Q: My son is a senior in high school, so we have just finished with applications and testing and expensive test prep. Now I have to start worrying about my daughter, who will be entering ninth grade next year. When the New York Times magazine devotes its cover article to the "new" SAT test, it's got to be something major! I am in a panic!

A: Everyone needs to take a deep breath about the "new and improved" SAT.  The College Board is a business. It is a huge business. Yes, it is a .org and calls itself a "not-for-profit" entity. But that lack of profit comes after taking their multi-million-dollar revenues (from the PSAT, SAT, and AP exams) and subtracting their expenses. And among their expenses are tremendous salaries for those at the top of the organization. While the current head of the College Board has an annual compensation package of $750,000, his predecessor had a compensation package of $1.3 million. Many executives at the College Board have salaries over $300,000. You want to know why test fees have increased so much over the years?

All right, to be fair, the head of the ACT company gets $1.1 million. As I said, testing is big business.

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High school students looking to transfer to a different school for 10th grade face tougher odds than applicants to 9th grade. This year, only 57 percent of the 4,425 students who applied for a different school for 10th grade received offers, as compared to 90 percent of 8th graders applying to high school for the first time, according to Department of Education data.

 

The good news for all 9th graders who are unhappy with their current school is that you can apply now for a different school. There are some strong programs with openings for rising 10th-graders.

 

You must submit a new application -- with up to 12 choices -- by March 21 and you'll hear in May where you've been assigned. To find out more about your options, go to the fair at Martin Luther King Jr, High School this weekend.

 

Here are our picks for schools with space in 10th grade, according to the Department of Education’s Round 2 Program List. All seats are open to both general education students and those receiving special education services, according to the DOE’s list. For more specifics regarding openings, your best bet is to ask the school representatives at the fair.

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Wednesday, 12 March 2014 13:52

Our picks: High schools with open seats

This weekend – March 15 and 16 is the Round 2 fair in Manhattan for 8th and 9th graders who are still looking for a high school for next fall. You can meet school representatives and ask guidance counselors questions about your options. All 8th and 9th graders may apply again.

Here are some recommendations for high schools that haven’t filled their 9th grade seats, according to the Department of Education Round 2 Program List. You may also want to consider applying to one of the 10 new schools opening in the fall of 2014.

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Thursday, 13 March 2014 11:39

District 2 schools get most applications

What are an 8th grader's odds of getting accepted by the most popular New York City high school? Less than two percent at tiny Baruch College High School, which got a whopping 7,238 applications for just 111 seats this year. For the fourth year in the row, Baruch, which has a 100 percent graduation rate and screens for student grades, test scores and attendance, tops the Department of Education's list of the 20 high school programs that received the most applications. (Some huge neighborhood schools in Queens and Brooklyn get far more total applicants but the DOE ranked the list of applications by programs, not schools.)

In a repeat of the past few years, second on the list with 5,779 applicants, was Pace High School in Chinatown, followed by Eleanor Roosevelt on the Upper East Side, with 5,740 applicants. What the top three have in common is that they are all small schools located in Manhattan's District 2.  

Unlike the other boroughs, there are no large zoned high schools in Manhattan. Instead, District 2 created a series of small and successful schools which have yet to be widely replicated around the city. Five of its screened schools give priority to district students and Manhattanites, all but shutting out applicants from elsewhere. Because there are few comparable schools in other boroughs, 8th graders citywide continue to apply, even though chances of acceptance are slim. According to a SchoolBook article this week, more than 78 percent of the students offered admissions to six District 2 schools last year came from the district. For Baruch and the New York City Lab School (number 18 on the list), about 95 percent of the students accepted in 2013 came from District 2 middle schools.

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High school acceptance letters went out this week and 90 percent of 8th graders who applied got one of their choices. Of those, 84 percent got one of their top five choices. But, once again, 10 percent of the more than 77,000 applicants didn't get accepted anywhere.

If you were one of the the 7,452 8th graders who wasn't matched to a high school (or if you're unhappy with your match) it's time to consider one of the 10 new schools opening in the fall of 2014—or one of the established schools that still has space.

You can meet representatives from these schools at the second-round high school fair from 11 am to 2 pm this weekend, March 15 and 16 at the Martin Luther King Educational Campus at 66th and Amsterdam in Manhattan. You can also meet with guidance counselors at the fair to help consider your options.

You must submit a new application -- with up to 12 choices -- by March 21 and you'll hear in May where you've been assigned. If you are not matched with a school that you list in the Round 2 application, then the Department of Education will assign you to a school close to where you live. (If you were matched to a school in Round 1, submit a new application and then are matched to a different school in Round 2, you forfeit the seat offered to you in Round 1).

