Applying to high school in New York City is complicated, but some schools are making it even harder by giving out misleading or downright wrong information, Insideschools has learned.
Schools are telling 8th graders and their families that they must rank a school first on their application or they won't be considered for a spot, according to many parents we have heard from.
The problem is, that's not true.
"There are no schools that require students to rank the school first on their application in order to be considered," Rob Sanft, director of student enrollment at the Education Department wrote in an email. "Students should rank schools based on their order of preference. Schools do not see where an applicant ranks them on their application."
Parents tell us that during open houses many school officials say "rank us first," partly out of enthusiasm for their schools, partly because they don't know themselves how the admissions process works. "It might be the parent coordinator or the head of the parent association, or someone who doesn't know how the procedure works," said Sarah Reines, whose 8th grade daughter is applying to high school. Sometimes it's the middle school guidance counselor who gives out erroneous information.
Misleading information adds to the anxiety. "Everyone is in tizzy," Reines said. "That's what everyone is talkling about." Part of the confusion comes from the difference between middle school applications--where schools sometimes do see how you ranked them--and high school applications--where they do not.
Among the schools telling parents to rank them first iare Eleanor Roosevelt, Millennium, NYC Lab School, Kappa International and The Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction. The specialized high schools say the same thing.
Parents and students continue to pass on misinformation in what is clearly a nerve-racking process. "Does This School Has To Be My First Choice On My High School Appcautions [sic]", one student commented on It Takes a Village school profile page a few weeks ago. Another commenter chimed in: "you have to place this school as # 1 choice."
Vivian Vasquez, the Bronx mother of an 8th grader, got that message at two different high school open houses, one in the Bronx and the other in Manhattan. (She did not want us to identify the schools because her daughter is planning to apply to both of them.)
"The one in Manhattan said, 'We take students who rank us number one,'" said Vasquez. "The principal of the school in the Bronx said: 'Rank me number one. I'll only see your application if you rank us one. We' won't see the 2's, 3's and 4's. We'll only see those names that rank us one'."
If you are an 8th grader, take our advice: rank the school you most want to attend number one on your application without worrying that other schools will see that you didn't pick them first.