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When faced with the overwhelming task of choosing a high school for your amazing budding citizen, the options can be downright dizzying. There are large and small options, parochial and nonparochial, traditional and not-so-traditional—the key is to evaluate what is best for your individual teenager and family.

Considering the generally poor scores garnered by Arizona public education, concerned guardians understandably opt for alternatives. Wooed by small class sizes and other seductive statistics—nearly every private high school in the Valley boasts a college attendance rate between 90 and 100 percent—families speed past the local public schools and drop the teens off at the nearest prestigious prep school. Yet not all private schools are created equal. What’s best for one student might not be the best for another. In the search for the perfect private school, it’s important to embark on your research early (most apps are due in the winter preceding the school year).

(It is important to note that Valley residents need not completely discount public school; depending on the district and the school, some public school education offerings can be excellent. See sidebar on P. TK for more details.)