5 Steps to Find the Right NYC High School for Your Child

New York City has many wonderful high schools, with varying approaches to education and a range of unique programs suitable for your child’s interests. It can be daunting to create a list of 12 with your child, but if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be able to find the right fit together.

1. Start even earlier than you think.

Don’t wait until it’s time for your eighth grader to apply — start touring schools as early as you can, and tour as many as possible. Begin your high school tours in seventh grade, or even in sixth grade in schools that allow it.

2. Look beyond your neighborhood.

There’s a lot to be said for attending a nearby neighborhood school, but if you broaden your geographic search, you’ll find excellent high schools scattered across the city. Look outside your community and your borough.

A note to Manhattan parents: While kids from Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and to a lesser extent, Staten Island often look at schools in Manhattan, the enthusiasm doesn’t always go the opposite way. Don’t miss out on great schools beyond your home borough!

3. Be sure you qualify.

It sounds obvious, but families make this mistake all the time, and it can really hurt your child in the admissions process. Check and double-check that your credentials match the school’s criteria for admission. Some schools have requirements around GPA, 7th grade state test scores, attendance, tardiness, and whether you went on a tour or signed up for an information session. If you list a school for which your child doesn’t meet all the criteria, you are wasting a valuable slot on your list.

4. Only include schools you truly want to attend.

Don’t include a school on your list of 12 that you absolutely don’t want your child to go to, even if it means leaving a blank spot on your list. If you do get matched with that school, it may be very difficult to transfer. If you have a number of blank spots on your list, consider broadening your criteria to find a few more suitable schools. Use free online tools like Noodle and Inside Schools to find options you may not have thought of.

5. Manage, but don’t micromanage.

Parents should be involved in the high school search process, but should avoid having a grip that’s too tight. A parent may feel strongly about a particular school, but if the student isn’t enthusiastic, the school will pick up on that and it can hurt her chances of admission. Stay engaged in the process, but remember that pushing your child to a school she doesn’t want to go to could backfire in the application process.

Check out our NYC high school search, and you can work with your child to create a list of schools that are right for your child!

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