5 Tips for Getting Into NYC's Public High Schools
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However, we do not live in a perfect world. That is why, ultimately, it’s up to you to double-check every fact that’s in the high school directory, keep an eye on deadlines, and follow up with the schools to confirm they have everything they need from you.
It’s your guidance counselor’s job to make sure every 8th grader ends up placed in a high-school. It’s your job to make sure your child ends up placed in the high-school that’s right for him.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Despite the DOE urging students to “Keep up with schoolwork. It is the best possible preparation (for the SHSAT),” the truth is that standard NYC middle-school curriculum is not synched with what is on the SHSAT. Neither are the state tests. Even if your child aced her 7th grade ELA and Math exams (which will be important for screened schools), and even if he is currently getting straight As in every subject, odds are, she will still need to do some sort of prep, if only to become familiar with the SHSAT’s unique format.
You can get ready by using prep books, or you can take a prep course for a few weeks, a few months, or for up to a year before the exam.
Apply Realistically to NYC High Schools
You have 12 slots to fill on your public school application. (That’s not counting the SHSAT schools you ranked on a separate application, LaGuardia’s audition process, charter schools, private, or parochial schools). Use them all. In 2016, 97 percent of students who listed all 12 options got into one of the schools on their list. 86 percent got into one of their top five choices. And getting into your last-choice school--assuming you visited and liked it well enough to list it--still beats getting into no school at all and being sent to second round, where you again list your remaining choices and might still not get any of them. You would then be assigned to a school you didn’t rank at all.
Be realistic when you apply. If a school says it only wants “A” students (and has only accepted “A” students in previous years) and you are a ”B” student, sure, go ahead and list it--you never know what the application pool might be this year--but do not list exclusively “A” schools. Because if you don’t get into any of them and go on to second round, not only all the “A” schools, but also all the “B” schools might be filled, leaving you with fewer and less attractive options than if you had listed several “B” schools along with your “A” schools on the original application.
Good luck! 70,000+ families go through this process every year--and live to tell the tale.
RELATED: Our top tips on choosing a NYC private school.