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Audition schools

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Audition schools are among the most popular. Auditions are held in the fall. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, one of the specialized schools, is the most selective. Some children prepare for these auditions at the Summer Arts Institute, a free four-week program. When you tour the school, don’t forget to check out the academics. Even a star actor needs to take algebra and biology! 

Here are some of the audition schools:

  • LaGuardia
  • Talent Unlimited
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Celia Cruz
  • TAPCO
  • Professional Performing Arts School
  • Gramercy Arts
  • Brooklyn High School of the Arts

Some large neighborhood schools offer topnotch arts programs and also require an admission. Some examples are:

  • Murrow
  • Bayside
  • Cardozo
  • Forest Hills
  • Fort Hamilton
  • Curtis

Next consider: large or small?

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Next consider whether you want a school that is large or small. Large schools have more courses, sports, arts programs, foreign languages. But you’ll get more personal attention at a small school, where everyone knows your name. The college office may be better at a small school, because there are so many fewer students to deal with.

Fast-track, or a more relaxed paced? How much homework can you handle? Fast-paced schools may have three or four hours of homework a night, as well as long projects to complete during school vacations. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for fun, but it may prepare you well for college. Other schools believe it’s more important to study a few subjects in depth than to race through the curriculum. Some kids want time for sports, performing arts or simple relaxation. For these students, a school with a more relaxed pace is better. Beware: If you plan to go to college, beware of schools that don’t offer a college prep curriculum. Some schools only offer three years of math and three years of science, for example, while selective colleges require four years of each.

How to appeal

If you are placed at a school that is inappropriate, ask your guidance counselor to file an appeal. While the initial placements are made by computer, human beings handle the appeals. Your guidance counselor may write a letter explaining why you need a different placement: get her on your side.

Reasons for an appeal You'll have the most luck with the following reasons:

Change of address, also known as "transportation hardship" (Your new address is at least 75 minutes distance from school. Or, the school's new address is at least 75 minutes from your home.)

Medical issue - you'll need documentation from your doctor showing that you have a medical condition that could keep you from attending your assigned school.

Lack of appropriate special education services or accommodations at the matched school.  Appeals for special needs students are granted primarily for students who need a specialized program that the assigned school doesn't offer, such as an ASD program for children on the autism spectrum, or a District 75 programl. 

Data entry error - your guidance counselor made a mistake when submitting your application.

Desire to attend one of the new small high schools (if the school's formation was announced after the official application process)

Safety - you'll need documentation, such as a police report or order of protection, to show why it would be unsafe for you to attend the assigned school. 

There is also a category for "other" appeals, a catch-all category where you'll get a chance to explain why you want another school. This is the place to bring up anything that was missing from your first application, such as a big leap in your grades. Or, maybe you'd prefer to stay at your present 6-12 school than go to the school that accepted you.   If the school to which you were assigned does not have a college-preparatory curriculum, or advanced academics, that may be grounds for appeal as well. 

If you are not placed

Every year, thousands of children are not placed at any of their high school choices—usually through no fault of their own. There simply aren’t enough good schools for all the students who want to attend them. If you are one of the students who is not placed, enlist the help of your 8th grade guidance counselor. It’s her responsibility to make sure you get assigned to an appropriate school. You will need to go to the supplemental high school fair, held in March, and fill out your application one more time. If you are assigned to a school you really don’t like you may appeal.

Other options

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There are hundreds of other schools in the city from which to choose. You may list up to 12 schools on your application.  Some schools, called screened schools, require high grades and good attendance records. Some accept everyone who lives in their attendance zone. Others accept students by lottery.

Some of these high schools, like Bard High School Early College, Townsend Harris in Queens, Hunter College High School and Beacon, are just as selective as the specialized schools. Others accept everyone who applies. Some tips:

  • Screened schools care about your attendance. Good attendance in 7th grade is crucial.
  • Be sure you are eligible to attend a school before you put it on your list. If you live in Brooklyn, don’t list a school that only accepts Manhattan students. If your grades are poor, don’t list a school that only accepts kids with grades of 90 or above.
  • Don’t list a school you are not willing to attend. If you are placed at a school you originally listed, it’s very hard to appeal.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools offer students a certificate that demonstrates they have mastered certain jobs skills as well as a regular high school diploma. These certificates are in fields such as agriculture, business and marketing, health occupations and computer technology. Students who may plan to work directly after high school may want to consider a CTE school.

Monday, 27 June 2011 17:03

Free programs

Written by Chris French

New York City offers children and teens a wide range of after-school and summer activities--from paid museum internships to free science research programs. The free and low cost programs listed here are a great way to explore new interests, get extra support, and supplement what is being taught during the school day. This list is not exhaustive, and we welcome your feedback and additions. Send your suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Math

After-school and summer programs that focus on math are a great way to supplement what your child is learning in the classroom.

New York City offers a variety of programs for children who are struggling with math or those who are already excelling. Teens with good grades and a passion for math should consider a summer camp or a college class. Kids who need help memorizing multiplication tables may want to try MathABC.com, a free website loaded with drills. For the math-phobic child who is struggling to catch-up to the math-lover who can’t get enough, here is a list of free and low-cost programs.

This list is not exhaustive, and we welcome your feedback and additions. Send your suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All Star Code Summer Institute

What
A 6-week Summer Institute designed to educate, inspire, and equip participants with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to pursue paths leading to academics and/or careers in the technology and engineering sectors
Who
High school boys of color
Details
Participants receive hands-on, project-based instruction in computing concepts, programming fundamentals, mobile phone development, robotics, web development, and design
Tip
20 students are selected each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in April

Breakthrough New York

What
Six-years of tutoring, classes and more to get ready for college. Runs year-round, including summers and the school year
Who
Smart, low-income 6th grade through high school
Details
College students teach promising middle & high school kids math, reading, writing and science to help them get ready for college
Tip
Teacher recommendations, student & parent essays, interview
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Application process has several stages. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by mid-February to sign up for a family information session, and check website for parts one and two of the application, due in March

College Now at Hunter College

What
Free classes taught by Hunter faculty to prepare high-schoolers for college work during fall and spring semesters
Who
Classes are geared towards 11th and 12th graders
Details
Explore areas of interest not covered in school and get academic credit for high school or college
Tip
Students have access to Hunter libraries, computer labs, tutoring centers and cafeteria
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Fall applications due early June, spring applications due in December

Courant Splash (cSplash) @ NYU

What
Day-long math workshops and talks one Saturday in April
Who
High school students
Details
Schmooze with math geeks in workshops like "Surprising Probabilities," "The Math in Money" and "Wireless Communications"
Tip
Open to all but register to be sure to get in
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Check website in late March/early April for sign up link

Girls Who Code

What
Eight-week all-day summer science camp
Who
Eleventh-grade high school girls
Details
Field trips and classes in robotics, web design, mobile apps; presentations by more than 50 speakers, workshops, demos from female engineers and entrepreneurs
Tip
Only 20 girls are accepted
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications available in early February

MathABC.com

What
A free online website to practice skills
Who
Grades K-6
Details
Drills range from times tables to telling time to graphs
Tip
Drills go on and on without pause, use a timer to self-pace
Cost
FREE
When to apply
No application, program ongoing

MathMatters!

