NYC Admissions Solutions is pleased to present the first in our continuing series of guest blogs. We welcome comments and invite others to participate. In the following blog, Elissa Stein gives her perspective as a parent going through the high school admissions process for a second time…
A Parent’s Perspective
By Elissa Stein
With 4 tours behind us and a slew to contend with when classes start in September, the thing I keep telling my 8th grade son is: it’s only high school. You’ll make friends, work hard, have new experiences and then move on. One day, where you went to high school will be just another part of your growing up.
That’s hard to hold onto in the craziness that is the NYC public school system. The unwieldy process fraught with unknowns. The responsibility of families to navigate and negotiate, often with little guidance. The vastly different systems and parameters every institution has along with reputations and rumors about each.
I’ve been through this before. My daughter starts her junior year (how can that be?) at Brooklyn Tech. While on the one hand the second time will be easier as I have a sense of what to expect and how things work, my son is a very different kid so we’re starting from scratch. But I learned some valuable lessons the last go round that I’m sticking with again.
Keep an open mind. Schools my daughter and I expected to love we didn’t. Conversely we were happily surprised by others we thought we would never have been interested in.
See as many schools as you can. They are vastly different. Pay attention to details: the commute, the neighborhood, the building, work on the walls. Ask questions on tour. Get people from the school talking to get a better sense of who your child will be spending time with.
Write your observations down. The fall becomes such a blur it’ll help to have concrete notes to look back on. My son and I have a “three thing” deal. After a tour/open house he needs to list the three things that struck him the most. This has led, every time, to a more in depth conversation and is helping him discover what does and doesn’t appeal to him.
Let go of first choice expectations. Many kids do get their first choice but many others do not. Your child will have terrific opportunities at any of the schools they put on their list. But make sure you and your child feel comfortable with everything on his/her list.
Unless someone has personal experience at a school, take their input with a grain of salt. Countless people will have opinions or know someone who knows someone. That’s nothing but hearsay. Even as a Tech parent I can only speak to the experiences my child has had.
Lastly, listen to your child. He/she will be the one spending the next four years in this new place, not you. I found Tech completely overwhelming and was worried my daughter would be lost there. She reassured me it was the place she most wanted to be. And in the end she was right.
Elissa Stein is an author, graphic designer, jewelry maker, PTA president, kidney donor, yogi, brownie baker and knitter of too many scarves.