It's time for 7th-graders to be thinking about applying to high school. The Department of Education announced key dates for rising 8th-graders including its annual series of July high school admissions information sessions.

The 2017 high school directory is online, and paper copies are available for every 7th-grader at schools and at Family Welcome Centers. In addition to the 600-page book that lists every city high school, there are now individual directories for each borough. Students may see at a glance the different kinds of programs in each borough and what the particular challenges are for students applying. 

In another change, the directory now makes it easier to understand the odds of acceptance to a school whether you are in the pool of general education (GE) students or are a student with a disability (SWD). For each school there's information on the number of GE and SWD seats available, how many applicants there were for each category in the previous year and whether or not those seats were filled.

Every year many students apply to schools to which they have little chance of being accepted because they don't meet the academic criteria, don't live in the priority area, or too many students apply to the same few schools. For the first time, this year's directory shows the percentage of offers made to students in the top admissions priority group. For example, tiny Baruch College Campus High School in Manhattan gets more applications—5,447 in 2016 for only 111 seats—than almost any school in the city even though it gives priority to District 2 students. Now, prospective students can see that 99 percent of offers went to District 2 students, which means that students from other parts of the city, including other Manhattan districts, typically don't get in.

How best to use the directory? Read through the opening pages, which detail the timeline, different admissions methods, types of high schools and factors to consider as you select a high school. As you consider your options, use the directory in conjunction with Insideschools. Learn more about individual high schools by reading our school profiles. Each one includes lots of useful information including a written review and InsideStats—a compilation of useful data we provide for every school in the city. Also check out our written and video guides on "How to apply to high school".

If you want more explanation about the high school admissions process and an opportunity to ask questions, go to one of the Department of Education's high school admissions workshops in July.

The workshops will be held in Brooklyn on July 12 at the Prospect Heights Educational Campus, In the Bronx and Staten Island on July 13 at Lehman High School and Staten Island Tech High School, in Manhattan on July 18 at Hunter College and in Queens on July 19 at Queens College. All sessions run from 6:30–8 pm.

Interested in arts schools? Make sure to read pages 18 and 19 of the directory. A select group of 14 arts schools or programs accept "common audition components", which means that students will be able to save a lot of time by preparing the same audition or portfolio for consideration at each of the 14 participating schools. 

Specialized high school workshop & summer sign-up for the SHSAT and LaGuardia audition

Workshops about the city's nine specialized high schools, which admit students based on an exam or audition, will be held in Manhattan on July 20 at Hunter College and in Queesn on July 21 at Queens College. The same information will be provided at both workshops.

Specialized high school handbooks, including a sample test are available online and at the information sessions. Most students do some prep work or take a course before sitting for the two-and-a-half hour test, which will be given on Oct. 22-23, 2016 to 8th-graders.

Incoming 9th- and 10th-graders who moved to New York City after Nov. 1, 2015 may sign up for the Aug. 29, 2016 SHSAT exam, and the Aug. 30 audition for LaGuardia High School. Registration begins on July 16 and ends on Aug. 24 at Family Welcome Centers. See more information here.