Busy Parent’s Guide to Finding a Great School in 3 Easy Steps

Drop-off, errands, chores, hustle, pick-up, dinner, bath time, collapse into bed.

My days get so crazy, especially during PCS and school search seasons, that it’s all I can do to drag myself upstairs to bed at night.

If your days are like mine right now, doing an intensive school search just isn’t in the cards.

Let’s cut to the chase, fellow busy parents.

Narrow Your Search

You have orders in hand and know which base you’re going to, right? Perfect! Pull up Google Maps or your favorite GPS directions tool.

Figure out how far you are willing to be from base. Look at real commute times, not what is super close physically.

For example, when we were stationed in DC it looked like the Maryland side of the Potomac would be ideal. Plus, there was ample on-base housing over there. It was super close, as the crow flies, to my husband’s work. Perfect, right?

Wrong! By metro it would have taken over an HOUR every single day, with multiple train changes to boot. By car, it would have been even longer. And no one wants to drive in DC traffic every day, am I right?

Once you have a list of a few towns that meet your commute needs, write those down.

Get Ready to Record

For the next step, you need my FREE Ultimate School Comparison Worksheet. It’s a no frills, done-for-you way to compare schools.

Once you’ve downloaded and printed this FREE resource, pull up the Big 3. I’m talking Niche, SchoolDigger, and Great Schools. For advice on how to use these sites effectively, check out this post.

On the school search websites, search for schools in the towns that you picked in the last step. Check out the ratings and rankings for the district, then focus in on specific schools. When you find a school you like in a town that works for you, record that info on your Ultimate School Comparison Worksheet.


With a few schools jotted down, it’s time to do a quick overall comparison. Ask yourself:

  • Which school or school district has the best commute?
  • What are rental prices? What are homes selling for?
  • Will this school be able to offer my child what s/he need?
    • Special education
    • Gifted education
    • Sports/drama/music/arts/clubs
  • Do I get a good feeling about this school from online sites?

Be super honest. It’s important that you get very, very real about what your child and family need to be successful.

The school that comes out on top should get a phone call from you as soon as possible. Then start looking at homes for sale or rent!

Can’t Decide?

It’s a tough process! I totally get it. Even coming from the teaching side, it’s hard to select districts and schools to work at.

That’s where I come in. Hiring a professional education coach to do your searching for you frees you up. Outsourcing this allows you to dedicate more time to your family and the PCS process. I’m here so that you can relax just a little bit.

Where are you at in the school search process? Tell me in the comments!


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