Optimizing for Choice


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There's been a lot of talk during the school assignment reform process about optimizing plans for various factors. These include equity, diversity, proximity to home, etc. One factor that hasn't been discussed very much is the optimal number of school choices.

The current assignment plan offers lots of choices. The average parent applying for K2 for 2013 will have around 30 schools to choose from. To me this seems like too many choices. Nobody is likely to actually visit 30 schools. I've spoken to a couple of people who actually tried to visit all of their choices, but didn't come very close.

On the other hand, most parents do seem to prefer having choices rather than a plan where you'd just be assigned to a nearby school based on your address. So what is the optimal number of choices? I did some Google searches to see if I could find any research on this topic. I didn't find anything, although it appears that when choosing a pen, 8-12 choices is optimal (who knows, maybe the same applies to schools).

So how many choices would you like to have? Assuming a reasonably good mix of quality, programs, locations, etc., what number of choices would feel like enough to you without being overwhelming? Please let me know in a comment below or by tweeting to @BPSWorkshop.


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4 is definitely too small, but somewhere around 8-10 Feels right.

I visited five schools and Matt attended one presentation that had reps from four (I think there was a bit of overlap there). I found that to be overwhelming, to be honest (just the 5 I visited). I think that anything more than 10 is way too much. It also depends on where they are. If the distance I have to travel is smaller, I might be willing/able to visit more. Or if I could just take off one day and visit a whole bunch in one day. I felt like that hardest part was scheduling so many days where I had to come in late.

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