What
An after-school enrichment program where high school students teach discrete mathematics to middle school students
Who
High school students from any school may participate as tutors; middle school students must attend a participating school
Details
Learn about topics like game theory, graph theory, number theory, and other fun mathematics that are not normally taught in math class
Tip
To bring MathMatters! to your middle school, contact the program at nycmathmatters.org
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

Math and Science for Minority Students (MS)2

What
A STEM program for three consecutive summers at Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
Who
Black, Latino and Native American 9th-graders
Details
Helps put students on track for possible careers in science, technology, engineering and math
Tip
Rigorous and competitive with an 11 percent acceptance rate; about 110 scholars participate
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications available starting in December

The Museum of Mathematics Transformations Summer Program

What
Summer day camp for elementary and middle school students with a focus on math and engineering
Who
Grades 4–8
Details
Eight, independent week-long sessions with hands-on math workshops
Tip
Cool math you don’t learn in school
Cost
$800 for one week, with discounts for multiple weeks
When to apply
Applications available starting in December

New York Math Circle

What
Low-cost weekend math classes at NYU and Queens College
Who
Classes are geared towards 11th and 12th graders
Details
Explore areas of interest not covered in school and get academic credit for high school or college
Tip
Students have access to Hunter libraries, computer labs, tutoring centers and cafeteria
Cost
FREE

Pushkin Academy’s Math-M-Addicts Program

What
Low-cost math for math-lovers on Saturday mornings at PS 6 during the school year
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Students work alone and on teams to solve multi-step math problems
Tip
Give the entrance test a try, those who score reasonably well are accepted
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Application process has several stages. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by mid-February to sign up for a family information session, and check website for parts one and two of the application, due in March

Top Honors

What
Free math help on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings during the school year
Who
Middle school students
Details
Math games and exercises to boost lagging skills; kids earn fake dollars to win prizes for good work
Tip
Tutors don’t help with homework. Students work exclusively on Top Honors exercises
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

Science

New York City has a wealth of opportunities for students who are looking to pursue their interest in science outside of the classroom.

Science can help a child learn new words, sharpen observational skills and re-engage a disinterested learner. Find ways to get your child outside or working in a lab in the summer. From environmental science to engineering or technology, there is a science program for every student.

This list is not exhaustive, and we welcome your feedback and additions. Send your suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

NYC Summer Quest

What
Five-week academic and arts summer camp at several Bronx locations
Who
Elementary and middle school students
Details
Serious "Common Core" learning in the AM, sports, dance, art & field trips in the PM
Tip
Families like the work-fun balance
Cost
FREE
When to apply
You may enroll as late as July, but capacity is limited so apply early

City Parks Foundation: Youth Made Media

What
Multi-media/technology after school & summer program at five sites throughout the city
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Learn all aspects of production after school or during a summer institute
Tip
Teens can earn school credits for their work
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing. Students must contact the recreation center where the program is housed

Forest Project Summer Collaborative at Wave Hill

What
Protect and preserve Wave Hill's woodlands during summer vacation
Who
High school students with good grades
Details
Small crews spruce up woodland paths & remove invasive species in July and August
Tip
Earn an hourly wage and take a free class at Lehman College
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in late March

Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship at Wave Hill

What
Field research with scientists combined with college classes during the summer and academic year
Who
9th and 10th graders with good grades
Details
Test the water, canoe the Bronx River, hike Black Rock Forest, design a research project & take college classes over 14 months
Tip
Earn 6 college credits, $1,200 & 30 hours of community service.
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in early March

SEEK

What
Three-week summer day camp for budding engineers
Who
Grades 3-8
Details
Build gravity cruisers, gliders and solar-powered cars; sponsored by the National Society of Black Engineers
Tip
Black college students majoring in STEM fields serve as counselors; breakfast and lunch provided
Cost
FREE
When to apply
New student registration opens in February

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

What
Science classes in the spring and summer
Who
Every age, including adults
Details
Take a scavenger hunt; explore nature through art
Tip
The gardens have much to offer beyond classes: pot a plant or touch composting worms at a drop-in family workshop
Cost
Sliding scale scholarships based on income
When to apply
Register for the classes online. Application deadlines vary depending on the date of the program

Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Summer Camp

What
Two-week summer day camp for arts and science
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Visit Brooklyn museums, parks, the zoo: meet a python, make a film, pet a chinchilla
Tip
Lots of walking
Cost
Sliding scale scholarships based on income
When to apply
Online registration opens in December

Explainer Program @ The New York Botanical Garden

What
Teens teach kids about plants at the NY Botanical Garden in year round program
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Train as a volunteer during the school year and summer, then get paid to work in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden
Tip
Free Metro Cards and free entry for family and friends
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Students may apply three times a year after attending an open house. There are open houses in February, May, and September

City Parks Foundation: Youth Made Media

What
Multi-media/technology after school and summer program at five sites throughout the city
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Learn all aspects of production after school or during a summer institute
Tip
Teens can earn school credits for their work
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing. Students must contact the recreation center where the program is housed

Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE)

What
A 7-week summer program in which students work in a research lab and take college classes at NYU
Who
10th and 11th grade students with good grades
Details
Research experience in engineering, cyber security, robotics and molecular design fields
Tip
Only 20 students accepted; earn $500 upon completion
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Online applications are due in late February

Natural Areas Volunteer Program @ City of New York Parks and Recreation Department

What
A volunteer program caring for the city’s parks year round
Who
Anybody who loves nature
Details
Learn how to identify weeds and remove them
Tip
Look for volunteer opportunities through the NAV Program at the Parks and Recreation Department website
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Register online for specific volunteer opportunities at least a day in advance

MillionTrees NYC

What
A program to train volunteers to care for the city's trees year round
Who
Anybody who loves nature
Details
Participate in citywide volunteer tree-planting and tree-care workshops
Tip
Help MillionTrees meet its goal of planting a million trees across all five boroughs by 2017
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Register online for specific volunteer opportunities at least a day in advance

ExploraVision

What
A science and technology competition in which a teacher sponsors and leads a group of students to simulate real research and development
Who
Grades K-12
Details
Teams pick an invention, research it and imagine how it looks in the future; past winners designed a crime fighting laser and a futuristic newspaper
Tip
Website is busy and wordy, check sample projects for a quick peek
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Projects must be submitted by late January

ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp @ The City College of New York

What
A 2-week summer camp for female and minority students
Who
Middle school students from typically underrepresented groups
Details
Do science experiments, go on field trips and learn about lots of different scientific topics
Tip
Participants sleep over at City College of New York
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Online applications are posted in February

Science of Smart Cities

What
Science, engineering and technology summer program at NYU
Who
Grades 7-8
Details
Make "smart cities" out of Lego, learn physics with parachutes, test the pH of the water, explore city transportation
Tip
Harlem and other locations too
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in May

Best Excellence in Science and Technology (BEST) @ NYU

What
A pre-college science enrichment program for talented middle and high school students in NYC
Who
Low-income and minority students in grades 7-12 with good grades, who attend middle or high school in Community School District 13, Brooklyn
Details
Take math and science classes, participate in group research, and prepare for the PSAT and SAT/ACT
Tip
Students also work with mentors on career and college exploration
Cost
$350 for the summer session
When to apply
Applications are due in March

Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) @ NYU

What
A pre-college science enrichment program for talented middle and high school students in NYC
Who
Low-income and minority middle and high school students in grades 7-12 with good grades
Details
Take math and science classes, participate in group research, and prepare for the PSAT and SAT/ACT
Tip
Students also work with mentors on career and college exploration
Cost
$350 for the summer session
When to apply
Applications are due in March

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum: Camp G.O.A.L.S. for Girls

What
Summer science camp for girls
Who
8th and 9th grade girls who attend NYC schools
Details
Sea life, aviation, astronomy & more at the Intrepid Museum
Tip
The Intrepid also offers one-week camps during school breaks
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in March

City Parks Foundation: Youth Made Media

What
Multi-media/technology after school and summer program at five sites throughout the city
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Learn all aspects of production after school or during a summer institute
Tip
Teens can earn school credits
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing. Students must contact the recreation center where the program is housed

Harlem DNA Lab

What
One-week summer camps devoted to genetics
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Teens learn genetics in a state-of-the-art lab located in JHS 45
Tip
Learn more about DNA from these student-made videos
Cost
Some classes cost around $400, but others are free
When to apply
Registration opens in late winter

STEM Institute @ The City College of New York

What
A free summer program for female and minority students
Who
Students in grades 9-11
Details
Take summer classes in science, math, English, engineering, and computer programming
Tip
Participants may receive one elective high school credit
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in April

Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP) @ Weill Cornell Medical College

What
A 10-session program that runs from January-March and introduces teens to medical professions
Who
High school sophomores and juniors
Details
Learn about the steps needed to become a physician or health care provider
Tip
The program is designed to serve the needs of minority students interested in careers in science and medicine
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in November

The New York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSEF)

What
The city's largest high school research competition
Who
High school students
Details
Every year more than a thousand students compete
Tip
Winners of the NYCSEF will represent Team NYC at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair to compete to win more than $4 million in awards
Cost
FREE
When to apply
The application deadline is in December, and the preliminary round of competition is in March at The City College of New York

Learning Curve

What
A free summer program that teaches teens how to launch a start-up in 30 days
Who
High school students
Details
Take classes in science, technology, engineering, art, math, and design and design your own start-up
Tip
Students must commit to completing all assignments and building a prototype within the prescribed 30 day period
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in April

SHIP @ St. Joseph's Summer Hackers Immersion Program

What
A 4-week summer camp where students improve their computer skills at St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn
Who
Rising 9-12th graders
Details
Learn new coding skills and meet and work with professional coders
Tip
All levels are welcome
Cost
The cost of the program is $445, but financial aid is available for families demonstrating financial hardship. Invited students may request a fee reduction during the payment process
When to apply
Applications are due in May

Weather Camp @ NOAA's Center of Excellence in Remote Sensing Science and Technology

What
A free 2-week summer weather camp
Who
High school students
Details
Learn about meteorology by launching weather balloons, going inside the radar dome, and going camping
Tip
Only 6-12 students are selected
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in May

Columbia University Science Honors Program

What
College classes in physics, chemistry and biology during school year
Who
Smart high school students from NY, NJ, CT
Details
Teens pick from over 30 classes taught by science researchers and attend from Sept-May
Tip
Competitive but once you get in, you can return all three years
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in February

Rockefeller University Summer Science Research Program (SSRP)

What
A free 7-week summer research program at a top biomedical research facility
Who
High school students 16 or older
Details
Students work closely with mentors and get lots of experience with scientific research
Tip
Stipends may be available for students experiencing financial hardship
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in January

Rockefeller University Summer Neuroscience Program

What
A free 2-week summer course introducing students to the brain
Who
High school students 16 or older
Details
Students work closely with mentors and get lots of experience with scientific research
Tip
Students must be nominated by a teacher in order to participate
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in January

Summer Research Institute @ NASA New York City Research Initiative (NYCRI)

What
A summer program at 12 colleges in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Who
High school students over the age of 16 and undergrads
Details
Get experience doing lab research on NASA-funded projects
Tip
Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and a B average in all math and science courses; two letters of recommendation and a personal essay are also required
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications must be completed online and are due in March

Cooper Union Research Internship

What
A summer internship focused on engineering, math, chemistry, physics, and astronomy
Who
High school sophomores and juniors
Details
Work in groups, attend lectures, and participate in workshops and labs
Tip
Sophomores may choose to participate in a second internship at the end of their junior year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
The application is due in March

American Museum of Natural History

What
Science Research classes for smart kids after school
Who
Grades 10-12
Details
Students researchers learn about stars, trees, evolution, genetics in classes that meet for six weeks twice a week after school
Tip
Mid-December deadline; also check out the low-cost Exploratory Classes on genetics, astronomy and more
Cost
Science Research classes are free, but teens must submit grades and Regents scores
When to apply
Applications are due online on an ongoing basis

Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program (HOPP) Summer Student Program

What
8-week paid summer internship at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Who
10-12th graders in NYC or the Tri-State area with good grades and an interest in science and lab research
Details
Work with a mentor and do independent lab research
Tip
Great for those interested in pursuing careers in the biomedical sciences
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in March

Weill Cornell Youth Scholars Program

What
Summer classes in anatomy and physiology; experience a hospital setting
Who
11th graders interested in science and medicine
Details
In this July program teens participate in anatomy labs, meet doctors and med students, and receive college application help
Tip
Lunch and money for transportation included
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in April

Summer High School Internship Program @ NOAA's Center of Excellence in Remote Sensing Science and Technology

What
A 6-week summer internship
Who
High school juniors and seniors with a 3.0 GPA or higher
Details
Work with graduate students and professors on a variety of topics relating to meteorology
Tip
Only about 10 students are selected
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in May

Children's Library Discovery Center

What
An exhibit at the Queens Library with hands-on displays available all year
Who
Children ages 3-12 and their families
Details
Exhibits include a bug viewer and activities about magnets, sound, and mirrors
Tip
The Center also offers research, report, and homework help
Cost
FREE

City Parks Foundation: Coastal Classroom

What
After-school workshops in waterfront parks
Who
Grades 4 and up
Details
After school between March and November, youth and community members don waterproof overalls and slosh into rivers and creeks to learn about water quality
Tip
To learn more about this free program call 212-360-3327
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Scheduling for classes begins in March

School's Out Innovation Camps New York Hall of Science in Queens

What
Science-focused summer camps
Who
Students in grades K-8
Details
Various week-long sessions held during school breaks to explore hands-on science, from video game creation to toy making
Tip
Check out the MakerSpace blog for science project ideas
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Register online until the sessions are filled. Apply early

After-School Science Clubs @ New York Hall of Science

What
Weekly after-school clubs during the school semester, 3:30-6 pm
Who
Students in grades K-8
Details
Cool chemistry, edible science, dissections and more
Tip
Register early for these popular classes here
Cost
Some are free, others cost $250-$275 per semester, scholarships available for Corona residents in zip code 11368
When to apply
Register online until the sessions are filled. Apply early

