Best High Schools in Chicago Suburbs
Chicago is home to many world-renowned talents, including sportsmen, musicians, writers, journalists, and filmmakers – but they didn’t appear out of thin air. They each were nurtured and nudged towards success in one of Chicago’s many enriching schools, which has us wondering... Which schools are the best in the Chicago suburbs?
Here we take a look at the brightest, brainiest, and most brilliant schools in the Chicago Suburbs. Qualities that earned institutions a place on our list include AP and honors classes, strong academic performance, athletics, excellent facilities, and, where possible, student diversity. We couldn’t cover every incredible school in the Chicago suburbs in detail, but if we could, our full list of the Best High Schools would include:
- Evanston Township
- York Community High School
- Glenbrook North High School
- Naperville Central High School
- Neuqua Valley High School
- Metea Valley High School
- Hinsdale Central High School
- Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
- Glenbard High School
- Naperville North High School
- Lake Forest High School
- Deerfield High School
- Waubonsie Valley High School
- Barrington High School
- Prospect High School
- Lyons Township High School
- Buffalo Grove High School
- Oak Park High School
- Wheaton Warrenville South
- Lemont Township Highschool
If there are any others that you think should be on the list, drop us a comment below. For now, let’s dive into the top nine schools from the suburbs of Chicago that caught our attention.
What are the Best High Schools in Chicago Suburbs?
- AP participation/pass rate: 66%, 52%
- English/maths proficiency: 53%, 50%
Located in the vibrant city of Evanston, this school is home to a diverse, successful student body. 54% of its student enrollment identify as a minority and 36% are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The school maintains a good average SAT score of 1240 and ranks highly across the board for academics, teachers, college prep, clubs and activities, and health and safety.
The 65-acre campus serves 3,602 students in Evanston and Skokie. Teenagers attending Evanston Township High School say that they love the inclusive ethos of the school, where students from all walks of life are encouraged to explore their interests through the many clubs and competitive opportunities on offer.
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- AP participation/pass rate: 58%, 52%
- English/maths proficiency: 65%, 63%
Creative and academically-minded students will excel at York Community High school. This historic and prestigious school is located in the pretty suburb of Elmhurst, which is known for being the cultural capital of DuPage.
It should come as no surprise, then, that York is widely known for its performing arts programs, including musical performance, dance, and theatre, and the many shows that take place year-round in the school’s own auditorium. Students particularly look forward to the Fine Arts Week, which includes the school’s annual talent show.
Students attending York Community High School are well-prepared for life beyond SATs and many students go on to competitive universities including Madison and the University of Iowa. York has a dedicated College Resource Centre, which students say makes the world of difference navigating college applications, finances, and interviews.
It’s not just York that’s great in Elmhurst – we are in love with this cute city-cum-suburb.
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- AP participation/pass rate:75%, 70%
- English/maths proficiency:
Libertyville High School is a medium-sized, highly-rated school that is respected for being home to many talented, competitive, and spirited students. Libertyville’s gifted student body of 1,805 excel in music, athletics, and academics, and the institution is a good choice for a well-rounded education. In particular, the school is known for its Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble, which keep the picturesque suburb of Libertyville entertained throughout the year.
Libertyville's alumni students include a number of notable musicians and sportsmen, likely owing to the school’s long history of competing in various national and state championships, including a 20-year winning streak for the Wind Ensemble band in the Superstate Competition.
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- AP participation and pass rate: 59%, 57%
- English/maths proficiency: 72%, 74%
Glenbrook North High School is a large public high school in the suburb of Northbrook, north of Chicago. The school is recognized nationally for its academics and is a Blue Ribbon School, distinguishing its students for achieving some of the best test scores in the state of Illinois.
This high school offers strong programs across the board, including athletics (go Spartans!), performing arts, STEM subjects, and fine arts. As a fantastic all-rounder, Glenbrook North is the place for students to get a well-balanced and high-caliber education.
For students interested in performance and acting, Glenbrook is notable on two counts. It’s home to the Shelly Performing Arts Centre, a contemporary music theatre and performance venue on campus, which houses events from the Northbrook Symphony and Glenview Theatre Guild and the school’s own GBN Theatre, to name a few. The second note, which is of less consequence but of equal interest, is that the school was the film set for the cult film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. However, with Glenbrook’s nurturance, we highly doubt any of their students would take the same attitude to school as the infamous truant Bueller.
- AP participation and pass rate: 56%, 46%
- English/maths proficiency: 67%, 70%
Naperville is home to many outstanding schools, but Naperville Central High School is the grandfather, being the villages’ original high school built beside Centennial Park near the turn of the 20th century. Today, it serves 2,750 students living in central and Northwestern Naperville.
Students from Naperville Central have great prospects, often going on to university at places like Northwestern, Urbana Champaign, and the University of Iowa, studying in majors such as business, economics and finance, STEM subjects, and psychology. The school is known for giving students a bright start and has dozens of notable alumni.
