Research and compile a list of high schools that may be a good fit. Start by reading up on how to apply to and explore your options for high school. Watch our video guides. Use our Find a New York City Public School search engine to browse among the city’s 400+ high schools for ones that may appeal to you. You can search for a specific school, find out if you are zoned for a high school (most students are not) and research options based on location or interest. Read our school profiles. Each one includes a written review, school contact information, reader comments, details on sports, activities and admissions policies, and a compilation of useful data about the school’s performance and environment.
Mind your calendar. We recommend setting up your own high school admissions calendar. Start by entering key dates such as the citywide and borough fairs, SHSAT (Specialized High School Admissions Test) and the high school application deadline. In addition, as soon as you sign up for an open house, tour, interview, audition or exam, put the date and time on your calendar. If a school requires applicants to submit a portfolio or project, jot down the due dates for handing them in. Does your child have any upcoming projects or activities at her school? Note those too. You don’t want your child to miss out on an important middle school event or end up touring a high school the day of a big exam or presentation in class.
Sign up for tours and open houses. The Department of Education (DOE) maintains a calendar of high school open houses and tours taking place throughout the city. It’s not a complete list so if you don’t see a school that you’re interested in, check its individual website. If the school does not have a website and they are not listed on the DOE’s calendar, call the school directly to request more information. You can find a school’s contact information, including a link to its independent website, in the Contact & Location section of its InsideSchools profile.
Important: Some schools require parents and students to register for a tour or open house and at popular schools these slots tend to fill up fast. If you see that all the tours and open houses are full, keep checking back or call the parent coordinator. Sometimes schools add more tours and open houses in response to high demand.
Keep track of admissions criteria. You have a lot to remember, so write it all down. Some schools require an interview, an essay, exam, audition or the submission of school work. Make sure you meet all admissions criteria listed in the DOE'S High School Directory. If you are auditioning for an arts school, take note that several of them have common audition components so you don't have to prepare different auditions for each school. You can find a list of schools with common audition components on page 26 of the 2018 High School Directory. Does a school give preference to students who attend an open house or sign in at a fair? If so, jot that down too and make sure to get to the open house or high school fair. Once you have your criteria list set up, keep it handy and check off the admissions requirements as you fulfill them.
Put together a folder of your child’s 7th and early 8th grade work and make copies of the best pieces. Some schools ask to look at samples of student work that were graded by their teacher. Our advice: Start rummaging through closets, drawers and old backpacks now to find your child’s 7th grade work. Also ask him to give you all his completed 8th grade assignments as soon as the teacher hands them back. You don’t want to find out the night before an interview or submissions deadline that your child is missing pages of a research paper, or that her A+ math assignment that was on display in the classroom never made it home.