Parents take the high tech info route for school analysis.What DNA says

“Is the school at a walkable distance from my home?
Are the teachers good?
Can a child cope after four years of alternative education in a traditional school?”

These are just a few of the many queries that pop up on the interactive forums on admission/parenting websites today. As school admission dates draw closer and parents try and make important decisions about which school is best for their children, their top source of information now is the interactive website.

Forums like,,, are a great help to parents who need instant information or if they want to interact with other parents across the city. Though some schools have put up their own websites on the Internet, it is these interactive forums that parents find most helpful.

Says Reena Sofiya, programme manager, Target and parent, “I work all day and I just don't get the time to call up schools for information. And so I use the help of interactive websites that give me all the details I need. I get to know what other parents are talking about and though I would not make a decision based solely on these opinions, at least I get the primary information. I find it best to talk personally to the parents I find on these sites. My favourite site is . My son is only one year nine months now and attends a Montessori toddler's programme now, but I am already planning ahead to when he joins a school.”

According to another parent Dhanya Menon who is a corporate lawyer, a website can only be a starting point. “Though I use the Internet for a lot of purposes when it comes to something major like school admissions, I would not rely on it entirely. But it is a point where you can get started and something that will supplement my other efforts. Also I don't look at schools that are heavily publicized, and I would not go by the number of hits that a site gets. I rely completely on content. For example if a blog says a teacher was very mean to a child, I would be put off immediately as I am a very cautious person.”

Some parents search the websites for specific information. Says Chaitali Sarkar, stay at home mum, who has a 22 month old daughter. “Many schools do not have enough information on their websites; so if I need dynamic info like opinions about a school, I would go to an interactive website. I like to know more about the schools and I try to get to know the parents too. If I want to speak to them in person I call them up. I also go through the blogs in detail. Unfortunately, many of these blogs are only available on alternative school sites, not on traditional schools. Once I have got the information I need, I usually go and check out the school itself, and observe the attitude of the principal and the staff.”

For Anuradha Banerjee, parent,who works in a leading bank, location is of prime importance. “These forums are very good for working couples and we get to know more than what is available on a school's website. I also like to see if the school has a good listing and this would be my primary research. The reviews on the Internet forums, however, have to be taken with a pinch of salt however as people's personal opinions keep varying. I also like to see how many children have gotten into noted institutes like the IIT from these schools. I also like the fact that you can put up posts and connect with other parents too.”

Heads of schools feel that parents should look at any website objectively. Says Santosh Gnanakan, director of communications, Acts Group that runs various schools and educational institutions across the country, “It is a good idea to be able to check out websites as a lot of parents are at office and would like to look for information. No parent will, in any case go entirely by a website. An internet forum therefore plays a small but important role when a parent is selecting a school. It is also good that parents are blogging because that keeps schools on their toes and this is the age of information so people will blog and express their opinions.

But parents should be intelligent enough not to dismiss a school just because one parent has had a bad day with a teacher. There is always another side to the story.”

@chitra Aiyer


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