Science Career Ladder @ New York Hall of Science

What
Train to teach others about science in this year round program
Who
14-25 year olds
Details
Must commit to one year of volunteering before applying for a year round paid position of 7-20 hours/week to explain exhibits
Tip
Selection not based on grades but interview and application; visit the Explainer's blog to learn more
Cost
FREE
When to apply
NYSCI generally hires three times a year and expects a commitment of at least one year

City Parks Foundation: Green Girls Summer Institute

What
Four-weeks of summer science field trips for girls
Who
Middle school girls
Details
Daily field trips throughout July to the city's parks and waterways for hands-on activities related to ecology, biology, zoology, botany
Tip
Preference to girls from Long Island City and Astoria
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in June

City Park Foundation: Youth Made Media

What
Multi-media/technology after school & summer program in five sites throughout the city
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Learn all aspects of production after school or during a summer institute
Tip
Teens can earn school credits for their work
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing. Students must contact the recreation center where the program is housed

Goddard Summer Institute of Robotics (SIR)

What
A 2-week summer residential program at Morgan State University in Baltimore
Who
High school students interested in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
Details
Learn about the science behind robot design and operation
Tip
The program is run in conjunction with NASA
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in May

Goddard Space Flight Center High School Internships

What
Various summer internships relating to math, science, engineering, and technology
Who
High school students, including recent grads, with a GPA of at least 3.0
Details
The National Space Club Scholars Program is one internship offered and provides a stipend of $1,800 for the 6-week program
Tip
Some internships take place at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, but others are available in different locations, including the New York City Research Initiative
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications may be submitted between November and March

MITES (Minority Introduction to Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Science)

What
A free 6-week residential, academic enrichment summer program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Who
Rising high school seniors
Details
Take calculus, physics, natural science, and humanities courses in addition to one hands-on elective
Tip
Eighty students from across the country are selected for the program each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Apply between November and February

Arts

With its wealth of museums and cultural institutions, New York City has many opportunities for students interested in the arts.

There are programs with a focus on visual arts, theater, instrumental music, choral music, and museum work. From free art classes to museum internships to theater summer camp, there are lots of ways to learn about and practice art outside of the regular school day.

This list is not exhaustive, and we welcome your feedback and additions. Send your suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

After-School Program @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art

What
A free drop-in program for children to explore the MET
Who
Children between 18 months and 12 years old
Details
Drop in for story time, drawing, or other activities
Tip
Call 212-650-2217 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Check online for upcoming events. Many are first come, first serve

Alliance for Young Artists & Writers’ Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

What
An art and writing competition to identify accomplished students in art and writing
Who
Students in grades 7-12
Details
Submit your art and writing in 28 categories for the chance to earn scholarships or have your works exhibited or published
Tip
About 1,000 students earn national awards, including more than $1.5 million in scholarships
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Deadlines range from December 15 through January 15, depending on your region

Arts Mentoring Program @ Free Arts NYC

What
An arts program that includes painting, dance, drama, writing, music, sculpture, photography and other creative outlets year round
Who
Children between the ages of 6-13
Details
Children learn to express themselves and gain confidence through art
Tip
Students must enroll through one of Free Arts NYC’s community partners
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

Cooper-Hewitt’s Lehman Scholars Program

What
A free program that introduces students to the fundamentals of design through hands-on workshops and internships with design professionals during the school year
Who
Students in 11th and 12th grades
Details
Learn about portfolio development, professional skills, college trips, studio visits, paid internship placements, and other opportunities
Tip
Juniors receive a stipend of $750 and seniors $1,500
Cost
FREE
When to apply
There are different application deadlines for different workshops. Check the website to register for upcoming workshops

CUNY Creative Arts Team (CAT) Youth Theatre

What
An after-school program that allows students to create original theater September through May
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Participants meet weekly during the school year to explore their ideas and build skills through theater games, improv, scene work, rehearsal, critical reflection and group discussion
Tip
Each spring, high school participants present a full production of their original work; middle school participants present their original work three times a year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Students are admitted on a first come, first serve basis. An application form may be found on the website, so apply early

Family Pass from Cool Culture

What
Free family passes to cultural institutes around the city
Who
Families who fall under the federal poverty guidelines
Details
Gain access to over 71 museums, botanical gardens and zoos, and a subscription to Family Time, a quarterly borough-by-borough listing of cultural attractions
Tip
Only families with a child enrolled in participating early childhood programs may receive a Family Pass
Cost
FREE
When to apply
N/A

Fred Dolan Art Academy

What
A free Saturday art school for students in the Bronx
Who
Students in grades 8-10 enrolled in Children’s Aid Society's Bronx-based community school programs
Details
Students spend equal time each session on drawing and painting, developing their visual style and creating a range of artistic ability
Tip
The program accepts about 25 students each school year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Contact Neil Waldman at (914)949-5257 to learn how to get involved

In the Making Teen Program at MoMA

What
Free hands-on arts classes that meet for 10-week sessions during the school year
Who
High school students, ages 13-19
Details
Participants choose classes that interest them on topics ranging from collage to sculpture
Tip
No experience necessary; a letter of recommendation is required
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in January

jumpstART @ the Cue Art Foundation

What
An intensive art program that meets on Thursdays and Saturdays between October and June
Who
High school juniors and seniors with a demonstrated interest in and aptitude for the visual arts
Details
The program guides students through the process of conceptualizing, organizing, promoting, and curating their own group exhibition
Tip
The program takes place over three consecutive terms (fall, winter, and spring)
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Registration takes place in September

NYCkidsARTS

What
A listing of arts and cultural activities available to kids and families
Who
Children of all ages
Details
Visit art galleries, public theaters, libraries, gardens and more after consulting this comprehensive listing
Tip
Search events by location, date, and type of activity
Cost
FREE
When to apply
N/A

Opportunity Music Project

What
Free weekly music lessons for low-income students
Who
Children between the ages of 5-8 from families at or below the New York State poverty line
Details
Receive weekly private lessons on violin, viola or cello, chamber music and orchestral training; High quality instruments are provided if needed
Tip
Students are selected based on an interview with the parents and a trial lesson/ informal interview with the student
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

Parents and Children Together with Art @ Free Arts NYC

What
An 8-week art program for children and their families year round
Who
Families with children 6-years-old and older
Details
Work with an art educator, art therapist, teaching artist or social worker to improve family communication and problem-solving skills through art
Tip
Families must enroll through one of Free Arts NYC’s community partners
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

Project Art

What
An after-school, weekend and summer visual arts education program
Who
Children between 4 and 17-years-old
Details
Participate in free art classes at various locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan
Tip
To enroll, just show up for the first day of classes posted on the Project Art website
Cost
FREE
When to apply
No application is necessary

Salute to Music Program with the New York Pops

What
Free Saturday choral and instrumental music lessons when school is in session
Who
NYC public school students in grades 6-8
Details
Play with orchestral or concert band ensembles in any of the five boroughs
Tip
All ensembles meet on Saturday mornings
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Auditions take place in October in various sites in all five boroughs

