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Audition schools


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
  • 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?


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


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

Academic and college prep

A Better Chance (ABC) places top middle and high school students of color in highly ranked independent day schools, boarding schools and public schools. Students with at least a B+ average who are ranked in the to 10% of their class are eligible. Candidates must apply oner year in advance.

Apex for Youth pairs middle and high school students, primarily Asian-Americans and recent immigrant students with mentors who meet with them twice a month, help with homework and join them in sports and games,. There a SAT prep program and and a general college prep program as well.

The Center for Leadership and College Preparation, affiliated with Bank Street College of Education, offers educational opportunities both to high-achieving students and to struggling students. The program serves kids in 5th-12th grades, giving them access to a wide range of academic resources, college prep classes, counseling, mentoring and activities, as well as individual attention and support. Students are admitted in the 5th, 7th and 9th grades.

College Now is designed to prepare New York City’s public high school students for college. In most cases, a public high school teams up with one or more of the 17 City University of New York (CUNY) colleges. The program offers eligible students a number of ways to improve their high school performance and get a head start on college. College Now offers academic courses, campus-based tours and cultural events, and scholarships.
The Double Discovery Center at Columbia University houses two educational programs serving low-income and first-generation college-bound students: Talent Search is a career and college counseling program for students in 7th to 12th grades, and Upward Bound is an intensive, year-round college preparatory program for high school students who have been underperforming. New applicants to Upward Bound must be in 9th or 10th grade.

Harlem Education Activities Fund (HEAF) offers intensive academic enrichment courses, test preparation, and social and personal development activities for students after school, on Saturdays and during the summer. The goal is to assist college-bound students from educationally and/or economically disadvantaged communities in developing intellectual and life skills. Programs are specific to middle and high school students.

Monroe College Jumpstart allows high school juniors and seniors to earn three college credits for free. In a 15-week course, the students study with professors in a college setting and earn credits. Courses are offered in accounting, business, criminal justice, culinary arts, allied health professions, hotel and restaurant management, marketing, web design and information technology. Students who complete the program are eligible for freshman scholarships if they choose to matriculate to Monroe for college, and the credits are transferable for students who go elsewhere.

The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits and trains student leaders from public high schools to form multicultural teams called “posses.” These teams are then prepared, through an eight-month pre-collegiate training program, for enrollment at top-tier universities and colleges nationwide. The Posse Foundation has placed 1,850 students into colleges and universities during the past two decades.

Summer on the Hill at Horace Mann is an enrichment program for academically talented public school students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Students start in the 2nd grade and continue until placed in high school, participating in Saturday-morning classes during the school year and a six-week summer session. They study language arts, math and science, and learn study skills. Summer programs include fine arts, recreation and an overnight trip to the John Dorr Nature Laboratory in Connecticut. Summer on the Hill continues to offer support through 12th grade.

The TEAK Fellowship supports students seeking to gain admissions to top high schools and colleges. Students who are citizens or permanent residents, have proof of financial need and have scored above 90 percent on tests and in class may apply by October of their 6th-grade year. The program runs from the summer after 6th grade until college placement. Only 30 students are accepted each year.


Career development

Cooper Union Research Internship allows high school sophomores and juniors to work in teams on applied research projects guided by Cooper Union undergraduate teaching assistants and mentored by faculty. The program covers civil, chemical, electrical, mechanical, biomedical and environmental engineering and mathematics, chemistry, physics and astronomy. There are lectures, discussions and a series of workshops on oral presentations, technical writing, career choices and college admissions. Each group presents its work to an invited audience. Sophomores may also elect to participate in a second internship at the end of their junior year.

The Development School for Youth introduces students to the worlds of finance, culture, communications and other leading industries through a series of 16 weekly workshops led by senior executives from some of New York City’s leading corporations and law firms. Students, who must be at least 16, also learn public speaking and how to dress for success and write a résumé. All students who graduate from the program are placed in paid summer internships provided by sponsoring companies.

weillcornellmedicalcollegeHealth Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP) at Weill Cornell Medical College exposes high school sophomores and juniors to science-related activities. HPREP also teaches students about specific career fields and the steps needed to become a physician or other health-care provider. The 10-week program for 10th- and 11th-grade high school students features lectures by physicians, health-care professionals and medical students from minority groups and small group workshops. Participants are also required to submit a short research paper on a preapproved subject at the conclusion of the program.

