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If your 12-year-old is completing 7th grade this week, it's time for you to start thinking about high school. Here's what you and your rising 8th-grader can do this summer.
Schools are handing out the 2012-2013 directory of high schools (now online) before summer vacation. If your child doesn't bring one home. you can pick one up at the nearest enrollment office. You'll will find information about every high school in the city including: what it takes to get in, what time school starts for freshman, whether there is a dress code, and the number of students who applied and were accepted last year. You can also see the school's graduation rate.
To introduce middle school families to the complex admissions process, the Department of Education enrollment office is offering evening workshops, two in every borough betwen July 12 and 19. Rather than a series of workshops offering different admissions topics, all 10 sessions will present the same information so there's no need to attend more than one. There are two additional two workshops, about the specialized high schools only, on July 24 at Prospect Heights High School in Brooklyn and July 26 at LaGuardia High School in Manhattan.
For parents who have not gone through the high school admissions process, the workshops can be very informative. For most city residents the days of sending your 13-year-old to the neighborhood high school are long gone. Even if you think you know how it works, listening to other parents' questions and answers can be constructive. And, you'll be more prepared when admissions season ratchets up in September for the round of school visits, auditions, and tests.
And for more help, make sure to watch our Insideschools videos: Specialized high schools, How to apply to high school, How to apply to an audition school, Weighing your options: long trip vs short trip, and videos spotlighting individual high schools.
The gigantic high school fair, introducing you to representatives from all schools in the city, will be held on Sept. 29-30; fairs for schools in each borough on Oct. 13-14. Before you go, be sure to watch our video, Making the most of the high school fairs
What else should you be doing this summer to help prepare your 8th-grader? Check out Liz Willen's posts on High School Hustle about how to study for the specialized high school exam, the perils of choice, the ins and outs of visiting schools, and more. They which include many thoughtful comments and suggestions about schools by parents.
Q. My first year of college, ten years ago, was pretty bad – I ended up with a 1.9 GPA. Then I went into the military, and took some courses during this time. I did well, and got a B+ average. Now I want to transfer into nursing school, but with the low grades from that first year, my average is still only a 2.87. Could I simply not send that earlier transcript?
A: You are not the same person you were ten years ago. A decade in military service has given you experience, knowledge, and perspective. You are obviously more focused now, and most colleges and universities will be happy to give you another chance at earning your baccalaureate degree.
However, both the credits you may receive and the admissions decision will depend upon the institution and the program to which you apply. Even if you have a solid B+ average, I cannot guarantee that a specific nursing school will accept you. Ultimately, the ball is in their court. Here is what you ought to do:
Offer letters for public school pre-kindergarten slots went out this week and once again about one-third of the families of four-year-olds were disappointed. In a year when there were more applicants than ever -- 29,072 as compared to 28,815 in 2011 -- there were only 22,505 seats. About 70 percent of the applicants got offers to a morning, afternoon or full-day program, but 30 percent did not.
That's a slightly higher percentage than in 2011, according to Education Department statistics, mostly because there are several hundred more seats available this year. Families who got a placement may register now through June 22.
There are still seats available for full-day and half-day programs -- 10 percent of the seats remain unfilled, including 1,371 spots in the more desirable full day programs. A list of schools that may have open seats is posted on the DOE's website.
Not surprisingly, there are no pre-kindergarten openings in a few of the most sought-after and crowded districts. There are no schools with open seats in Manhattan's District 2; only one school has seats in District 15 in Brownstone Brooklyn and neighboring District 20. In District 26 in Queens, generally the highest performing in the city, only one school has openings for a half-day program. District 4 in East Harlem and District 5 in Central Harlem, have numerous schools with availability in full-day programs. District 6, covering northern Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood has seats only in afternoon programs. Many schools have open slots in Brooklyn's districts 19, 21 and 22. In the Bronx, districts 7 and 12 list the most schools with openings in full-day programs. Five Staten Island schools have openings only in afternoon programs.
