It’s relatively easy to pick and find schools you like or have heard good things about. This is what the vast majority of families do when they make choices in the NYC high school admissions process.


For most 6th or 7th grade families, this means asking yourself a few simple questions – and if you haven’t asked yourselves these questions already, you probably will be very soon:


  • What schools sound or look interesting?
  • Where do my child’s friends who are happy go to school?
  • What have we heard about this school or that one?


Along these lines, one of the most common questions I get is, “What are the best schools?”


The truth is, it would be relatively easy to talk about the latest, hot schools, or schools that have a strong track record that everyone knows about.


With more time and conversation with a family, I can recommend schools that might be a good fit based on what I have learned about the student or family, their needs and wants, skills, talents, etc.


Strong schools.  Good fit.  Sounds like enough information, right?  Is that always enough to have the soundest strategy possible for the high school admissions process?  The answer is no.


And let me clarify this by saying that when I refer to ‘strategy,’ I am referring to the most effective ways to help a family achieve their goals – not the least of which is helping them have as many viable options on the table as possible, and to be in the best position possible to ultimately secure a school of choice.   As I often say, think college admissions.


To illustrate my point, in addition to the questions above, some important questions related to developing the best strategy possible include:


  • How do I compare to other students applying to the same schools?
  • For the schools I’m considering, what do they look for in an applicant?
  • Am I choosing the right types of schools, or overlooking any that may improve my chances?
  • Do any applicants get priority over others?
  • Are there schools I don’t know about that may be a great fit?
  • How are applicants evaluated, and how are offers made?
  • How does the school ranking process work?
  • What criteria are most heavily weighted?
  • Does my entire list of schools give me the best chance possible of achieving my admissions goals?
  • What is my ‘plan B’ if I don’t get one of my top choices?


If you haven’t gotten help answering these questions yet, a good place to start is by keeping these questions handy and consulting your school counselor or another expert.    Your strategy is not optimal unless you are addressing them, along with the other, basic questions that indeed represent a good start.