In the heart of Naperville, the school couldn’t be better placed for students to be part of the local community. It sits beside the Naperville Riverwalk park/trail network and is a stones’ throw from Naperville’s vibrant downtown, making its freshmen and seniors the envy of many other suburban high schoolers.
Could Naperville be worth the move? Spoiler – the answer is yes, but if you need convincing, check out our article on everything that’s good about living in Naperville.
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- AP participation and pass rate: 68%, 56%
- English/maths proficiency: 59%, 61%
This diverse and prestigious school is located in Aurora and serves students on the east side of the city. As one of the most beautiful schools in Illinois, Metea Valley High School provides an inspiring setting for students to excel.
Built a little over 10 years ago, the bright, contemporary and airy school has previously made the list of Most Amazing School Campuses in the World. The $124.7M institution houses modern and up-to-date facilities including an auditorium, a musical hallway, a media center, technology lab, competition gymnasium, indoor swimming pool, athletic fields, tennis courts, outdoor courtyards, and a football stadium.
Metea Valley provides plenty of opportunities for students to cultivate their interests. The school sponsors almost one hundred extra-curricular clubs, ranging from the nationally recognized, including Model UN and Future Medical Professionals, to the unique including Aikido and Girls Who Code Club.
Naperville is home to the best of everything, not just schools! Check out our article on everything that’s good about living in Naperville.
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- AP participation and pass rate: 68%, 63%
- English/maths proficiency: 72%, 74%
Neuqua Valley High School should be exciting to any young sportsmen, songbirds, or musicians looking to develop their talents to compete on the world stage.
Neuqua Valley High School might be the newest of Naperville’s three high schools but that hasn’t stopped it from quicking rising up the ranks to prove itself equally deserving of prestige and accolades. Niche.com rates Neuqua Valley as the best high school in Will County, no doubt owing to the school's fiercely competitive academics and athletics.
The school itself is barely over 20 years old and is an impressive red-brick building that houses over 3,000 students living south of Springbrook Prairie in Naperville. The campus includes a 25-yard swimming pool and a wading pool, five gymnasiums, three full-sized basketball courts, two weight rooms, a climbing wall, an enclosed football field, a rubber running track, and a soccer stadium. It’s no surprise that Naperville frequently takes the podium and even wins state championships, with recent achievements including State Champions for Girls’ Swimming and Diving, 2nd place for Boys’ Cross County, and 2nd Place in Badminton.
Neuqua Valley High School is the proud curator of a highly acclaimed music program, which is recognized by the Grammy Association. The Music department has a trophy cabinet of awards, so to speak, including nine Grammy signature school awards. The school offers an unparalleled range of clubs and programs, including bands, choirs, orchestras, and soloist concerts, allowing musical students of all persuasions to develop their performance, theory, and technique.
Opening the door to Naperville’s excellent school system is one of many reasons to move to this suburb. Check out our post on everything that’s good about living in Naperville.
- AP participation and pass rate: 58%, 53%
- English/math proficiency: 79%, 75%
Hinsdale Central is a large public high school located in the Western suburbs of Chicago. It frequently tops the charts of best schools in Illinois, rubbing shoulders with the most prestigious public and private schools alike.
This is a spirited and competitive high school where students make the most of a rich offering of academic, athletic, and extracurricular opportunities. Hinsdale has won more than 100 Illinois state championships today and has more than 80 clubs. The school’s district recently won a grant for redevelopment, which will include a sparkling new pool at Hinsdale Central.
Hinsdale is known for being one of the wealthier suburbs of Chicago and its students certainly benefit. With property taxes on highly valued homes, Hinsdale Central Highschool recoups enough to spend an immense $21,285 per student every year. The majority of students come from Hinsdale or similarly affluent areas including Clarendon Hills and Oak Brook.
- AP participation and pass rate: 80%, 72%
- English/maths proficiency: +
For any young person with a budding potential to one-day program rockets, shape cyberspace or win the Nobel prize, this is the school to set their sights on.
The Illinois Mathematics & Science Academy (IMSA) is a diverse public high school in the city of Aurora, west of Chicago, and is one of the best schools in Illinois. It offers a three-year residential course to students in grades 10–12, with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. IMSA supports a diverse contingent of students and Aurora is known for being one of the best diverse Chicago suburbs.
According to niche.com, 100% of students at IMSA are gifted and talented. This would explain IMSA’s unrivaled average SAT score of 1450, which comes in at more than 100 points higher than any other school on the list.
Student life at IMSA is competitive but community-centric. Young adults here have the rare opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded individuals with a complete immersion into academic life – a mature environment most teenagers won’t experience until college. IMSA students can also find balance in their lives, with the chance to compete athletically with the Titans (or chess, for the less sporty competitors), as well as the many events, trips, and community engagement activities organized by the school.
An exciting development is that IMSA recently gained a new president and CEO. Overseeing the academy is Dr. Evan M. Glazer, the former 10-year president of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which tops many rankings as the best public school in the U.S. Perhaps IMSA will be next – watch this space!
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