Thursday, May 21, 2009

DOE High School Info Meeting Notes

 I think the HS admissions meeting at the auditorium at Joan of Arc school last night was definitely worth it. Bonnie Gross, Director of High School Admissions was speaking when I arrived. Here are the main points I came away with. 

Do not put ANY school on your list of twelve schools that your child would not want to attend or which you would not want your child to attend. She could not say this enough, saying we would be shocked at the amount of people who put schools on the list that they would not want to attend simply thinking that it's "better" to have more schools on the list than less.

Do not underestimate the importance of your child's commute time to school. Fully 85% of appeals are transportation issues, Bonnie said, and remarkably most are from parents who put the school they know they do not want to send their child to at the top of the list. Bonnie says:

Use to check out the commute time door to door from your apartment to the school, but don't stop there. Take your child to the school at the exact time during the week      when he/she would be travelling. Overcrowded trains and morning rush hour should be taken into account. AND, if you choose a school that has more than a 40 minute commute, consider that your child might not get home until 6PM if they participate in afterschool sports and/or clubs.

If your child's pre-printed HS application does not have his/her grades on it, ask your guidance counselor when the grades will be put on, and request to see the grades that are on the application. Compare the grades to the 7th grade report card your child got (keep this; it's important). Guidance counselors are busy. Computers can spit out the wrong number. It's up to you to make sure what's on it is accurate.

If your child has been absent/late for 8 or more times, talk to your guidance counselor if these have been due to extenuating circumstances: illness, family issues, etc. There is a space on the application to notify the DOE of absences/lateness due to extenuating circumstances.

If your child is in an honors program or an accelerated/honors class, make sure this is noted on the application.

If your child is taking the specialized HS exam decide upon the Specialized HSs he/she wants to attend BEFORE the exam is taken. Preferences should be noted on the ticket your child will get for the specialized test.

The Specialized exam for Manhattan students will take place on November 7 and 8, Sat and Sunday, at Stuyvesant. If your child has a conflict or cannot take the exam on either day due to religious observance then notify your guidance counselor.

If your child is sick the day of the Specialized exam then your child SHOULD NOT take the exam. Once the seal is broken on the exam the exam cannot be taken on a makeup day.

The best information for HS open houses is on that particular HSs web site. Do research over the summer, using the directory and HS web sites, and set up tours if possible before September.

While Bonnie does not want to be inundated with calls about issues about which you can talk to our schools' guidance counselors, she did provide the email for her office and a phone number: and 212-374-2363

 Provided by Nancy Brandwein 


  1. Excellent notes Nancy! The only thing I would add from the prior meeting is that there are four rounds of admissions. 1) Preliminary which comes with the Specialized's, 2) Main, 3) Supplementary (if you don't get in on the main), and 4) Appeal. My understanding is that there is a second high school fair between Rounds 2 and 3 to help families find a school.

    They also said there would be workshops over the summer, whatever that means.

  2. Yes, one advantage of having your child take the specialized test is they not only find out about the specialized offer during the preliminary round but the offer from any screened school, so it short circuits the waiting process IF, that is, your child gets into a specialized school. If not, you won't hear until the main round, which is in March.