Math and Science for Minority Students (MS)2 is a summer program in Andover, Mass., at the Phillips Academy preparatory school. Open to black, Latino and Native American students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the (MS)2 program spans three consecutive summers. Students apply in 9th grade and begin the program the following summer. The program helps put students on track for possible careers in engineering, science, medicine, computer technology and other technical fields.

Museum of Jewish Heritage High School Apprenticeship Program offers New York City public high school students a program of study and work designed to give them a behind-the-scenes look at work in the Museum and explore Jewish heritage and their own. After  extensive spring training, Apprentices work full-time during the summer in different Museum departments; lead tours, are introduced to the curatorial, educational, administrative, and operational sides of the Museum. Apprentices are paid for their participation .Students of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Download an application and return it via mail by November 25th.

Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, a nonprofit group based in Brooklyn, offers an employment training and GED preparation program as well as a paid internship program for young people ages 17 to 21. The Youth Employment Training Program provides courses 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. Students must be 18 before June of the year they take part.

NASA PREP, a six-week program held at Capitol College in Maryland, is designed to strengthen the academic, study and interpersonal skills of minority students interested in careers in computer science or astronautical, computer, electrical or software engineering. The program includes field trips to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and cultural trips to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Admission is limited to eight high school juniors and seniors, with preference to graduating seniors. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, have completed two years of algebra, one year of trigonometry and three years of a laboratory science, have a cumulative GPA of 2.8 and at least a 500 in the math section of the SAT. Students who complete the program may qualify for a scholarship to Capitol College.

Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) is a Saturday Discovery program that helps 9th- to 12th-graders in math, science and technology. Students explore math, science and technology careers; visit college campuses; and prepare and present reports of scientific explorations. Many colleges and universities throughout the city and state host a STEP program, often with their own particular area of focus, and students apply separately to each program. STEP is funded by the New York State Department of Education, and parents are expected to attend at least four meetings during the year and are welcome to attend trips. The program begins in October and ends in May.

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) works with motivated youth to help them develop throughout high school, college and their careers. The organization provides services through three major programs: the Career Program, the Scholars Program, and Alumni and Philanthropy Programs.

The Ecumenical Community Development Organization (ECDO) runs the ECDO Young Adult Internship Program for NYC residents between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school and are not employed. It is open to residents of the 10023, 10024, 10025, 10026, 10027, 10030, and 10031 zip codes. The program includes three weeks of job readiness orientation and nine months of placement assistance in jobs or in an educational program. Participants earn up to $2,500 over the course of 14 weeks. For more information, call the ECDO Community Partnership Center at 212-531-3211 or stop by the office at 413 West 125th Street in Manhattan.


Project Art is an after-school, weekend and summer visual arts education program that invites art students to explore art in a bold and unique way. The program unites young artists with practicing professional and resident artists from around the world. At the end of the summer term and the school year, project-based student works are displayed in New York City and around the world.

Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and its regional affiliates reach out to schools across the nation to identify accomplished artists and writers in grades 7-12. About 1,000 students earn national awards, including more than $1.5 million in scholarships. Student work is exhibited, published and presented to a national audience.

Cooper-Hewitt’s Lehman Scholars program for 11th- and 12th-graders introduces students to the fundamentals of design through hands-on workshops and internships with design professionals. The program includes portfolio reviews plus studio and college visits to local and out-of-state schools. Juniors receive a stipend of $750 and seniors $1,500.

CUNY Creative Arts Team (CAT) Youth Theatre creates original productions from the ideas of its members. They aim to amplify the collective voice of the group while creating social and culturally relevant theater of the highest possible standard.

High 5 is dedicated to making the arts affordable for teens by offering $5 tickets to hundreds of dance, music, theater, film, museum and spoken-word events. Its Teen Reviewers and Critics Program (TRaC) includes weekly seminars and attendance at performances where kids learn how to evaluate and write about what they see.

The International Center of Photography offers ICP Teen Academy with opportunities for teenagers to develop their knowledge of photography. In-class sessions range from ten-week classes to a yearlong intensive program focusing on professional applications. Scholarships are available for all classes. ICP at THE POINT is a collaboration with THE POINT Community Development Corporation in the South Bronx, providing a photography-based program for preteens and teens that includes a classroom/studio, black-and-white darkroom, and gallery. Through Museum Education, ICP also offers free guided and self-guided tours, events for educators, and interpretative materials for New York City public schools. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 212-857-0005


metroartThe Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a program of free classes held after school and on weekends. Hgh school students study original works of art with museum instructors. Seniors attending New York City high schools may apply for a paid Saturday internship. Interns work behind the scenes, meet members of the museum staff and participate in gallery, studio and museum learning projects.


MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art) offers several programs for high schools students: MoMA After School encourages high school students’ active engagement with works of modern and contemporary art. Students participate in studio projects, conversations and debates with peers and museum staff, while learning about careers and practices within the visual arts. All programs are free, and MoMA provides the supplies and materials. In the Making: Summer at MoMA is a six-week summer art-making program for high school students. Students participate in studio activities as well as conversations with artists and MoMA staff, field trips, special tours of the museum’s collection, writing exercises and art instruction by MoMA educators. Student artwork is shown in a small culminating exhibit. Tenth- to 12th-graders may apply, and there is no need for previous art experience. The MoMA high school summer internshipis a six-week paid program that exposes high school students to museum work and practical job skills. In addition to their work in a museum department, students attend lectures by museum staff and visit other arts organizations. There is limited space, with preference to students who have prior museum or administrative experience. Open to students of New York City public high schools who will be entering 11th or 12th grade in fall or who have recently graduated.

The Museum for African Art. Youth Ambassadors Internship Program is open to current high school sophomores and juniors interested in exploring the roles of citizen journalist (through blogs and social media), digital artist and educator. The paid internship runs for six months, beginning with a full-time training program in the summer, a week of assisting in teaching a summer arts program and working one weekend day a month from July to December. The 25 selected interns must commit to the full six-month program and are required to attend all meetings and work the minimum of one weekend-day per month. Interns will receive a stipend of $1,250 plus transportation.  Contact Dan’etta Jimenez, Youth Programs Coordinator, at 718-784-7700 x 126 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NYCkidsARTS, sponsored by the Alliance for the Arts, lists arts and cultural activities available to kids and families, including many neighborhood institutions, after-school activities and more.

The Sing for Hope Youth Chorus. Open to current NYC high school students fom all five boroughs, the chorus "strives to ignite a love of singing, fosters a safe community for self-expression, and encourages chorus members to reach their full potential for artistic and personal excellence." Membership is free, no prior music experience is necessary, Prospective members audition and if chosen receive vocal training , performance and sight-singing skills. Rehearsals are held in Midtown Manhattan twice a week, after school.

The Summer Arts Institute is a tuition-free, intensive, four-week arts program for New York City public school students entering 8th-12th grade, held at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High Schoolin Queens. Students major in dance, theater, vocal music, instrumental music, visual art, film or photography. Admission is by application and audition.

urbanwordUrban Word provides free and uncensored writing and performance opportunities to youth in all five boroughs of New York City. The workshops are designed to develop critical thinking and leadership skills and to ignite a personal commitment to growth and learning, which leads to heightened in-school performance and a greater interest in pursuing higher education.

Wingspan Arts offers a tuition-free Summer Theater Conservatory for incoming 7th- to 12th-graders. Current 6th- to 11th-graders should log on to the website for information and application. Auditions are held in January and February. High school students put on a play and a musical; middle schoolers write and produce an original work.

Whitney Museum of American Art. Youth Insights (YI) is a free, after-school program for New York City high school students in tenth through twelfth grade. Each semester, Youth Insights brings teens together with contemporary artists and Museum staff, providing opportunities to work collaboratively, discuss art critically, think creatively, and create art and writing inspired by this exchange. Teens meet once a week for fourteen weeks at the Whitney to work closely with artists on studio art or writing projects, view exhibitions, or take field trips to other museums throughout the semester. Students receive a one-trip metro card each week to travel home from the Whitney Museum and all art supplies are provided. Each term ends with an exhibition of student work at the Whitney Museum. Go to the teen section of the Whitney’s website for more information on application deadlines and events. See the student-run blog for the teens’ perspective on YI. Questions about the program can be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Math and science

The American Museum for Natural History offers more than 40 free after-school courses for high school students. Topics range from space exploration to the microscopic world of DNA and include classes in biodiversity, earth science, anthropology, genetics and astronomy. Each course lasts for a five-week session, and classes, which are held once or twice a week, usually include a field trip. The museum also offers scholarships and other programs for New York City students.

The Columbia University Science Honors Program (SHP) is a highly selective program for high school students with exceptional talent in math and science. Acceptance is based upon recommendations, grades and a three-hour examination. Students attend Saturday-morning classes at Columbia throughout the academic year. Instructors are math and science researchers at the university.