Families who wish to be on a waitlist for a slot must contact each school starting Monday, June 18. As spots open up, they will be given out through a lottery, with preference first to zoned students with a sibling in the school, then to zoned students and then to students with a sibling who lives in the district.
Only children in those three categories will be offered open seats before September 21.
This week's offers were for public school programs; there are thousands of seats available at community organizations and daycare centers which have a separate application process.
For the full breakdown of school-based pre-kindergarten admissions from 2008-2012, click the graphic above.
(updated 4:30 p.m. with a link to schools that still have seats available)
Pre-k acceptance letters are going out today via email and regular mail, and pre-registration runs from June 12 - 22. Getting a seat in a full-day program can save thousands of dollars in child care costs. It can also provide a great mix of play and learning. If you didn't get into the program you wanted - or any program - you have some options.
As spots open up, they will be given out through a lottery, with preference first to zoned students with a sibling in the school, then to zoned students and then to students with a sibling who lives in the district.
I'll be giving advice to 7th grade parents in Queens at a free workshop on "how to choose a high school" sponsored by City Councilman Mark Weprin. The date is Wednesday, June 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. The address is Middle School 74Q, 61-15 Oceania Street, Bayside.
Insideschools reporters Laura Zingmond and Gail Robinson--who have visited numerous high schools in Queens--will be on hand to answer your questions. We'll tell you about zoned high schools, specialized schools like Bronx High School of Science and LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, selective schools like Townsend Harris, as well as some up-and-coming schools you may not have heard of. We'll also give tips on how to weigh your options. Do you want a large or small school? A school that's close to home or far awav? We'll help you decide what's best for your child.
For questions, contact Council Member Mark Weprin’s office at (718) 468-0137.
Can't come? Take a look at our YouTube videos on how to apply to high school.
While many boys his age were playing video games or sports, a 14-year-old from Bangladesh spent every Saturday afternoon since last summer studying math and English at Khan’s Tutorial, a test preparation center in Jamaica, Queens.
Joydeep Baidya, an 8th grader in Intermediate School 238 in Jamaica, said he had no regrets, when he found out in late March that he scored 592 out of a possible 800 on the New York City Specialized High School Admissions Test, high enough to gain admission into Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s top public high schools.
“For the period leading to the test, the priority was not fun,” said Baidya, who moved to New York just three years ago. “It was to pass the test.”
Baidya is one of the 161 students at Khan’s Tutorial this year who secured a spot in the much-coveted specialized high schools in New York City. The majority of the 200 students who registered at Khan to prep for this year’s test were born in Bangladesh or are children of Bangladeshi parents. Just like their Chinese and Korean counterparts, Bangladeshi families put great emphasis on education and testing is deeply rooted in their culture. The students are quietly becoming sought after by test prep centers in Queens and beyond.
According to Ivan Khan, Chief Operating Officer of Khan’s Tutorial, the test prep center has been sending more than 100 students to the specialized high school every year since 2005. About 30,000 8th and 9th graders take the test every October, and roughly 5,400 are offered admission into one of the eight elite schools, including Stuyvesant, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School. Khan said the enrollment in his center has gone up 20 percent this year and he had opened two new branches just within last two years.
In recent years, Asians have made up the majority in the city’s specialized high schools. Stuyvesant’s 3,300 students in grades 9 to 12 are 72 percent Asian, 24 percent white, 2.4 percent Hispanic and 1.2 percent black. Although the majority of the Asian students are either Chinese or Korean, the Bangladeshis are making impressive progress.
“When I went to Bronx Science, there were maybe six or seven Bangladeshi students per grade,” said Khan, class of 1999. According to one of his former students, Ishraq Chowdhury, class of 2012 at Bronx Science, about 13 to 15 percent of the school’s total population of about 3,000 students are of Bangladeshi descent. The school did not return requests to confirm the numbers.
