Be careful when drawing up your list of (up to) 12 high school choices. Don't list a school you are not willing to attend. If you are assigned to a school you hate, but listed it on your application, it will be very hard to get placed elsewhere.

But...make sure to apply to enough schools with a variety of admissions methods to increase your chances of getting a match. How many should you list? You should aim for 12 and fewer than eight is not enough.

Rank your favorite school first. There's no need to play guessing games or set up an elaborate strategy. Schools will not see which students rank them first, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by ranking your top choice number one.

Don't apply to a school for which you absolutely do not qualify. If a school looks for students with a minimum 85 average or above and your GPA is 70, your chances of getting accepted are slim to none. Likewise, if you live in Queens and you're applying to a popular District 2 school that gives preference to Manhattan, you're not likely to be accepted.

If you have a zoned school you must list it as one of your choices to be given priority in admissions. However, it doesn’t have to be your top choice if there are other programs you like more.

Many large schools offer several programs. If you really want to attend a certain school, apply to more than one program.

Make sure your parent or guardian approves of your choices on you final application. Nobody, including your guidance counselor, should persuade you to add choices without consulting your parent or guardian.

Keep a copy of your completed application. Print a copy of your completed application that you submited online. Chances are no errors will occur in the processing of your appliction, but if they do occur, you'll have proof of which schools you applied to and how you ranked them.

Poor attendance or lateness record? Ask your guidance counselor to send a note to schools you're applying to (and put a note in your records) explaining any extenuating circumstances such as an illness, which affected your attendance in school.