The high school application process for eighth graders has begun here in New York City and across middle schools throughout the country. In my school, our guidance counselor has already begun holding meetings to teach students and parents how to utilize the high school handbook and what to look for when choosing the right school.
As I sat in on one of the orientations, I realized that this entire process can be extremely intimidating not only to my students but also to their parents who are overwhelmed with all of the important decisions that need to be made. Most parents are not aware of what their rights and options are with regards to choosing schools for their children. They fret over this decision due to the fact that their kids could potentially end up spending the next four years of their academic careers within the school that they ultimately picked.
There are many things that students and parents can do in order to make more informed decisions about which high school will be chosen. It is very important that they collect as much information as possible about these potential high schools and there are a number of ways to do that:
* High School Fairs-Here in NYC we have citywide and borough-wide high school fairs. The purpose of these fairs is to showcase the staff and programs of each individual high school. Students and parents are encouraged to attend and are provided with brochures and literature informing them of each school’s academic, sports, and art programs. They are normally held in the early fall right before high school applications are scheduled to be turned in.
* Open Houses-Most high schools host open houses where students and parents can visit each individual school and be part of a guided tour which allows them to get a first-hand look at the campus, academic programs, faculty, students, and location. This is a great way to get a feel for the school and to establish connections with potential mentors.
* Word of Mouth-Students who already attend potential high schools and their parents can be important resources of information when it comes down to finding out whether a certain school will be a good fit for your child. They will be able to share valid information with you about that high school’s community beyond what you read in their brochure. You should, however, be cautious about who you receive information from because it’s important to keep in mind that a school might be a good choice for one child but not for another.
* High School Directory-The high school directory that your child has been given at school is a great resource of information about potential high schools. It contains all sorts of information including: The application process for each school, yearly graduation rate, the programs that each school offers, location, demographics, and eligibility. It is important that you and your child familiarize yourselves with this publication and spend time together learning about each individual school.
* Guidance Counselor-Your middle school’s guidance counselor should definitely become your best friend this year. He/she will keep you abreast of all high school application requirements and help you to meet all of the scheduled deadlines for submitting applications. Although they are not allowed to influence you with regards to the high school that you ultimately choose, they know your child pretty well and will be able to point you in the right direction of schools that are suitable to meet your child’s individual needs.
This entire process will definitely prove to be an exhausting one. At the end of the day, however, making informed decisions about the high school that your middle schooler will attend will guarantee a fruitful and productive high school experience for your child. You will be laying a solid academic foundation that will carry your child through secondary school and hopefully even through their path to higher learning and beyond.
Creative commons-licensed photo provided by Nieve44/Luz.
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