One obvious reason is the rapid growth of immigrants from Bangladesh. According to census statistics, the number of Bangladeshi immigrants has grown more than10 times in the last two decades, from about 5,000 in 1990 to close to 60,000 in 2010. New York City is their number one destination.
Nazli Kibria, a professor of sociology at Boston University who studies the Bangladeshi diaspora in the U.S., said most Bangladeshi immigrants left their country to improve ther economic and educational opportunities.
“It is a driving force,” said Kibria. “The emphasis on education gives meaning to their immigration to this country.”
The London-born Khan spent a year and a half of his youth in Bangladesh. He said performing well in school is a source of pride and joy for Bangladeshi families.
And the emphasis on education cuts across class lines. According to Khan, many parents who send their children to his test prep center are blue-collar workers, ranging from cab drivers and restaurant workers to shopkeepers.
“But the drive to help their children get into one of the most competitive schools is just as strong as middle-class parents,” said Khan.
Among the Bangladeshi-run test prep centers, Khan’s Tutorial is the largest and most established. Founded in Jackson Heights in 1994 by Khan’s father, a former public school math teacher and assistant principal, it now operates in six locations in New York City and one in Long Island. The newest location in Astoria opened last year. It has attracted many non-Bangladeshi students, including Eastern Europeans and Middle Easterners. In addition to the program for specialized high schools, Khan’s also offers prep programs for the SAT, Regents Exams, Advanced Placement courses, and summer programs for kindergartners through sixth graders.
“We advertise through the Bangladeshi satellite television that goes out to the rest of the country,” said Khan, referring to Bengali-language satellite channels made available through the Dish Network in the U.S. “Now we even get requests from California. But we want to maintain the quality so we have no plans to expand outside of New York.”
On a recent Sunday afternoon, dozens of students were getting ready for the upcoming Regents Exam in Khan’s modest four-room center located above a Bangladeshi deli and Guyanese restaurant on Hillside Avenue in a commercial section of Jamaica. Many of the 17 seventh graders in Roman Patwary’s math class had their hands up, eager to solve an algebra problem on the blackboard. In the room next door, students of various ages worked with tutors in small groups on English and math exercises. Many instructors and tutors in the prep center are former Khan’s students who went to specialized high schools themselves.
Instructors say their center prepares students “for a future of standardized tests.” Niloy Iqbal, a premed student at New York University who has been teaching at Khan’s since 2009, ticked off all the exams students need to enter professional schools in medicine, law and pharmacology.
Meanwhile, Iqbal said the content for the specialized high school test does not go beyond what students learn in school.
“The material is taught in school,” said Iqbal, who attended Khan’s and got into Stuyvesant. “It’s just the way they pose the questions. It’s forcing the students to think critically.”
Khan’s charges a flexible rate of $75 per week for a four-hour session. Students received a reduced rate if they sign up for long-term classes. The center offers a $3,500 package of 52 sessions and 20 workshops that comes with a guarantee of admission into a specialized high school. Khan said about 90 percent of the 80 students who signed up for the package were accepted into one of the eight specialized high schools. Those who are not accepted receive a one-month compensation course to prepare for next year. Meanwhile, Khan’s also offers help for them to get into other selective public schools such as Bard College High School Early College or Midwood High School.
Khan’s Tutorial has begun to advertise in more low-income communities which historically have a low number of students in specialized high schools. In March, Khan’s launched a 12-week SAT prep program in partnership with the Bedford Central Presbyterian Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn at about half price.
When asked about options for students whose families cannot afford even the discounted rate, Khan said there is a free city-run program for eligible students. New York Specialized High School Institute, a 22-month test prep program, is available for 6th and 7th graders who receive free lunch, have good grades and attendance records. They also need to have at least average on state math and English exams.
For the ambitious Baidya, getting into Stuyvesant is just the beginning of his academic journey.
“I want to be an architect,” Baidya said, adding that his number one college choice is Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He said he plans to take advantage of Stuyvesant’s participation in the Youth in Engineering and Science (YES) Summer Research Program and MIT Summer Research Science Institute.
