During a much anticipated tour of a highly selective and extremely appealing high school last week, I fell sound asleep. It happened in a hot and crowded auditorium, somewhere between the guidance counselor talking about the roughly 5,000 applicants for 150 spots and the principal touting the wonderful clubs and activities. When I woke up, I glanced over at my 13-year-old. Sound asleep, although he vehemently denies it. We hastily got up and rushed to catch up with the part of the tour where everyone starts peering into classrooms.
In my case, I’m re-visiting some of the same schools my oldest child openly admits he slept through just two years ago. He wanted only one school and didn’t understand the need for a back-up plan or for examining alternatives, an extremely risky strategy in a city where the supply of excellent high schools does not come close to meeting the demand. He saw an opportunity for a nap and took it, a habit I hope isn’t repeating itself now that he’s actually in the school of his choice.
The youngest is a little more curious about what different high schools have to offer. Like thousands of other eighth-graders, though, he’s exhausted by the combination of juggling homework, sports and after school activities with the demands of high school admission.<!--more-->
Our sleepiness last week might have had something to do with timing of the late afternoon tour. The sky feels prematurely dark in mid-November, and kids have already spent at least six hours in classrooms. The teachers and administrators who are giving these tours are likely equally exhausted; they held three tours in a row on our most recent visit.
So my modest proposal is this: why not have students make a low-cost video of their high school and post it on the school’s website? Many college offer virtual campus tours these days, although I am not talking about anything really fancy, nor do I see the tours as a substitute for visiting a school and checking out the kids and teachers.
Virtual tours could provide an alternative for parents and kids who are overbooked. Why not offer one on all high school websites? The schools could turn it into a project for the existing students. They can film the principal, so he or she doesn’t have to make the same speech over and over about what makes a typical Midwood, Murrow or Millennium student and repeat what the admissions requirements are. They might include scenes from classrooms, clubs and sports and allow viewers to click on topics of interest. It’s possible that some schools are already doing this, but we haven’t found any yet.
Tours and open houses are fine for those with stamina and staying power but with applications due in just two weeks,we’d be happy to curl up in front of the computer and click our way through the rest of them.
Anyone else have ideas about how to streamline – or survive – New York City high school admissions?