Chicago School Search – How to Get Started & School Fair Info

Written by: Sarah Cobb

We know school search is a topic that is always buzzing.  Questions like: what schools should I look at, when do I apply, and how will I get in to the schools I want?

At NPN, we are constantly working to help you find those answers!  From updating our online School Directory to adding new events to our School Choice Program – we are here to help!

School Fair Season is just around the corner.  We want to make sure you have all the information you need to create a plan of attack.

Don’t forget – You can reserve your spot before registration opens with NPN VIP School Fair access!  Donate $75 to the NPN Annual Fund and you get to register early for the fair, arrive at any time, and skip to the front of the check in line!!!

Here is a Q&A to help you prepare for your school search:

Q. What resources does NPN have to help me through this process:

A. We have four main tools to guide you through your family’s search:

Q. What are the school fairs like?

A. School Fairs are large expo style events filled with public elementary schools, private preschools, private elementary schools, enrichment programs, and family friendly business representatives waiting to speak with you!

Q. When do I register for these events?

A. NPN members will get an email about a month before each event with a link to get registered.  The Oct 13th School Fair will open for registration in early Sep. and is for NPN members only.  NOTE: You do not need to register for Sep. 22nd - it is open to the public.

Q. What public and private schools are coming to the event?

A. Check the Sep. 22 and Oct. 13 event pagesand scroll down to the bottom of the page for the latest list of exhibitors.

Q. How can I help get my school or a missing school registered as an exhibitor?

A. On each school fair page, Sep. 22 and Oct. 13, click on the Exhibitor link.  Or please contact to get started.

Q. How should parents prepare beforehand to make the most of their time at the event?

A. Spend some time preparing - create a “short” list of your top school options:

  • Determine the factors that are most important to your family’s school search process (e.g., starting age, location, total costs, school hours/schedule, before/after school activities/options, etc.)
  • Visit the NPN online School Directory and use the search to create a list of schools you don't want to miss at the fair.  Check the exhibitor list to see who will be there!
  • Download the eDirectory to get to know the schools you are considering.
  • Use your short list and NPN School Fair Program book you receive at the event to keep track of your conversations, contacts, and progress.

Q. What should I ask a school when visiting their exhibitor table? 

A. Here are a few ideas beyond getting to know the basics about a school:

  • Confirm admissions deadlines, process details, financial aid options/deadlines, and open house date(s)
  • Where appropriate, ask about twin and sibling policies
  • Ask about what a classroom looks like and what a typical day includes
  • Get to know more about their teachers – teacher-student ratios and their hiring requirements
  • Get to know their before/after school activities and options
  • What are their special classes/programs?  What makes them different from other schools?

Thank you to our School Fair media sponsor Chicago Parent and our generous hosts Hyde Park Neighborhood Club and Grossinger City Autoplex!

Posted on June 26, 2012 at 4:10 PM