But his test prep days at Khan’s aren’t likely to end anytime soon. “I heard the SAT is difficult,” said Baidya. “I will probably be back for it.”
Larry Tung, Class of 2012, was a student in LynNell Hancock's Covering Education seminar at Columbia Journalism School. You can read more of the class's stories here.
My daughter is an 8th grader who has been on the honor roll since grammar school. I find it appalling that a child of her intelligence did not get accepted into a program of her choice, because it was decided that the schools were better off being run by lottery. My daughter is made to feel like she doesn't add up and is in some way a failure, because her name was not picked from a computer. There is something wrong when a student who has always received grades averaging 90 is not accepted, yet another student who received a final grade of 55 in Language Arts makes it in and does not even want to attend the school. Please help me to get her in to the school that she so wants to attend. Thank you.
Up in Arms
Dear Up in Arms
Your first job is to help your daughter feel better about not getting into the high school program of her choice. If I were you, I would keep emphasizing that she was not personally rejected—it is the random choice of a faceless computer that is to blame.
I assume that you went through the appeals process and are also keeping your eye on the wait list, if there is one at the school. And I suspect you have already engaged the guidance counselor to help your daughter. Of course, there are other avenues of redress. Send your letter to Bonnie Gross, director of Queens high school enrollment. You can call her as well (212) 374-0291. Be sure to send a copy to Leonard Treretola, Director of High School Enrollment; Robert Sanft, Director of Enrollment; and the Chancellor, Dennis Walcott. All are at 52 Chambers Street, New York, NY, 10007. Some districts have district family advocates who work with high school issues only. Check with your district to see if this is another option.
Meanwhile, try to emphasize the good features of the school in which she was placed. If there are simply none, and your appeal did not work out, use the end of August high school enrollment center (not yet announced where and when) as a last ditch effort. Who knows what spaces may be available then.
Good luck and remind your daughter that as a smart, hardworking person, she will be a success wherever she goes to school.
I am a new immigrant living in New York City. I graduated from high school in Bangladesh in 2010, and now I want to apply to a college here. Is there any time limit about applying to college in the US after finishing high school?
A: Don't worry! You are in good company in New York City. A large percentage of high school graduates here are from outside the United States. The last time I taught a course at a CUNY college, 50% of my students had come from other countries, and this diversity lent a very exciting aspect to our class discussions!
It does not matter whether you graduated from high school two years ago or 20 years ago. As long as you meet the admissions requirements, you are qualified to apply. CUNY schools do have requirements. For example, applicants must have a certain number of years of mathematics, science, social studies, and so forth. You will also need to present test scores from the SAT or ACT.
My advice is to make an appointment with an admissions office staff member at your closest CUNY branch and ask if your credentials will meet the requirements. Bring not only your diploma but also your transcript or any other listing of the academic courses you took. If you do not meet all the requirements for one of the four-year CUNY colleges, you could start at one of the two-year community colleges, and then later transfer to a four-year school.
There are deadlines for applying to colleges in the U.S., and these usually range from January to March, for studies beginning the following fall season. So most schools in NYC are already fully enrolled for the fall. But you may be able to begin your studies in the spring semester, starting next January. Again, speaking to someone at a CUNY admissions office will give you this information.
New York City provides many opportunities to anyone who wishes to pursue higher education. The best of luck to you in your quest!
The New York Times recently ran the second piece in a series called A System Divided. The series aims to "...examine the changing racial distribution of students in New York City's public schools and its impact on their opportunities and achievements." The article, "Why Don't We Have Any White Kids?" is a great piece that among other things informs the reader that integration has been shown to have positive effects on young children. From my own personal experience, I believe that is true.