Sing for Hope Youth Chorus

What
A youth chorus that provides free vocal training to its participants during the school year
Who
High school students from all five boroughs
Details
Improve your musical skills and learn to express yourself artistically
Tip
Sign up for an audition online
Cost
FREE
When to apply
You can sign up for an audition any time through the online form

The Summer Arts Institute @ Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School

What
A free 4-week summer arts program that helps students to develop their artistic skills and creativity and to explore career paths in the arts
Who
Students entering grades 8-12
Details
Major in dance, theater, instrumental music, vocal music, film, string orchestra, or the visual arts
Tip
Students who complete the program in good standing may receive ½ unit of credit to apply towards an elective arts credit or a Regents diploma
Cost
FREE
When to apply
The online application is due in February, and auditions are held in March

Teen Arts Program @ Free Arts NYC

What
Participate in one of three teen arts programs to explore academic and professional opportunities in art
Who
7th-12th grade students depending on the program
Details
Work with artist mentors to build portfolios, visit museums and art galleries, or complete internships at Free Arts NYC headquarters
Tip
Students must enroll through one of Free Arts NYC’s community partners
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Application deadlines vary depending on which Teen Arts Program you are applying to

Teen Reviewers and Critics Program (TRaC) @ High 5

What
A free 10-week after-school program in which students attend theater, music, and dance performances
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Attend weekly seminars and attendance at performances where kids learn how to evaluate and write about what they see
Tip
There are six 10-week sessions every year, each limited to 12 students
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in February

Urban Word

What
A series of 12 free workshops throughout the year to encourage creative expression in literary arts and performance
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Explore the written and oral traditions of poetry, rap and hip-hop forms, song lyrics, and writing for political/social change
Tip
Winter, spring, summer, and fall workshops are available; submit an application online
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Anytime. Sign up for as many workshops as you like online

Wingspan Arts Summer Theater Conservatory

What
A free summer theater program that teaches participants the skills required to become accomplished actors, vocalists, and theatre artists
Who
Incoming 6th-12th graders
Details
High school students put on a plan and a musical, and middle schoolers write and produce an original work
Tip
Participation in the program is by audition only
Cost
FREE
When to apply
The application for the summer program is due in January. After your application is received, someone will contact you to set up an audition

Young Playwrights Inc. Workshop

What
A free playwriting workshop that meets on Tuesdays between October and May
Who
High school students
Details
Explore the art of playwriting by attending theatrical performances; meeting with playwrights, directors, producers, and cast members; and writing your own play
Tip
Participants must also be available once a month on Thursdays to meet with the program staff and review their work
Cost
FREE
When to apply
The application is due in September

Youth Ambassadors Internship Program @ The Museum for African Art

What
A paid 6-month internship learning about the art, culture, and history of Africa and the African Diaspora during the summer and fall
Who
Incoming high school juniors and seniors
Details
Explore the roles of citizen journalist, digital artist, and educator
Tip
25 students are selected each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
The application is due in February

Youth Insights @ Whitney Museum of American Art

What
Two 14-week after-school programs: one for artists and one for writers
Who
High school students
Details
View exhibitions, work with artists on studio art or writing projects, and take field trips to different museums
Tip
Students receive metro cards to cover the cost of transportation and the art supplies used in their projects
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications for the fall semester are due in August, and those for the spring semester are due in January

Humanities

Students interested in the history, politics, journalism and other subjects in the humanities may choose from an abundance of free programs in the city.

Programs include the Model New York City Council, an apprenticeship with the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and a 26-week Black studies program at the Schomburg Center. Practice writing, public speaking, and critical thinking skills in one of the city’s many free humanities programs.

This list is not exhaustive, and we welcome your feedback and additions. Send your suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Bella Abzug Leadership Institute (BALI)

What
A free 2-week summer debate and leadership training program led by Impact Coalition, Inc. for high school students
Who
Young women in high school and college
Details
Build leadership skills by working with accomplished female leaders in the fields of law, business, politics, government, the nonprofit sector, and academia
Tip
The 2-week program is followed by ongoing mentoring for participants
Cost
FREE
When to apply
There are two rounds of applications. The first is due in April and the second in June

Children’s PressLine

What
Workshops that engage children in reporting and journalism during the school year
Who
Children ages 8-18
Details
Learn to conduct research, do interviews, edit, and other skills related to reporting
Tip
Check out the Children’s PressLine Youtube page
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

The Development School for Youth

What
A 16-week series of workshops that introduce students to the worlds of finance, culture, and communications during the fall and spring semesters
Who
Students 16-years-old and older
Details
Learn about finance, culture, and communications while improving your public speaking skills and learning to write a resume
Tip
All students who graduate from the program are placed in paid summer internships at sponsoring companies
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Rolling admissions

Documentary Workshop @ The Educational Video Center (EVC)

What
A 15-week after school course that teaches students to collaboratively research, shoot, and edit documentaries that explore issues that are important in their lives
Who
High school students from underserved communities across NYC
Details
Past subjects of documentaries include youth violence, overcrowded schools, homophobia, and environmental pollution
Tip
Students earn school credit by attending the workshop at EVC’s facilities for 3 hours, 4 afternoons each week
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are available starting in the winter; interviews take place in September

Enrichment Zones @ NY Public Library

What
A free after-school homework help program at NY Public Library sites
Who
Students in grades 1-8
Details
Work with a tutor in core academic areas and get get your daily homework assignments done
Tip
Students also work on projects with their tutors and go on field trips
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

FIRST TAKE High School Journalism Workshop

What
A free 8-week program run by the New York Association of Black Journalists that meets on Saturdays in the fall
Who
High school students interested in news careers
Details
Learn about reporting, video editing, photojournalism, interviewing, and audio production
Tip
There are limited spots available, so apply early
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in September

Fresh Air Fund Summer Camps

What
Five free summer camps in Fishkill, NY for children of different ages that include sports, crafts, and leadership activities
Who
Children between the ages of 9-15 from low-income families
Details
Have fun at summer camp while learning to develop self-confidence, independence, and teamwork skills
Tip
About 3,000 children attend a Fresh Air Fund camp each summer
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Attend an open house in January to start the application process

HarlemLive

What
An award-winning, critically acclaimed web magazine produced by teens across NYC during school year
Who
Students between the ages of 13-21
Details
Learn about journalism, technology, and leadership skills by contributing to an online newspaper
Tip
For more information, call 212-222-4681
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

Innovation Labs @ NY Public Library

What
A free after-school program at select neighborhood libraries that allows students to research issues that are important to them
Who
Students in grades 7-10
Details
Research problems that interest you and work on solutions to those issues using video games, podcasts, and blogs
Tip
Time is dedicated in each session to homework
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

Literacy Leaders Program @ NY Public Library

What
A free after-school program that gives academic credit to students in grades 11-12 for learning how to teach children in grades 1-2 how to read
Who
Students in grades 11-12
Details
Teach children how to read 2-3 afternoons each week at NY public libraries
Tip
Teens who complete the training may apply for a paid internship tutoring first and second graders at an after-school program at the library
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

