The Search: New York City High School Choice

We offer advice on how to trim down the list of high schools you think have potential to help elevate your child's academic success.

High schools in New York are as diverse as the city itself. So how do you whittle the directory of 400 schools down to 12? Here are a few tricks to help you get started:

Location, Location, Location

The first thing you want to consider is your commute. It is hard to stay after school to talk with teachers, attend club meetings, or participate in sports when you face a monster trip home each night. Students should make sure their time spent on the train or bus isn’t getting in the way of extracurricular activities a high school has to offer. What is the point of finding an academically challenging school with a chess team if you have to miss chess tournaments in order to make a long commute home to crank out two hours of homework? Plug in your zip code and slide the dial on the Noodle search function to reflect a distance close to you. Start with ten miles, see how many results you get, and adjust from there.

Academic Programs and Extracurriculars

No one school is going to offer every single thing a student is interested in, but some may come close! Use the Noodle search filters to find the schools with the programs, clubs and sports that most interest you.

NYC High School Search Interface

In the example above, I’m searching for a school with a computer science program that is seven miles or less from the zip code 10005. If I wanted to drill down even further, I could add another filter to find a school that suits my interests: say, math club and a badminton team.

Share Your List & Get Feedback

Once you come across a school that meets many of your search criteria, save it to your list! The list feature enables you to compare the schools you are interested in, share them with family, friends, and advisors, and get feedback. On the high school application, you will rank their school choices in order of preference. Use this feature to create a long preliminary list of schools to consider. Write notes, mark favorites, and keep tabs on every school matching your interests.

NYC High School Sample List

A Closer Look

Once you have a good list, it’s time to do a deep dive. Check out the school profiles, then find out when the school is hosting its next open house and sign up.

Open Houses

Remember that while reading about schools is a great starting point, nothing can come close to experiencing the school in person and meeting students, teachers and administrators. Not every school requires students to visit an open house, but for many popular schools, having visited will help during the application process. There are many aspects of a school that cannot be captured on paper. Only by visiting can students get a sense of the community and atmosphere of a school. Make time to at least visit your top choices!

Insider Tip: Students who are interested in a career field that requires a college degree or higher will need to make sure the high schools on their list offer challenging academics and college guidance. Look for schools that offer more than four Advanced Placement courses, a College Now program or the International Baccalaureate program. Also take a good look at each high school’s four-year graduation rate and post-secondary enrollment rate to ensure the schools you’re considering are preparing graduates for a successful college career.

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