It's only the second week of school but 8th grade parents in the know are already signing up to tour popular high schools.
One enterprising dad began emailing parent coordinators before school started and found out that he and his daughter snagged one of the last spots on a September tour of a large Brooklyn school.
Other parents waited by their computers at noon on the day after Labor Day to register for the Bard High School Early College tours and assessments in Manhattan and Queens. Registration began promptly at 12:01 pm.
How do you sign up for the tours and visits? Unfortunately every school does things a bit differently. The giant high school directory has an "Open House Information" section. Some schools like Bayside High School in Queens and Curtis High School on Staten Island give dates and times, but many do not. They simply say to contact the school.
Your best bet is to check the school's website where dates, times, and sign-up information, will be listed on the homepage, under "admissions" or even "contact us". (There are links to most school websites on our Insideschools' profile pages.)
If you don't find anything listed, call or email the parent coordinator. Still no answer? Go to the high school fair at Brooklyn Tech on Sept. 29 and 30. Many schools distribute fliers listing open houses and tours. Sometimes you can sign up right there.
To give you a headstart in finding out about tours at the most sought-after high schools and programs -- based on the "top ten" list the Department of Education released last February -- we've done some of the legwork. Here's what we found (subject to change, of course!)
Pace High School: Saturday afternoon and weekday evening info sessions in October and November (no need to register): Oct. 16, 5-7 pm; Oct. 18, 5-7 pm, Oct. 20 (Saturday) 1-3 pm; Nov. 10 (Saturday) 1-3 pm; Nov. 15, from 5-7 pm. Nov. 17 (Saturday) from 1-3 p.m. [Note: As of Sept. 12, the school's website still listed last year's dates.]
Beacon High School: The Beacon website lists two tour dates: Oct. 4 for Manhattan and Bronx residents and Oct. 18 for students in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island; 4:30 pm both days. You don't have to register but get there early -- the line is sure to be long.
Townsend Harris High School: The open house will be on Nov. 5 from 5-7:30 pm.
Forest Hills High School: The high school directory lists Nov. 13 at 6 pm.
If you are looking for pointers of what to look for on a school tour, check out our "How to apply" page.
[updated 9/10/2012 and 9/12/2012]