All 8th and 9th graders can apply in the second round, even those who didn't apply in the fall. That may be especially relevant to 9th graders who are hoping to transfer to a new school for 10th grade, but missed applying in the fall. All current 9th graders may apply for another school in the second round.

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Wednesday, 12 March 2014 16:54

Kids win one-quarter of high school appeals

A glimmer of hope for 8th graders who were rejected at their high school choices: Insideschools has learned that one-quarter of the kids who appealed their high school placements last year got a seat at one of the schools to which they originally applied.

Of the 3,028 rising 9th-graders who filed appeals last year, 761 were offered a place at one of the high schools listed on their applications, according to data released by the Department of Education in response to our request under the Freedom of Information Act. Another 783 were assigned to an alternative placement, but not a school they requested.

An appeal won't work if you were rejected at one of the specialized high schools, which require an entrance exam. And it probably won't work if you are assigned to a perfectly good, appropriate school that just doesn't happen to be your first choice--if, say, you are assigned to Bard High School Early College and you wanted Beacon.

But let's say you are assigned to a school that doesn't offer chemistry and physics and you want a college prep curriculum. In that case, you may have a shot.

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014 12:14

How to handle high school letter day March 10

by Joyce Szuflita

Sometime during the week of March 10 8th-graders will get a letter telling them where they have been accepted to high school.

Here's what normally happens: The kids at public schools are given sealed envelopes in school that hold the results of their SHSAT tests, whether they have been offered a seat at one of the specialized high schools and their match - if any - from their main 1-12 application. The kids are instructed to wait to open the letters when they get home. Yeah, right.

They are dismissed, and the second that they get outside the school building, they rip open the letters and there on the sidewalk in front of school, the full range of human emotion is played out in public; tragedy, euphoria, jealousy, hatred and deception all bathed in a river of tears.

High School Hustle columnist Liz Willen wrote about this several years ago -- in Choice and Crying Teens --  and the problem still persists. It is ugly and it is up to you to stop it. You must either convince your child NOT to open the letter in public (good luck) or you must be there to whisk them away to a safe place to celebrate or commiserate in private.

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014 17:24

College Counselor: Negotiating for more aid

Q: My two sons applied to the same college Early Action, and they have both been accepted. Since they were EA applicants, they are not obligated to enroll at that college, and they have also applied to other schools. They don't know yet where they want to go, and will probably take a while to decide, before the May 1st deadline.

But I am concerned about the amount of merit aid they have been awarded. For some reason, one of my sons received an award of $40,000 merit aid, while the other one, who had a slightly higher GPA and slightly higher SATs, received $0. Unfortunately, it's this second son who is more interested in the school. At what point do I approach the school, and ask them if they will review their merit aid? Do I wait until he's sure he wants to go there? If it's in April, will that be too late?

A: I don't have enough information to know why one of your sons was made a generous offer, while the other has been offered nothing. It sounds like you have no idea, either. Does one son have stronger courses than the other? Or a special talent – such as in athletics or music -- that has been rewarded? You deserve to know the answer.

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Wednesday, 15 January 2014 16:07

Event: Taking the fear out of financial aid

Taking the Fear Out of Financial Aid: Making Higher Education Easier to Achieve for NYC Students

This event, presented by the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School, home of Insideschools.org, is still happening tomorrow (Thursday) morning! Flooding at the university has not affected our event space.

Securing college financial aid can be intimidating for NYC students. Aid is crucial for low-income and first generation college students—but they need help, particularly navigating the government's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), finding grants and loans and working with college aid offices. Experts say the system is needlessly complicated and should be reformed. Join the Center for New York City Affairs for the release of its latest "FAFSA: How-To Guide for High School Students" and a discussion about what needs to happen nationally and locally to ensure that the next generation of college students can afford to matriculate.

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Q: A lot of my friends spent almost all winter break working on college applications that were due January 1. But I am applying to several schools that have "rolling" decisions, and some of them say they will take applications as late as April. So am I right to take it easy and get my applications in later? What's the big hurry?

A: You may not be in a hurry, but colleges are eager to know if they will enroll a full first-year class. On the one hand, "rolling" policies seem flexible – you apply when you want, as long as it's before the deadline, and you get a response as soon as it's ready. But on the other hand, this also means that a college may fill all its available spots earlier than expected. When that happens, the last students who submit their applications may find themselves on a "wait list." That is not a pleasant situation.

A couple of years ago this happened with a CUNY - LaGuardia Community College.  Students who thought they'd have no trouble being admitted learned that more people than anticipated had applied, filling the class early. Those students had to wait to see if they could get into a different CUNY school instead.

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