If you are a 6th or 7th grade family in NYC, you are probably at least somewhat aware of what 8th grade families have been experiencing over the past several months with the high school admissions process – whether it’s for public, private, parochial, charter, or any other kind of high school.


You may have heard the stories about the school research, the choices, the school visits, the open houses, the fairs, the interviews, the writing samples, the rumors about how the process works or doesn’t work….I could go on and on.    And we haven’t even finished the year yet.


You may also be thinking to yourself, “What can I be doing to prepare for this process now, to make things just a bit easier for my child (if not a LOT easier), to give my child every possible chance of being in a good position – so that MY child can ultimately get a high school where he or she will flourish??”


For 6th and 7th grade families on the ball and eager to get a ‘leg up,’ allow me to outline some DOs and DON’TS that you – the 6th, and especially the 7th grade families – should consider over the remainder of the school year.




  • Get yourself a notebook and calendar, specifically for the high school search. Start by blocking aside 1-3 hours per month on a weekend (or when you have some free time) for now, but no more than that.


  • Consider other people who can provide personal guidance along the way and be a part of your team, whether it’s a trusted friend, school counselor, admissions consultant, or someone else who can provide you with accurate, unbiased advice. Going it alone is not advisable and will only mean spending more time unproductively, likely with more stress, over the long haul.


  • Make a list of the Top 10 things you/your child LIKE about your current school, and another Top 10 things you do NOT like. Use this as a starting point for your school search strategy.


  • Another Top 10 for your child: Jot down 10 strengths, things you are good at, or things you are proud of, or even things that make you happy if you are stuck. Students are often reluctant to brag, but it’s important to acknowledge your strengths as a foundation for the school search and conversations you are likely to have with schools down the road.


  • Start to get familiar with the types of schools you could choose – whether it’s public, private, parochial, or charter. Again, jot down the positives and negatives for each, keeping in mind what’s most important for your (You may even want to read my article on public vs. private on Noodle.com bit.ly/1Ieuwf8 )


  • Get copies or make note of the high school directory (most 7th graders will get the new one in June from your school counselor), school websites, and other key resources and start to get familiar with school options available to you. Write down what high schools are looking for, whether it is grades, test scores, interviews, portfolio, audition, etc. (Bonus: Set academic goals for 7th grade based on what your dream schools are looking for!)


  • Remember the importance of 6th and 7thgrade when applying to high school – keeping in mind that public high schools will look most closely at 7th grade record, including attendance!


  • Prepare for and take the 7th grade NY State ELA and Math exams, as they continue to play an important role in how many selective high schools evaluate candidates – despite the opt-out movement.


  • Start to learn about key admissions concepts like ‘admissions method,’ or ‘admissions priority.’ These will play a pivotal role during your search and could spell trouble if ignored.


  • Start tracking your thoughts in writing on schools you hear about or research; it can be as easy as writing down what you like and don’t like, along with any questions you have. When you see a school during your travels, take a picture and then do 5 minutes of research when you get home. When a friend or neighbor mentions a school, jot it down in your notebook. A good resource for your public school research is Insideschools.org.


  • Start to put together a portfolio of exemplary work, if you haven’t already – even if it’s putting something into a folder once a month.


  • Subscribe to valuable, informational resources now to become more familiar with the process.  Here are two:



  • Consider visiting some schools in the spring that host informational events for 7th grade families. This will help lessen the burden you will have in 8th


  • Attend high school admissions events held by the NYC Dept of Ed, NYCAS , and ask a lot of questions!


  • As your list evolves, consider attending some events at schools of interest – performing arts, sports, visual arts, debate competitions, etc. These informal events can give you a wealth of information prior to the official admissions events.


  • Set a goal of having a written list of schools in each category (public, specialized public, private, Catholic, charter) by end of 7th grade (no sooner). These lists should be as robust as possible – shoot for at least 15 public schools, not including the specialized!


  • Finally, you may want to consider getting your feet wet preparing for SHSAT, ISEE/SSAT, TACHS, and/or audition prep by end of 7th grade if not sooner. If nothing else, start to compile a list of trusted resources or companies that could fit your budget.




  • Overdo it. You will burn out later on. No more than a few hours per month for now.


  • Wait to get involved.  You will not be able to get this time back, and you will regret not being more prepared. It may seem counterintuitive and requires discipline, but spending some productive time now will help you save time and aggravation later on.


  • Eliminate schools from consideration in haste.  It’s too early for that.


  • Take what someone else says as law, unless he/she is a credible expert. Check out my article on Chalkbeat here.


  • Remove your child from playing a role in the process. The more empowered your child is, the more comfortable everyone will be with the result.


  • Rely on one resourceonly as the be-all and end-all.


  • Assume your experience will be just like another family’s experience – the good experiences or not so good! Be wary of one-size-fits-all advice.


  • Assume the ‘brand name schools’ you hear about are right for your Check out my article on this topic here.


All the best!!


P.S. We offer a free, initial phone consultation to help evaluate how we can help you and your child. Email Info@nycadmissionssolutions.com or call us at 347-709-2258.



(NYC Admissions Solutions offers “My 6th/7th Grade Plan,” a customized plan exclusively for 6th or 7th grade families looking for a personalized action plan and high school admissions roadmap for your child – contact us for more details!)