Model New York City Council

What
A 4-session model City Council that allows students to step into the shoes of a City Councilperson during Saturday sessions in the fall
Who
High school students
Details
Participating students put their experience to use as they debate and vote on a piece of legislation during a “stated meeting” in the Council’s actual chambers in City Hall
Tip
This is a College Now program, so students must first apply to College Now.
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in September

Museum of Jewish Heritage High School Apprenticeship Program

What
A summer apprenticeship program that teaches students about Jewish heritage and museum work
Who
NYC public high school students of all backgrounds
Details
Work at the Museum full-time during the summer, leading tours and learning about the curatorial, educational, administrative, and operational elements of museum work
Tip
Apprentices are paid for their participation
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in November

The New York City Urban Debate League

What
The city’s largest scholastic debate organization during the school year
Who
There are programs for elementary, middle, and high school students
Details
The Debate League provides free tournaments, resources for debaters, debate teachers and coaches, and comprehensive debate education to all NYC schools and students
Tip
To join the Debate League, register your school online at the League’s website
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

The North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO)

What
NACLO hosts events all year in which students solve linguistic puzzles and learn about the richness and diversity of language
Who
Middle and high school students from all over North America
Details
Solve linguistic problems from dozens of the world’s languages at contests hosted at various universities listed on the NACLO website
Tip
No prior knowledge of particular languages or linguistics is necessary
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Register online prior to the event in which you intend to compete. Some events allow walk-ons

Princeton University Summer Journalism Program

What
A free ten-day summer journalism seminar on the Princeton campus
Who
Incoming high school seniors from low-income backgrounds, with excellent academic records and a desire to pursue a career in journalism
Details
Attend classes taught by reporters and editors from The New York Times or the Washington Post; cover a professional sports event; cover news events in the Princeton area; film and produce a TV segment; conduct an investigative project; author a group blog; and report, write, edit and design your own newspaper
Tip
About 25 students from around the country are accepted each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in February

Saturday Academy @ the Museum of the City of New York

What
A free 6-week program for students interested in American history or SAT preparation
Who
Students in grades 8-12
Details
Attend courses on topics ranging from photography in America to the history of the labor movement
Tip
Enrollment is first-come, first served. There are a limited number of spaces reserved for students who live and/or attend schools in East and Central Harlem
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in February for spring classes and in late summer for fall classes

Schomburg Center’s Junior Scholars Program

What
A free 26-week pre-college black studies program on Saturdays
Who
Students between 11-17 years old who are of African descent
Details
Learn about the histories and cultures of the African Diaspora through film screenings, cultural arts performances, research projects, and field trips
Tip
One-hundred students are selected to participate each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in September

Teens Take the City

What
A leadership development program of the YMCA during the school year
Who
Teenagers throughout the city
Details
Work in small groups to identify issues affecting your community and develop policy proposals to address the issue
Tip
The program is partly supported by the New York City Council, and each council member may nominate five students to participate
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Application deadlines vary by YMCA branch

The Urban Journalism Workshop @ NYU

What
A 10-day summer journalism course at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
Who
High school juniors and seniors in the NYC metro area (including New Jersey, Connecticut, and Westchester)
Details
Learn to report, write stories, shoot photos, live in an NYU dorm, get college advice, and create your own multimedia website and print paper
Tip
Twenty students are selected to participate
Cost
FREE
When to apply
The application is due in April

Youth Stamp Club @ The Collectors Club of New York

What
Monthly stamp collecting meetings during the school year
Who
Students in grades 4 and up
Details
Learn about history, geography, famous people, events, and almost every imaginable topic through stamp collecting
Tip
Sessions are held on Saturdays once a month
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

Creative Communication

What
Essay- and poetry-writing contests
Who
Students in grades 4-12
Details
Students compete against their peers in both age and location
Tip
The winners share more than $70,000 in prizes and selected entries are published in a hardbound anthology
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Spring submissions are due in April, Summer in August, and fall in December

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

What
An essay contest for students who have written about an elected official who has demonstrated political courage
Who
High school students
Details
Write an essay about an elected official who chose to do what is right rather than what is easy to enter this contest
Tip
Winning essayists receive awards totaling up to $8,500, and the first place winner is invited to accept the award in Boston
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Submissions are due in January

The National Peace Essay Contest

What
An essay contest to promote serious discussion about international peace and conflict resolution
Who
High school students
Details
Contest topics include national and international conflicts
Tip
College scholarship awards of $1,000 are granted to a winner in each state, and the writers of the top three essays nationally receive scholarships of $10,000, $5,000, and $2,500 respectively
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Submissions are due in February

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards @ the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers

What
National awards given to accomplished student artists and writers
Who
Students in grades 7-12
Details
Student work is exhibited, published, and presented to a national audience
Tip
About 1,000 students earn national awards, including more than $1.5 million in scholarships
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Submissions are due in January

A Better Chance (ABC)

What
ABC places top students in highly ranked independent day schools, boarding schools, and public schools
Who
Middle and high school students of color
Details
Students with at least a B+ average who are ranked in the top 10% of their class are eligible to apply
Tip
Candidates must apply one year in advance
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applying to ABC is an 18-month process. Applications are available starting in February

Apex for Youth

What
Mentorship opportunities and an SAT and college prep program that runs year round
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Mentors help with schoolwork, English, college prep in addition to playing sports, exploring the city, and participating in group events
Tip
Students meet with their mentors twice a month
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

The Boys' Club of New York

What
Classes and other opportunities that cost less than a dollar all year
Who
Boys between the ages of 6-20
Details
Participate in computer classes, attend summer camp, get homework help, and receive dental services at the Boys' Club
Tip
The club has a location in Flushing, Queens and two in Manhattan
Cost
Less than a dollar
When to apply
Ongoing

Breakthrough New York at the Town School

What
A free, year-round enrichment program
Who
Highly motivated middle-school students with limited educational opportunities
Details
Take enrichment classes, visit museums, and work with mentors on various issues including high school placement
Tip
There is a two-year commitment
Cost
FREE
When to apply
The admissions process begins in January and ends in May

College Now

What
A college prep program that matches public high schools with one or more of the 17 City University of New York (CUNY) colleges during the summer
Who
Public high school students
Details
Improve your high school performance and get a head start on college through academic courses, campus tours, cultural events, and scholarships
Tip
Students may receive college credit for some courses
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Application deadlines depend on the type of course or activity and on the application procedures of a particular campus’s College Now program

Harlem Education Activities Fund (HEAF)

What
HEAF offers intensive academic enrichment activities aimed to assist college-bound students from educationally and/or economically disadvantaged communities during the school year and summer
Who
Middle and high school students
Details
Participate in test prep, academic classes, and social and personal development activities to prepare for college
Tip
Activities take place after school, on Saturdays, and during the summer
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

HomeworkNYC.org

What
A website run by the public libraries to help students with their homework
Who
Students in grades K-12
Details
Get help with every area of the NYC schools curriculum including live, online assistance
Tip
The library site is also affiliated with the teacher’s union Dial-A-Teacher, a helpline that allows students and parents to talk directly with a city teacher Monday through Thursday from 4 to 7pm: 212-777-3380
Cost
FREE
When to apply
N/A

