Last week 8th-graders finally received their high school placements. Some students are thrilled, or at least satisfied, with their placements. Some are not happy and wondering what to do next. We have advice for whichever category you're in.

First, a little perspective. NYC has the largest system of school choice in the country and this year 77,627 8th-graders applied to high schools. The Department of Education (DOE) said 73 percent (55,242 students) received an offer to one of their top three choices; 46 percent (34,343) got their top choice.

Unfortunately, every year some students don’t get placed at any of the schools on their list and instead each are matched with a high school in their borough (usually) that still has space. The DOE encourages families to submit a full 12-choice application, yet this doesn’t guarantee acceptance depending on the choices and priorities of applicants.

Overall, roughly 4,600 students (six percent) weren't matched to any school listed in their applications. A DOE representative said this figure remained steady from last year. However, among the roughly 29,500 students (38 percent) who filled all 12 slots on their applications, only three percent (roughly 900) weren't matched to any school they ranked.


Waitlists open in early June and close in August. Remember, you are automatically waitlisted for any program that you listed higher on your application than the program where you received an offer.

While waitlists are open, you may add your name to additional programs. As a result, there will be movement during this time; you may see your name move up and down a waitlist depending on where you stand in terms of the school's admissions priorities versus where other students stand. Students get offers on a rolling basis as families make final choices.

Manage your expectations. Schools that are in high demand likely will offer few if any seats to waitlisted students.

Also, be easy to find. If a school offers you a spot from the waitlist, they will call and email you. You will then have one week to choose between your current match and the waitlist offer.

If you’d like to know more about waitlists watch this video and attend one of the DOE's virtual information sessions on high school offers and waitlists.

I’m happy with my match

Great! If you received one offer there is nothing else you need to do. It is automatically accepted. If you received more than one offer, you have until June 25, 2021 to make your choice.

I'm not happy with my match

If your child did not get into their preferred NYC public high school—or any high school on their list of up to 12 choices—try to stay calm. There’s a lot of hype around high school placements, and teens will feel bad if they don’t get into the high school they wanted.

Your first step should be to take a fresh look at your child’s match. Sometimes learning a bit more about the school will ease your concerns.

Read “Our Insights” on the school’s InsideSchools profile, check out the school’s data by clicking on the green bars and read the comments section. If the school is hosting an event (virtual or in-person) for accepted students, attend it and ask lots of questions.

Our community forum, InsideSchools+, is another great place to bring your questions.

If you remain confident that the match is not acceptable, then our advice is to begin advocating with a Family Welcome Center when the waitlists go live, even if your child is high on a waitlist for one of their preferred schools. There are no guarantees but persistence may pay off.

Also, at some point in August waitlists close and, if space opens up after that, the Family Welcome Center will fill those seats based on who still needs a spot (such as newcomers to the city and those who are seeking an alternative placement). This is why persistence is important. There are no guarantees, but if the Family Welcome Center knows you’re looking for a different option and a space appears at a different school that’s a better match, they may call you. And please keep an open mind, as any alternate placement offered at this point will likely be to a school that you didn't rank on your application.

Good luck and keep us posted.