New York City High School Admissions 2023-2024
Parents in New York know that there are a few periods in their child’s education when they have to make big decisions. Childcare is usually the first education challenge many parents first deal with. Then comes pre-k, perhaps a mid-season school change, Kindergarten, and if lucky, we will have a bit of a break during the elementary school years until Middle School has to be tackled.
When it comes to high school, our kids’ choices are pretty vast. Your child may have had an education primarily in public school, but now that you know more of your child’s strengths or what type of school you are looking for, you may decide to go private, charter, or stay the public school route. Here is the best part. Yes, we are looking at the bright side of this intense process. There are many options. Yes, picking the right high school is a huge decision- and frankly, it is up there with college admission stress which is why we have broken down how the High School Admission process works, in hopes it helps you when applying for High Schools.
Breaking Down the High School Application Process
Last month, more than one million students returned to the New York City public schools, the country’s most extensive public school system. Though the year is just beginning, middle school students are already considering the application process for attending a New York City high school. In most school districts, students attend whichever public high school they are zoned to, with the opportunity to apply for a private or charter school if they choose. Because of the massive size of the New York City public school system, all students are required to apply for a high school while in eighth grade (current ninth graders who are not repeating the ninth grade can apply to a new school as well). If a student does not submit an application for high school, they will be offered admission to the closest program with available room. While the process can feel daunting, this guide to all things New York City high schools can be a tool to navigating this system.
Types of High Schools
There are four main types of high schools in New York City: public schools, private schools, religious/parochial schools, and nine Specialized High Schools. Any student who resides in New York City can apply to attend any charter, private, or Specialized School, or to a public school in their district zone, using a ranking system that lists up 12 schools or programs of interest in order of preference. Public, private, and charter schools admit students based on criteria that vary from school to school. These criteria can include middle school grades, income level, learning English as a second language, geographical proximity to a school, and position within a priority group. Who qualifies for which priority groups also varies between schools. Likewise, every program has a set number of seats available for students with disabilities (abbreviated as SWD) and for general education students (GE), and this number is noted when checking a school’s eligibility criteria.
There are nine specialized high schools in the city that cater to different strengths and needs. They are The Bronx High School of Science; The Brooklyn Latin School; Brooklyn Technical High School; High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at City College; High School for American Studies at Lehman College; Queens High School for the Sciences at York College; Staten Island Technical High School; Stuyvesant High School; and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. To be considered for the one of the first eight schools, students must take the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). For admittance to LaGuardia, students are considered based on an audition for one of the school’s six programs.
Regardless of what type of school a student is applying to, there is a timeline of necessary steps to take to achieve an offer letter from a school.
If a student wants to apply to a Specialized High School, they must register and sit for the Specialized High School Admission Test, or prepare and submit an audition. Historically, the SHSAT has been administered in October. Still, due to ongoing complications from the COVID-19 pandemic, dates are subject to change, so it’s essential to stay up to date with news from the Department of Education.’
By wintertime, students can begin submitting applications through MySchools, a school counselor, or a NYC DOE-sponsored Family Welcome Center. For the school year beginning in fall of 2022, high school applications were due by the 1st of March. In April or May, before the end of the school year, schools make offers of admissions to accepted students and place some students on their waitlists. (The Specialized High Schools do not have waitlists.) Once waitlists are open, any student can add their name to the list, but admission priority is given to waitlisted students who placed the school on their original application ranking. If a student is unhappy with the placement they are given, they can appeal the decision or wait to see if they are offered a seat off of any waitlists. Once a student accepts a spot at a program, they are ready to begin their high school journey and prepare for the school year ahead.
Private High Schools Admissions
For Private Schools, most deadlines are in mid-January, but each school is unique; most Catholic Schools open Admissions on December 1st. Luckily New York offers excellent private schools, many of which provide financial aid, and we strongly recommend looking into this route. If you are interested in going the private route, once you have an idea of the school you’re interested in, contact this school immediately or go to their website for school tours or any informational opportunities that will help you make your decisions.
Take a deep breath. Since picking a high school in New York City can be just as complicated as applying to college, the process can be stressful and overwhelming for students and parents. Beginning research early, staying in contact with eighth-grade counselors, and utilizing MySchools(if going the public school route) are all steps to clarify the path to high school.