The Liberty LEADS Program @ Bank Street College

What
An after-school drop-out prevention and college access program that provides services to students 6 days a week
Who
Students in grades 5-12
Details
Get homework help, take college prep classes, work with a counselor, and participate in a variety of other enrichment activities
Tip
About 260 students participate in the program each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing. Request an application by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Monroe College Jumpstart

What
A program that lets students take a free 15-week college class of their choosing in either the fall or spring semester
Who
High school juniors and seniors
Details
Earn 3 college credits by taking a class in accounting, business, criminal justice, culinary arts, allied health professions, hotel and restaurant management, marketing, web design, and information technology
Tip
Students who complete the program are eligible for freshman scholarships if they choose to attend Monroe for college
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Registration takes place in September for the fall semester and January for the winter semester

The Oliver Scholars Program

What
A program that selects highly motivated students to attend top independent day and boarding schools across the Northeast
Who
Seventh graders of Latino and African American descent from public, parochial, and charter schools in NYC
Details
Oliver Scholars staff supports the scholars with high school admissions, SAT prep, and college tours among other activities
Tip
There is a rigorous admissions process including an open house, a standardized test, and interviews
Cost
FREE
When to apply
The application process begins in the fall when students are nominated to participate in the program. They are then invited to attend an open house, and then an interview in April. Decisions are made in May

Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow

What
A Brooklyn-based nonprofit group that provides a variety of classes for youth and community members year round
Who
Various ages
Details
Programs include a paid internship program for young people between the ages of 17-21, which includes classes in English, math, computer training, and GED preparation. The Opportunity Knocks program provides five weeks of business skills training before matching participants with an 11-week paid internship
Tip
OBT has several locations throughout Brooklyn
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

The Posse Foundation

What
An 8-month pre-collegiate training program during the academic school year
Who
High school students
Details
Students are grouped in multicultural teams called “posses” and are prepared to apply to top-tier universities and colleges nationwide
Tip
Students are identified through a unique evaluation method designed to identify young leaders who might be missed by traditional admissions criteria
Cost
FREE
When to apply
The recruitment process takes place between September and December

Prep for Prep

What
A year-round program that places high-achieving students in independent and boarding schools and prepares them for college
Who
Students of color in grades 5-7
Details
Students participate in a 7-week summer program in addition to weekly Wednesday and Saturday classes
Tip
About 6,000 students are nominated each year for about 125 spots
Cost
FREE
When to apply
The admissions process lasts an entire academic year, starting with student nominations in the fall and ending with notifications in the spring

Read and Play at The Child’s Place for Children with Special Needs

What
Book-sharing and creative educational playtime at Brooklyn public libraries
Who
Children up to five-years-old with and without disabilities
Details
Children learn social skills and language development is stimulated by playing together with age-appropriate toys
Tip
Parents or guardians must accompany their child
Cost
FREE
When to apply
No application necessary

REACH Prep

What
A 15-month program that prepares select students for 5th and 6th grade admissions to top independent and boarding schools in New York and Connecticut
Who
Fourth graders of Black and Latino descent from the Bronx
Details
Students hone their organizational, academic, and social skills before they matriculate to prep school and continue to receive support throughout high school
Tip
Only 20 students are admitted each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in February

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO)

What
A free 8-year academic program that works with motivated youth to help them develop throughout high school, college, and their careers
Who
High school students from low-income public high schools in NYC
Details
SEO provides three major programs: the Career Program, the Scholars Program, and the Alumni and Philanthropy Program
Tip
Students must apply in the 9th grade
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in December

Summer Youth Employment Program

What
A paid summer employment program
Who
NYC youth between the ages of 14 and 24
Details
Participants work up to 25 hours a week for six weeks, earning $7.25 per hour. Job sites are spread out across all five boroughs and include government agencies, hospitals, summer camps, museums, nonprofits, small businesses and retailers
Tip
Participants are selected through a lottery
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in May

Summer on the Hill @ Horace Mann

What
A Saturday-morning enrichment program that works with students through elementary, middle, and high school to prepare them for college
Who
Students start in the 2nd grade and continue until they are placed in high school
Details
Students study language arts, math, and science and attend a 6-week summer program
Tip
The program admits 250 students each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are available in January

Talent Search @ The Double Discovery Center

What
A career and college counseling program to ensure quality high school enrollment, rigorous course selection, high school completion, and post-secondary education during the school year
Who
Students ages 12-27
Details
Students choose from among one-to-one advising, workshops, homework help, tutoring, academic classes, internships, field trips, and special events
Tip
Over 750 students participate in the program each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due one month prior to the start of each term—in August and December

The TEAK Fellowship

What
A year-round program that works with middle and high school students and prepares them for college
Who
The program runs from 7th grade until college placement
Details
The program includes academic year and summer programs to provide academic support and help with the college admissions process
Tip
Only 30 students are accepted each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due in February

United Neighborhood Houses

What
A list of neighborhood houses and community centers in NYC, many of which offer college counseling after school
Who
High school students
Details
Search UNH’s member neighborhood houses to find one near you that offers college counseling
Tip
UNH works with 400 neighborhood houses and community centers throughout the city each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

Upward Bound @ The Double Discovery Center

What
A year-round intensive academic immersion for students who show promise for college success
Who
Students in 9th and 10th grades may apply and continue through high school graduation
Details
Get after-school homework help, take Saturday enrichment classes, and participate in the residential UB Summer Academy at Columbia University
Tip
About 195 students participate each year
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are due one month prior to the start of each term—in August and December

Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP)

What
A 2-weeks job readiness program followed by a 12-week paid internship organized by the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
Who
Young adults between the ages of 16-24 who are unemployed and not currently enrolled in school, GED or employment assistance program
Details
Attend workshops on job readiness, interview techniques, and more. Plus receive one on one job and academic counseling
Tip
Earn up to $2,500
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Ongoing

Youth Employment Program @ Ecumenical Community Development Organization (ECDO)

What
A paid summer employment program
Who
Young people between the ages of 14-21
Details
ECDO also provides educational/employment counseling, job readiness skills, on the job training and referrals
Tip
Participants get paid $7.50/hour in the summer program
Cost
FREE
When to apply
Applications are available starting in April

Students in special education?

Students who receive special education services and are unable to pass the Regents examination may take the Regents Competency Tests, known as the RCT (this is referred to as the "Safety Net") if they enter 9th grade in or after September 2001 and prior to September 2011. In addition, for students who enter 9th grade in or after September 2005, a grade of 55-64 may be considered as a passing score on any Regents exam required for graduation. However, in both of these cases, students will only earn a local, and not a Regent's, diploma. This policy applies both to students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and students who were, but are no longer, in high school special education.

The law states that the majority of students who receive special education services should be prepared to earn regular high school diplomas. However, for a small minority of students, an IEP diploma option is also available. An IEP diploma is not as useful as a regular diploma; for example, you cannot try to enlist in the military services or attend even a two-year college with an IEP diploma. An IEP diploma certifies merely that a student attended school and completed IEP goals. An IEP diploma should not be a goal for students with the potential to meet graduation standards. Students who get IEP diplomas are entitled to stay in school to work toward a regular diploma or GED until the age of 21. Students with disabilities can also be prepared for the GED but cannot be forced to pursue that degree instead of a regular diploma.

