Navigating the NYC High School Admissions MazeNovember 30, 2023
The process of applying to high school in New York City is difficult and overwhelming for eighth-graders and their families. With 80,000 students going through the process, each student is assigned a random number and placed in a tier based on their grade point average. They are then required to make a list of 12 schools in order of preference without much guidance. The admission requirements and processes vary greatly between schools, leading to confusion and stress for students and parents. Many parents have turned to Facebook groups and consultants for advice, perpetuating the inequality within the system.
The Education Department frequently changes the criteria for tier placement, adding an additional layer of confusion. Open houses for schools are scattered and difficult to navigate, with popular schools filling up quickly. This leaves 12- and 13-year-olds struggling to balance their interests with admissions requirements and the quality of their random number.
To improve the process, clear admissions standards should be implemented and kept consistent year after year. A common application should be used to consolidate the process, and a centralized list of open houses should be provided with more time to visit them. Meaningful help at school, including SHSAT prep, should be made more accessible to all families. Additionally, creating an app to generate a list of possible schools based on a student’s interests and qualifications would help streamline the process.
While the choice of schools in New York City is appreciated, the application process needs to be made more consistent and equitable for all students and families.