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How to Prepare for High School Admissions

How to Prepare for High School Admissions

Yasmin Castro shares five tips for making the high school admissions process easier.

Growing up is tough, between falling outs with friends and finding out how to get involved in politics for the first time, even without the stress of high school. Nowadays, kids don't have to worry just about going to high school (as scary as that is on its own), they have to worry about getting into their school of choice. Whether they're stressed out about getting into public school or being accepted to one of specialized high schools, there's a lot middle schoolers need to prepare for. Yasmin Castro, a senior site coordinator for Breakthrough New York shares her tips for helping hundreds of families navigate the system.


High school applications, for both public and private schools, can feel daunting for even the most prepared New York City parents. Here are some tips to set your middle school student up for success during the high school admissions process and beyond!

Keep records.

Many middle schools have only one counselor for hundreds of students, so be sure to keep copies of your child’s report cards and school records in the event of paperwork delays. This is especially important if your student is exploring independent and boarding schools, as they may have different application deadlines than public schools.

Research high school options strategically.

The New York City Department of Education offers a database that includes information about every public high school in the city. This does not mean you must research all 435 schools! Even if you just have one school in mind, identify qualities or programs within that school that appeal to your student and use those criteria to find similar schools to consider.

Be open-minded.

The “best” school may not be the best fit for your child. A school with name recognition and a student body of 3,000 might be overwhelming for someone who prefers a more intimate learning environment. Breakthrough New York helps families find high schools that are suited to the talents and interests of their individual child, and encourages all parents to take a similar approach.

Cultivate autonomy.

In high school, students are quickly thrust into a world where a certain level of independence is expected. Encourage self-sufficiency to help your child thrive in the face of these changes. Kids who have experience navigating the subway, preparing their own lunches, and sending their own emails will be better equipped to juggle the academic and social challenges of high school life.

Prepare for more than just the test.

While preparing for standardized tests is undoubtedly important, don’t forget to help your child build social and conversational skills. Research shows that family dinners have a myriad of benefits, and they also present an opportunity to spark a deeper dialogue, beyond the day-to-day. Whether you discuss news articles, books, or politics, these conversation skills will be invaluable for high school admissions and job interviews.

Although tackling high school admissions is overwhelming, if you approach this time with these tips in mind, you will find it becomes more manageable. Best of all, the lessons and skills your child gains throughout this process will continue to serve them in the years to come.


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Author: Yasmin Castro is a Senior Site Coordinator at Breakthrough New York’s Manhattan location. Breakthrough New York transforms the lives of talented kids from low-income backgrounds by providing educational support from middle school through college. See More

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