Warning to anyone who is awaiting results of the latest round of high school admissions: It's not going to be over soon.
You may wonder what that means. After all, if you've done the required homework, you've probably taken numerous tours of New York City High schools, endured tryout anxiety with your child, and possibly used vacation time for tours. Perhaps you've even shelled out hundreds of dollars on specialized test tutoring for the specialized high schools and discussed how to rank certain schools.
You've already calculated commute times and weighed the odds of admission in seemingly endless discussions with other parents, teachers and students.
As you contemplate the options and wonder when decisions will be announced (The Department of Education can keep mysterious and movable timetables) you have open houses to look forward to, along with the possibility of challenging the match or getting no placement and visiting even more schools in a supplementary round.
Hopefully, all will work out and there will be at least some resolution to the madness, before it's time to get used to new rhythms, routines and expectations.
You'll have about a year.
Starting sophomore year, expect the question to come fast and furious from caring friends, relatives, colleagues and family members:
"So where does he/she want to go to college?"
So much for living in the moment, which is the place the teenagers in my household dwell.
The college question assumes that young teenagers, having survived the grueling New York City public school admissions process, are eager to contemplate the next step. Years of being told they need good grades in middle school to get into a good high school may have left them burnt out and uninterested in the next option. They may feel they've already spent their entire childhood searching for schools
Add to queries about where they want to go (expect blank stares or meaningless answers because they often come long before a student has visited a single college) come suggestions about SAT test prep, followed by what may seem at times to be intrusive questions about test scores, class rank and geographical preferences.
Notices about college fairs, along with email reminders and suggestions about test prep options from the high school start to pile up, as well they should.
None of this surprises me, as I've been writing about college admissions and higher education for years. I am brand new to the assault of college mail and pricey prep offers that come in junior year, and have so far been greeted with shrugs by a son who cannot believe we are really serious about all this college talk. After attending his first three-hour long SAT prep course last weekend, he came away with the following observation:
"I really hate the SAT's."
Not a promising beginning, but it also came on the same weekend as preparation for finals and midterms. Dissecting hard, medium and easy SAT questions probably didn't seem like the best use of a Sunday afternoon.
A colleague who attained perfect board scores without tutors and pricey test prep classes managed to study vocabulary words and take hours of practice tests on his own. Not all students have that kind of discipline, though.
I have been wondering if it's possible to get through this latest round of madness without spending a whole lot of money better used for tuition. Insideschools.org would like to ask how New York City public school students and their parents handling the newest demands of college admissions.
Feel free to swap test prep and survival tips.