Eighth graders filling out their high school applications should always list schools in order of preference, Elizabeth Sciabarra explained at an Education Department high school information session. “The system is based on student choice, the high schools never get to see the order schools are listed,” she said.
About 200 rising 8th graders and their parents and guardians attended the DOE workshop, “High School Admissions: Where do I Start?” at LaGuardia High School on the Upper West Side. Sciabarra, the DOE’s former head of enrollment, led the 90-minute session. She walked through the high school admissions timeline, the choice process and explained how to apply to the nine selective specialized high schools.
The DOE handed out 2012-2013 high school directories and Sciabarra described requirements and methods of admission. For example, screened schools prioritize students with top middle school grades and stellar attendance; limited unscreened schools don't look at a student's grades but they give preference to those who go on a school tour or sign-up at a fair. She advised parents to get familiar with the timeline and high school information in the directory. “Yes, I know it’s a thick book, you should not be daunted by that,” she said.
Parent should also be thinking about college, Sciabarra suggested. A group of parents handed out a “transitions” pamphlet about moving from middle school through high school with an eye on post-secondary plans. The handout is available for download (PDF) and includes a college prep checklist, starting with 6th grade through graduation.
Sciabarra offered these tips: get to know your 8th grade guidance counselor; don’t discount the importance of extracurricular activities; don’t list schools on your application that you do not want to attend or for which you don't meet the requirements. She also hosted a Q & A for general questions about the choice process; several DOE staffers were on hand to answer more specific-to-child questions.
Insideschools had a table at the first Manhattan session and we'll be attending others as well. Please stop by and say hello.
The DOE is hosting 12 evening workshops in July, with two in each borough (see the schedule here). They’ll present the same information at each of the sessions. If you miss the summer workshops, don't worry, there is more to come: specialized high school workshops at the end of July, high school fairs and more workshops in the fall.