Everything You Need to Know Now About Applying for New York City High Schools in 2019

It’s hard to believe, but your little one is not so little anymore. He or she will be applying for high school this fall! Where has the time gone, you ask? We can’t help you there. But we CAN give you a little help with the often-confusing application process. 

So you’re looking at the application, which claims to be offered in at least five different languages, yet even the English version isn’t making much sense.  

It says there are over 700 programs in over 400 high schools available to New York City public school students. Where on earth do you begin? We’ve broken down the who, what, where, when, why and how of everything you really need to know. 

Who can apply? Any child who is a current eighth grader and a resident of New York City is eligible to apply for a NYC public high school for the 20-20-2021 school year. You should have already received a welcome letter from  the Department of Education to your home offering some helpful instructions on the application process.

When can you apply? The deadline to apply is December 2, 2019. If your child doesn’t receive an offer or is unhappy with his offer, then he will have another opportunity to apply (Round 2) in March. 

If your child is planning to apply for any of New York City’s nine Specialized High Schools (except for Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts), he will need to register for the SHSAT test by October 10, 2019. Students applying for LaGuardia must submit a portfolio and audition to be considered.

What are my options? Here in Staten Island, there are 11 district high schools with over 50 programs available, plus one Specialized High School program. There are over 4,000 seats available to 9th graders on the Island, but you can apply anywhere within the five boroughs. New York City public students have more school options available than anywhere else in the country! Some programs cater to specific interests and skills while others are more beneficial to students who are new to the country. Thre are programs that focus on creating specific learning environments. 

As we mentioned earlier (and can’t stress enough) attending open houses is a MUST. Visiting a school is the best way to explore if it may be the right place for you. It’s also a great way to see how long the trip is from home. You can contact schools directly to find out if they have special events or student-guided tours, but plan to attend as many open houses with your child as you can. Show up prepared with a list of questions – about everything from courses offered to daily schedules and extracurricular activities – and be ready to write down the answers. Your High School Directory includes a helpful page of questions to ask at an open house. And here’s a tip: Write your contact information very clearly on sign-in sheets, as schools often notice which prospective students have attended their events. 

How do I apply? This part is tricky, but not quite rocket science. And if you do it right the first time, you have a 97% chance of getting an offer the first time around. By do it right, we mean if you list 12 programs on your application, in your true order of preference. Don’t worry about the schools seeing the order — they won’t know how high they rank on your list. But the higher you rank a school on your list, the higher the chance you will receive an offer. 

You should estimate your child’s likelihood of being offered a seat in the schools of interest to him. Some schools extend offers based mostly on zoning, while others screen applicants, taking into consideration seventh grade report card grades and state test scores (however, New York State law prohibits schools from utilizing state test scores as major factors in admissions decisions). Be sure to research your preferred school’s admission’s methods before applying.

You should also take note of the number of applicants per seat. For example, 10 applicants per seat indicate the school is in high demand whereas 3-4 applicants per seat indicate a lower demand.  On the application, you may see fields marked “reach,” “target,” and “likely.” According to the DOE, “reach” means you are less likely to be offered a spot, “target” means your chances of getting an offer are average, and “likely” points to a higher chance of receiving an offer.

Some schools offer priority to applicants based on diversity. High schools that are participating in the diversity initiative will give a certain percentage of applicants in the incoming ninth and tenth grades an admissions priority if they qualify as economically disadvantaged based on federal income guidelines. You can learn more about this at the DOE website (link to it at siparent.com/highschool).

Your 2020 High School Directory will include a complete list of New York City schools and programs to which you can apply, along with important information for each. You can also search for schools using the School Finder at schoolfinder.nyc.gov. (Or go to siparent.com/highschool to link directly to both the directory and the School Finder website)

 You can apply online via the MySchools app or website at myschools.nyc/en/. If you need help, visit a Family Welcome Center. Staten Island’s Family Welcome Center is located at 715 Ocean Terrace, Building A. 

What’s new with the admissions process for 2020? There are  few updates to the high school admissions process this year, but they won’t change how to apply to high school, how to get an offer, or where the offer is from.