ExploraVision encourages kids to create and explore a vision of future technology. Students work in small groups, along with a team coach and an optional mentor, simulating research and development teams. Students compete in regional competitions, and the top 24 teams go to a national competition. Prizes include up to $10,000 in savings bonds.

Camp G.O.A.L.S. (Greater Opportunities Advancing Leadership and Science) for Girls. An application-based free six-week summer camp for current 8th- and 9th-grade girls from NYC public schools. About 85 accepted students will build proficiency in math and science. Through a partnership with the Rutgers School of Engineering and Science Buddies, girls will experience hands-on activities and field studies focused on aeronautics, engineering, marine science, medical science and space/astronomy. Classes take place at Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Contact Shay Saleem at 646-381-5168 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Goddard Summer Institute of Robotics (SIR), for 9th- to 12th-grade high school students, is a two-week residential program at Morgan State University in Baltimore and is hosted in conjunction with NASA. SIR explores the science and technology of robot design and operation and is for urban high school students with an interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

nasaGoddard Space Flight Center High School Internships offer a variety of opportunities for high school students, including recent graduates, at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland or at their other locations, including the New York City Research Initiative.

MITES (Minority Introduction to Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Science) is a rigorous six-week residential, academic enrichment summer program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for promising high school juniors. This program stresses the value of pursuing advanced technical degrees and careers. Members of all races and ethnicities are considered, but priority is given to students who must overcome significant odds to pursue their dream of becoming an engineer or scientist.

New York Hall of Science in Queens offers free admission September through June on Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 to 11 a.m.

The New York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSEF) is the city’s largest high school research competition. Each year, more than 1,000 high school students from New York City present their research projects to a panel of judges and compete for a variety of prizes. The NYCSEF is an Intel International Science and Engineering Fair-affiliated regional fair.

Essay contests

Alliance for Young Artists and Writers and its regional affiliates reach out to schools across the nation to identify accomplished artists and writers in grades 7-12. About 1,000 students earn national awards, including more than $1.5 million dollars in scholarships. Student work is exhibited, published and presented to a national audience.

Creative Communication sponsors essay- and poetry-writing contests for students in grades 4-12. Students compete against their peers in both age and location, and winners share more than $70,000 in prizes. Selected entries are published in a hard-bound anthology.

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest looks for original essays written by high school students about an elected official who has demonstrated political courage by choosing to do what is right rather than what is expedient. Winning essayists receive awards totaling up to $8,500. The first-place winner is invited to accept the award at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. To encourage student leadership and civic engagement, the nominating teacher of the first-place winner receives a John F. Kennedy Public Service Grant for $500.

institueofpeaceThe National Peace Essay Contest promotes serious discussion among high school students, teachers and national leaders about international peace and conflict resolution. Contest topics include national and international conflicts. College scholarship awards of $1,000 are granted to a winner in each state, and the writers of the top three essays nationally will receive scholarships of $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. All state winners are invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the awards ceremony.



History, politics and journalism


The Bella Abzug Leadership Institute (BALI) mentors and trains young women in high school and college to be proactive, principle-driven leaders of tomorrow in fields that transform society and our political system for the betterment of women. High School students participate in a two-week intensive debate and leadership training program led by  training partner, Impact Coalition, Inc. ( One of BALI’s goals is to encourage trainees to take the lessons they learned in the two-week intensive debate training program and in the on-going mentoring by our trainers, back to their schools to design an issue campaign that affects their own lives.

Children’s PressLine produces journalistic stories created by students ages 8 to 18. Stu dents act as reporters and editors and learn to conduct research, interview and edit.

The Educational Video Center offers several documentary film programs for New York City public high school students. These projects are academically rigorous and socially relevant, geared to impact not just the students but also their communities.

HarlemLive is an award-winning, critically acclaimed web magazine produced by teens from throughout New York City. It is a journalism, technology and leadership program that teaches students ages 13-21 how to run an online newspaper. The publication includes news articles, investigative stories, opinion pieces, personal essays, poetry, photography and video documentaries. The students organize events, conduct workshops and sit on panels, improving their networking and public-speaking skills.

Model New York City Council gives high school students the opportunity to step into the shoes of a New York City councilperson and experience city government from the inside. During four intensive Saturday sessions, CUNY faculty mentors will guide students through the ins and outs of political representation, the legislative process and what it means to be an active member of city government. The students then put their knowledge and 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. This is a College Now program, so students must first apply to College Now.

