I think that you just have to make a decision that makes sense for your family. We ultimately decided to move to a diverse area with a good public school that also allowed for an shorter work commute so that the family could spend time together and would allow us to participate in school activities when the time comes. :) So there's lots of considerations to take into account, but I'm sure that you guys will make a great decision!

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    1. Thanks, Em! Where did you guys end up moving?

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    2. We moved to Niles so the high school would be Niles West. Really diverse area according to a cousin who lived in Lincolnwood and graduated from Niles West recently.

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  3. If you move to the New Trier district and want diversity at least through Middle School, there is only one choice, the Avoca School District 37. Avoca has a thirty percent minority population albeit it is primarily Asian and it probably has the most diverse economic population among the feeder districts. Great school district with small class sizes and intimate feel. Among the top test scores in the state (at the top or close to the top of the NT feeder districts) and nationally ranked Science Olympiad team. Wilmette is the next most diverse district, though much larger than Avoca. Other districts are pretty homogeneous as is New Trier with its size overwhelming the diversity at Avoca.

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