I grew up in a West Texas town with a large Mexican population. In 1977, when I was set to enter second grade, the state began a program of integration of public schools, and in this case it took the form of forced busing. In my neighborhood most of us walked to school, and I vividly recall the first day when a dusty yellow school bus pulled up and let out a group of children who quietly followed the principal into the cafeteria. After school, when my mother came home from work, the first thing I said to her was "Mommy today all the Mexicans came to school." My mother looked at me and replied, "What do you think you are?" Without speaking to the family pathology behind that exchange (it's a long story) what I can say is that I was raised in a home where Spanish was not spoken and race was rarely mentioned. My seven-year-old self received a good little shock. My curiosity about the group of children who came on the bus grew.
I ended up becoming friends with a few of the children, and I still remember them well. I went to their homes, homes where no English was spoken. I ate their food and played with them and through them and their families I found my Mexican heritage. I still remember their names: Ana, who had five older sisters. I loved to watch them brushing or fixing each other's hair or arguing with their grandmother about staying out late; Benny, a shy slight child whose father dropped him off in a beat up red Chevy pick truck. Once, there were chickens in the back, and Benny dragged us over to see them. Those moments stayed with me all these years.
In childhood identity can be a mutable thing. Through play, children take on and off roles in ways adults can't or won't. How do you instill acceptance of differences and pride of self? Get them while they're young. By not acknowledging a Mexican identity, my parents did me a disservice. Thanks to integration I cobbled together a greater sense of myself.
A pilot for the city's new test prep program to help low-income students qualify for the elite specialized high schools has shown improved results.
About 30 percent of the students – from predominately black and Caribbean schools - who began the pilot DREAM, Specialized High School Institute as 6th graders got offers to a specialized school after taking the test in 2011. The rate of acceptances for black and Latino students in the previous program was about 20%.
The Department of Education, politicians and advocates have long been disturbed by the low number of black and Hispanic students enrolled at the city’s elite specialized high schools. Over the years they have looked at ways to increase the numbers without changing the exam that determines admission at one of the eight schools.
In the DREAM pilot, instruction focused more on test-taking skills, critical thinking and time-saving strategies than previous courses, according to the DOE. There was also "robust teacher professional development and coaching" and a reporting system that allowed teachers to tailor instruction to individual students, concentrating on areas of weaknesses. In other changes designed to improve the retention rate, more test prep sites have been set up. Now the 18 programs are district-based, making it easier for students to attend. Participants are provided with MetroCards and free lunches.
This year, DREAM will also include more students than the previous program (SHSI), enrolling 2,600 6th and 7th graders – up from 932 6th graders last year. The program may be expanded even further in the future, beginning in 5th grade.
Still, the higher success rate for black and Hispanic test-takers didn't allow them to catch up with Asian and white SHSI participants. In 2011, 62 percent of Asians who took the now-defunct SHSI prep course received a specialized offer as did 39 percent of white students.
The SHSI program, started in 1995, was primarily aimed at increasing the number of black and Hispanic students at specialized high schools. Since 2009, admission has been determined by income level, not race. As a result, a significantly higher percentage of Asian students and far fewer Hispanics enrolled. In 2011, the percentage of Asian students jumped to 45 percent from 16 percent in 2009 while Hispanics dropped to 24 percent from 42 percent over the same period.
In the first year of DREAM, which began on May 5, 40 percent students are Asian, 26 percent are Hispanic, 21 percent are black and 12 percent are white, according to the DOE.
(City high school students overall are 17 percent Asian, 39 percent Hispanic, 30 percent black and 13 percent white.)
This year 6,232 6th and 7th graders qualified for 2,600 slots. (There are about 5,800 freshmen seats in the specialized schools that base admissions on the exam.) Eligible students must meet academic and income guidelines. Because there are more qualified students than spaces available, students were chosen randomly in district-based lotteries. Students who didn’t get in were placed on a waitlist.
The $1.2 million program is paid for by Title 1 federal money.
2012 offers to specialized high schools by ethnicity (below) show that blacks and Hispanics trail Asian and white students in gaining acceptance. The chart does not indicate which students were enrolled in the SHSI or pilot DREAM program.