Applying to some highly regarded New York City public schools, requires insider knowledge, writes Monica Disare on Chalkbeat. Scoring a seat at the open house isn’t easy. Many schools give admissions preferences to students who came to an open house or information session.
One day last fall, Ruby Bromberg rushed to her computer and frantically began refreshing the page to see when Bard High School Early College — a high-performing public school in Manhattan — would post its open house registration. When the site went live, she clicked through as fast as she could and snagged a coveted seat.
Slots filled up in less than 15 minutes, the principal told open-house attendees.
Ruby knew to be at her computer to sign up at precisely the right time because her family paid $150 for a service called High School 411. The service sends email updates with information and reminders about coveted open house slots. Without it, the website says, “families are left in the dark and on their own.”
In theory, students can show interest — essential for admission — by signing up at a high school fair, but not all schools participate, writes Disare, “and there is no way to track whether those sign-ups count.”
Yahayra Colon, a top student at her Washington Heights middle school, didn’t visit any potential high schools. She disliked her first high school, transferred to another that was “scary,” tried Catholic school (her mother took a second job to pay for it), then tried a fourth and a fifth public school. She’s starting at SUNY Oneonta this fall.
By contrast, savvy parents begin visiting potential high schools when their children are in seventh grade, writes Disare.