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Private High School Admissions Considerations


Get started early. At least as early as the summer before you wish to apply. If you're hoping to enroll for the Fall of 2010, that means you'll be applying in the Fall of '09. It's good to start looking into schools in the Winter and Spring of '09 and then to set your child up with a practice exam at the beginning of the Summer of '09. From there you can plan out a comprehensive schedule, allowing enough time for your child to get ready for the real exam, and yourself enough time to help get all of his or her application materials ready for the Fall. In addition to tests and grades, most schools ask for a personal essay from the parents.


Even within Manhattan, the diversity of private, parochial, and magnet schools is astounding. It is best to get started searching for the right school for your child as early as possible. Finding a fit is about more than just prestige and academic rigor - it’s about choosing an environment where your child will thrive.

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Some schools have athletic programs that make them the obvious choice for gifted tennis and basketball players. Other schools are almost entirely focused on the arts. Still others are math and science powerhouses, but don’t offer much in the way of great English teachers or creative writing programs. We recommend you visit as many schools as you can, and that you keep your children as involved in the process as you can. Some kids want nothing more than to be able to go to a "campus" school just outside of the city; others will do anything to avoid the extra bus time.

A school's philosophy can be a great tool for getting an initial read on what your child’s experience there will be like, but there's no substitute for in-person visits. There are a number of different private high school guide books on the market to help you narrow down your choices, but once you've done so, it's best to start getting information from the schools themselves. That way, you can see if the school lives up to its reputation, and how well it presents itself.

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