If you are not sure whether your child is being prepared for a local, Regents, IEP, or GED diploma, look on page 9 of his IEP. If the IEP says he is tracked for a local or Regent's diploma, talk to the supervisor or assistant principal of special education to make sure he is earning the credits he needs and being prepared for the graduation exams. If the IEP says he is tracked for an IEP diploma, but you think your child should be able to earn a regular diploma, you can request a review meeting and/or use your due process rights. It might help to seek the advice of an advocate or attorney.

You should be focusing on the type of diploma your child is to earn way before he arrives at high school; as soon as your child is enrolled in school, you should be ensuring that he gets access to the regular curriculum and assistance necessary to meet the standards applicable to all children in his age group, unless his cognitive ability will not allow him to do so. Children who miss out on important instruction in the early grades may not be able to catch up later. Please see our page for more information about special education services.

Transfers and alternative schools

How to transfer

If you are unhappy in your high school, you may want to transfer. Unfortunately, the Department of Education doesn’t make it easy. If you are a 9th-grader, your best bet is to reapply to another school for 10th grade.

After 10th grade, transfers are generally granted only in cases of emergency. (The same goes for midyear transfers.) You’ll need a note from your doctor or a police report that demonstrates your health or safety is at risk if you stay at your current school.

If you move during high school and you end up with a very long commute (more than 75 minutes each way), you may claim a “travel hardship” and transfer to a school closer to home. Get your guidance counselor to help, or go to a borough enrollment center.

Transfer schools

If you have other reasons for leaving—you are simply miserable, or you have failed lots of courses, or you need to take care of a family member—transfer alternative schools are another option. These are designed for students who have been unsuccessful at traditional schools. Transfer schools sometimes accept students midyear. They tend to be very small. You apply to these schools directly—not through the regular high school admissions office. Some transfer schools are demanding, academically challenging schools that prepare students for college. Others focus on the basics: just getting kids to graduate.

You are entitled to attend school until you graduate from high school or turn 21 years old. Some schools will encourage older students to leave and take a GED (general educational development) test, but it is your right to work for a regular Regents diploma, which is more valued than a GED.

The Department of Education has a webpage that explains how to transfer high schools. Find it here. In its' directory of schools and additional ways to graduate, the DOE lists referral centers (PDF) to help kids who want to transfer to an alternative school or program.

Bronx: 718-842-9200

Brooklyn: 718-636-5770

Manhattan: 212-224-1793

Queens: 718-739-2100

Staten Island: 718-273-3225

 

Other ways to graduate

A number of programs are available for older students who need to work during the day or who want to return to school after dropping out or who need to work during the day. Some high schools offer child care to enable young mothers to attend school while their babies are looked after. The Department of Education website has an extensive list of these alternative programs. For more information, call the District 79 Office of Student Support Services (917) 521-3639 (4360 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10033).

The Office of Adult and Continuing Education offers GED preparation, English as a second language and career education programs for adults who are 21 years of age or older. Call (917) 521-3789.

Discharges and involuntary transfers

Your school administration may suggest that you transfer to another school if, for example, you can’t keep up with the academic work. However, the school may not force you to leave except in very limited circumstances. You have the right to tutoring or counseling that will help you be successful in your current school. If your school wants you to leave and you want to stay, look at the regulations for an “involuntary transfer” before you agree.

In some cases, a child who has been suspended for bad behavior may be transferred to another school against his wishes. If you lied about your address when you enrolled, you may be transferred to your zoned school.

It is wrong for a school to discharge a student when the student or parent objects. And it’s illegal for a school to discharge a student between the ages of 17 and 21 without parental consent and appropriate exit-interview procedures. Schools are supposed to notify students and their parents of the right to attend school until the age of 21.

Graduation requirements

All students in New York state must earn 44 credits and pass five Regents exams with a score of at least 65 to graduate. Each semester-long course is worth one credit. Some specialized and alternative schools have additional requirements, as does the Advanced Regents diploma.

Regents diploma

Advanced Regents diploma

8 English (R)

8 English (R)

8 Social Studies (2R)*

8 Social Studies (2R)*

6 Science (R)*

6 Science (2R)*

6 Math (R)*

6 Math (2R)*

2 Foreign Language

6 Foreign Language **

1 Health Education

1 Health Education

4 Physical Education

4 Physical Education

1 Art

1 Art

1 Music

1 Music

7 elective courses

3 elective courses

 

(R) Regents exam required; (2R) two Regents exams required.
* Student may substitute a senior level course in technology for a third year of science or math.
** Students may complete five math or five Career and Technical Education (CTE) credits in place of additional language credits.

Local diploma

In the past, New York City offered a local diploma for students who were unable to complete the requirements for a Regents diploma. For those entering 9th grade after 2008, the local diploma has been eliminated except for certain students receiving special education services.

Regents diploma

Students must pass five Regents exams: English, math, global history, U.S. History and science, with a score of 65 percent or more.

Advanced Regents diploma

To earn an Advanced Regents diploma, students take additional credits in a foreign language, pass an additional Regents exam in science (at least one course should be in life science and one in physical science), and pass a second Regents exam in math. An advanced Regents Diploma with Honors may be issued to students who receive an average of 90 percent or more on all Regents exams. Adjustments are made for students taking a sequence in career and technical education or the arts. More information on the Career and Technical Education sequence can be found on the New York State Department of Education website.

How to appeal a failing Regents score

Students who fail to pass a Regents exam may appeal if they score within 3 percentage points of 65 percent and have met the following criteria:

  • Take the Regents exam in question twice
  • Score within 3 points of the 65 percent passing score on that exam, up to a total of two exams
  • Have a course average in the subject under appeal that meets or exceeds the school's passing grade
  • Present evidence that they have taken advantage of academic help provided by the school in the subject
  • Have an attendance rate of 95 percent for the school year (except for excused absences) during which they last took the Regents exam under appeal
  • Be recommended for an exemption to the graduation requirement by their teacher or department chairperson in the subject


English language Learners

All students designated as English language learners by the Department of Education must pass the Regents English Language Arts Exam to receive a regular high school diploma. However, those students who enter the U.S. in 9th grade or later may take other required Regents examinations in their native languages if the translated exam is available and if the test is taken within three years of when they entered the U.S. The other required Regents examinations are available in Spanish, Chinese and Russian. Oral translation is provided for students if a version of the test is not available in their language.

What to look for on a tour

It's a good idea to tour a school before you apply. Some schools offer daytime tours, when you can see classes in action, while others give “open houses” in the evening. Although daytime tours are best, you can tell a lot about a school even from walking through an empty building. Safety is everyone's first concern. Metal detectors, signs announcing "no weapons allowed" and locked bathroom doors are troublesome signs. Friendly security guards are a good sign. Look for lots of books in classrooms and student work on walls. Bare classrooms are a bad sign, although in a large school many teachers of different subjects may share a classroom and may not post work. Desks in rows signal a traditional school, where the teacher does most of the talking. Desks in a circle or in groups signal a school where kids are expected to have speak up and work together in groups. Either approach can work well, but some kids need the structure of a traditional school, while others relish class discussions.