When your child receives his high school offer, he will also receive a list of programs where he has been waitlisted. He will be automatically added to the waitlist of any program that he listed higher on his application than the program where he received an offer.

What other options do I have? Some parents would rather their children not attend traditional public school. If you fall into this category, you might be interested in charter schools, one of the specialized high schools, a career/technical school or private schools. 

Charter Schools
Charter schools are independent public schools founded by not-for-profit Boards of Trustees. They operate under a contract (or “charter”) of up to five years. Charter schools are New York City public schools and they are open to all New York City students. Many charter schools have unique educational approaches that may include longer school days, a longer school year, or themed programs. Charter schools have a different enrollment process. For information about a specific charter school and its enrollment deadline, contact the school directly. You can also learn how to enroll in charter schools at siparent.com/highschool.

Specialized High Schools
The nine specialized high schools offer support to students who excel academically and/or artistically. They are: 

• The Bronx High School of Science
• The Brooklyn Latin School
• Brooklyn Technical High School
• HS for Mathematics, Science & Engineering at City College of NY
• High School of American Studies at Lehman College
• Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
• Staten Island Technical High School
• Stuyvesant High School
• Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art

You must register for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test and/or LaGuardia High School auditions by October 10, 2019. Once you receive your Welcome Letter and create your MySchools account, you can schedule your test and/or audition.

Catholic School
If you are considering a Catholic high school for your child, there are a variety of coeducational and single-sex schools, many of which offer partnerships with local Catholic colleges and universities. On Staten Island, there are six Catholic High Schools – two are all boys, one is all girls, and three are co-ed. 

To apply to a Catholic High school, eighth grade students must take an admissions exam called TACHS (Test for Admission into Catholic High Schools). The dealine to register is October 21, 2019. 

Students and parents are invited to visit the facilities and learn more about the programs offered. Fairs and open houses are generally scheduled prior to the TACHS exam date, but if you are unable to attend a one you should contact the school to set up an appointment. 

Catholic School admissions notices will begin distribution on January 15, 2020 and may be received via email, mail or phone.

Career & Technical Schools
These schools integrate academic study with workforce skills in specific career pathways. They offer students the opportunity to graduate high school with industry-specific competencies, skills, training, and even credentials that can lead to college or entry into the workforce. Through these programs, students have the opportunity to earn Advanced Regents diplomas.

Is there a different enrollment process for students with disabilities? Students with disabilities may apply to all programs and are subject to the same admissions requirements as their peers. They may take the SHSAT and apply for all audition programs, including Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts. Testing accommodations will be provided during the SHSAT administration as outlined in the student’s IEP.

When will I receive an offer? In March, all New York City students will get a high school offer letter. This letter will include their high school offer and/or, if applicable, results from the specialized high schools admissions process, which may include a specialized high school offer or offers. 

We know it seems like a lot to take in all at once, but try to relax. Take a breather. Go heat up your coffee. Then visit siparent.com/highschool for direct links to everything you need to know about applying to high school and more: a complete list of schools and programs, applications, school fair dates, open house dates, test dates, deadlines, important pages on the Dept. of Education website as well as the Catholic Schools website – and many more resources vital to the high school admission process.

Need even more help? If you would like to discuss the admission process, speak to your child’s guidance counselor directly. You can never have too much information! 

Below you will find list of helpful links that will guide you through the process. You can link directly to all of these websites and more at siparent.com/highschool.

• For in-depth Public High School Enrollment Information: schools.nyc.gov/enrollment/enroll-grade-by-grade/high-school

• To submit a high school application: myschools.nyc/en/

• For information on the selection process: vimeo.com/288797789

• To learn about applying to a Catholic High School: tachsinfo.com

• To see a Citywide list of High School Fairs: surveygizmo.com/s3/5149588/e2f77e98e5aa

• Learn how to enroll in a Charter School: pwsauth.nycenet.edu/enrollment/enroll-in-charter-schools

• Learn how to apply to a Specialized High School: pwsauth.nycenet.edu/enrollment/enroll-grade-by-grade/specialized-high-schools