Hunter College High School
NEW YORK NY 10128 Map
Hunter College High School
Hunter College High School, administered by the City University of New York, is a highly successful, very selective school that prepares its students for the country's most elite colleges. It's known particularly for its strength in the humanities, but it also offers high-level math and science courses. Hunter also has an unusually strong program in music and art. The drama department offers students the chance to write and perform their own plays and musicals.
Classes are smaller than most public high schools, with 25 students in a typical class, compared with 34 in other city high schools. The student body includes students whose parents could afford private school and those from families poor enough to qualify for free lunch. About half the Hunter parents were born outside the United States. Hunter High School accepts children from all five boroughs, and many students come from Queens.
It's a competitive place, where lots of kids are chronically sleep-deprived by mountains of homework and long commutes. But the administration has taken steps to make the place more humane. An all-school hiking trip to Bear Mountain builds school spirit, while community service—whether tutoring younger children at other schools or planting a community garden—shows students there is more to life than academics. “There’s been so much emphasis on academics,” said Principal Tony Fisher. “We want more emphasis on being a good citizen. We ask them how they are going to use their brains to make the world a better place.”
Fisher says he is encouraging the 7th and 8th grade teachers to do "less lecturing, more group work and more hands-on activities" and to spread out due dates for projects and exams so they aren’t all due on the same day. The teaching style is traditional for the most part. There is more emphasis on writing and class discussion than at a typical public high school.
College admissions: Although there was some turnover in staff at the time of our visit, the guidance department has traditionally offered an unusual level of attention to juniors and seniors as they navigate college admissions. Kids get into top colleges, not only the Ivy League, but also highly selective schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rhode Island School of Design. The Wall Street Journal has listed Hunter as one of the top schools in the country public or private in terms of admission to highly selective colleges.
Special education: Hunter has a full-time learning specialist who works with students who are "twice exceptional," that is, intellectually gifted with challenges such as autism or hearing loss. Fewer than a dozen students have IEPs, and another dozen or so receive 504 accommodations, such as extra time on tests.
After school: Public School Athletic League (PSAL) teams include volleyball, soccer, swimming, track wrestling and tennis.
Admissions: Children who score in the 90th percentile or above on the standardized reading and math tests given in 5th grade are eligible to take the entrance exam in January of their 6th-grade year. (The cutoff scores have varied in the past.) Well over 2,000 kids take the exam each year; 150 are offered admission. Nearly all 6th graders at Hunter Elementary stay at the school through high school. Call the school for details about admissions procedures for special education and economically disadvantaged students. (Clara Hemphill, May 2011)