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Tools to get you through the NYC high school admissions process

Students try out the Heckscher Foundation for Children's

Students try out the Heckscher Foundation for Children's NYC High School Application Guide. Photo Credit: Lesly Weiner Photography

Applying to public high schools in New York City can be a daunting task, from the sheer number of options available to the notoriously difficult admissions process.

As a result, a number of resources have been developed, from websites to new apps, to help simplify the process.

"New York City's 75,000 eighth grade students rank their top 12 choices from among 700-plus public high school programs. Yet thousands of young teens and their families -- predominantly from lower-income households -- lack the support they need to identify best fits," said Peter Sloane, CEO of the Heckscher Foundation for Children, which is currently developing an app to help guide families through the city's high school admissions process. "As a result, underserved youth are significantly more likely to select and attend schools rated lower for academics, climate and graduation rates."

Need some guidance? Here are six resources available to learn more about NYC public schools:


School Central NYC

This free app, available for iOS and Android, allows users to search for an NYC public high school by name, as well as view potential schools by entering their address. Each school has a profile that includes information on enrollment numbers, demographics, test scores, evaluations and admissions, as well as basics such as the grades served, address, phone number and website.


NYC High School Application Guide

This free app by the Heckscher Foundation for Children, currently being beta-tested, is scheduled to be available between October and December for iOS and Android. The app was designed by a team led by Neil Dorosin, the former Director of High School Admissions Operations at the city's Department of Education, and "acts as a virtual guidance counselor," Sloane said. "Students are asked a series of questions. Using this information, the HS Guide sorts through the 470 public high schools in NYC's five boroughs and returns a list of those schools that are the best match."


School Quality Reports

The Department of Education's school evaluations, which replaced the previous letter grade system starting with the 2013-14 school year, provide a summary of key facts about each public high school, including demographics, number of English language learners, student attendance rates, the current principal's tenure and test scores. It also rates the school on such factors as how well teachers work together, the effectiveness of the teaching, student progress and school environment. School results are compared against the city average.

At this website, an independent project by the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School on NYC public schools, visitors can search for high schools by interest, as well as enter their boroughs of choice and GPA to refine the search to schools they are able to apply to. Information on graduation rates, college enrollment rates, college readiness, subway lines that serve the school, safety information and more are available.

This nationwide website features information on schools from kindergarten through college. At the high school level in NYC, visitors can find details about the curriculum, advanced placement offerings, extracurriculars, diversity of the student body and more, as well as information on deadlines and admission priorities. The site allows visitors to ask questions about the schools anonymously too.

Another nationwide resource, this resource gives a comprehensive look at public, as well as private and boarding schools, from K-12. It offers ratings, student-to-teacher ratios, demographics, statistics on state testing and graduation rates. Users can easily compare multiple schools listed in their district.


Upcoming workshops

New to the high school admissions processo The city's Department of Education is hosting a series of workshops that can help you through it, from finding high schools that fit your needs to tips on developing your application to admissions for NYC's nine Specialized High Schools. All workshops are at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit

Introduction to High School Admissions

July 14
Prospect Heights Educational Campus, 883 Classon Ave., Crown Heights

July 15
Queens College (Colden Auditorium), 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing
Staten Island Technical High School, 485 Clawson St., Staten Island

July 16
Herbert H. Lehman High School, 3000 East Tremont Ave., Bronx
Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus, 122 Amsterdam Ave. (for families with last name beginning with A-N)
Murry Bergtraum Educational Campus, 411 Pearl St. (for families with last name beginning with O-Z)

Specialized High School Admissions

July 21
Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus, 122 Amsterdam Ave. (for families with last name beginning with A-N)
Murry Bergtraum Educational Campus, 411 Pearl St. (for families with last name beginning with O-Z)

July 23
Queens College, Colden Auditorium, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing


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