Museum of the City of New York hosts  Saturday Academy, a free six-week program for students in grades 8-12 who are interested in American history or SAT preparation. There's no homework or testing and all course materials are provided. Spring 2013 courses meet on April 6, 13, 20 and May 4, 11 and 18. Course offerings include classes on activist New York, public art in East Harlem and the Federal Theater Project.Apply online »The application deadline is Tuesday, March 12. Enrollment is first-come, first-served, so please apply early. Should you experience any trouble applying online, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 917-492-3401 to request that an application be mailed to your home address for you to fill out and return to the Museum of the City of New York.

The New York City Urban Debate League is the city's largest scholastic debate organization providing free  tournaments, resources for debaters, debate teachers and coaches,  and comprehensive debate education to all New York City schools and students.

The North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) is modeled after similar Linguistics Olympiads held in Eastern Europe. In these events middle and high school students learn to solve linguistic problems from dozens of the world’s languages. In the process, they learn about the richness and diversity of language and exercise natural logic and reasoning abilities. No prior knowledge of particular languages or linguistics is necessary.

Schomburg Center’s Junior Scholars Program for ages 11-17 offers a Saturday school geared toward students of African descent. Its primary goal is to ground young people in the histories and cultures of the African Diaspora. The program is an intensive, 26-week series of Saturday sessions, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Junior Scholars have access to resources at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. For applications or more information, contact Deirdre Hollman at 212-491-2234.

Teens Take the City is a program of the YMCA of Greater New York through which 500 teens from all backgrounds get involved in local government, civics and politics. The program is partly supported by the New York City Council, and each council member can nominate five students to participate.

The Collectors Club of New York sponsors a free Youth Stamp Club with monthly meetings for kids in grades 4 and up. The program welcomes experienced stamp collectors and introduces beginners to a hobby that also teaches about history, geography, famous people and events. Sessions are held beginning in September on Saturdays from 10-11:30 a.m.

The Urban Journalism Workshop at New York University is designed to encourage teens to consider a career in journalism. Twenty high school juniors and seniors from the New York City metropolitan area (the five boroughs of NYC in addition to New Jersey, Connecticut and Westchester) are selected to spend 10 days attending an intensive, rigorous journalism course at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute's new state of the art facilities in Cooper Square.

FIRST TAKE High School Journalism Workshop is a free program for high school students to jumpstart careers in journalism. Participants will learn about reporting, video editing, photojournalism, interviewing, audio production and more. The 8-week program, which is run by the New York Association of Black Journalists, takes place on Saturdays during the fall at LIU Brooklyn. Space is limited, so apply early.


Homework help

Apex for Youth mentoring programs serve primarlily Asian-Americans and recent immigrant students. Mentors help with schoolwork, English and/or college prep, play sports and games, exlpore the city and take part in group events. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . 212-748-1225 x105

The Boys’ Club of New York welcomes 6- to 20-year-old boys and charges less than a dollar a year to participate in computer classes, attend summer camp, get homework help and receive dental services. The club has a location in Flushing (Queens) and two in Manhattan. is a website run by the public libraries. The site is designed specifically to help students in grades K-12 in every area of the New York City schools curriculum and offers live, online assistance. Students and parents can also search for information on a variety of topics. 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 7 p.m.: 212-777-3380.

bankstreetThe Liberty Leads program at Bank Street College provides support to 5th- to 12th-graders six days a week for 11 months. Students have access to a wide range of academic resources, college prep classes, counseling and enrichment activities.


Environmental studies

The Garden Apprentice Program at Brooklyn Botanic Garden provides students in grades 8-12 with training and volunteer placements focused on gardening, environmental issues, science, leadership and career skills. Apprentices become an important part of the garden’s education department.

The New York Botanical Garden’s Explainer Program accepts middle and high school students between the ages of 13 and 17 who enjoy the outdoors and want to learn about plants, nature and science. The program offers the opportunity to learn about plants, develop new skills and receive personal mentoring. Explainers also help younger children who visit the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden.

At MillionTreesNYC students and families can participate in citywide volunteer tree-planting and tree-care workshops. The program is a public-private initiative launched by the City of New York Parks Department and New York Restoration Project with the goal of planting a million new trees across all five boroughs over the next decade.

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 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.