It’s understandable to want to get a feel of the high schools you’re thinking about applying to, which you can usually do by going to tours, walking around the school, listening to students and faculty about the school, and asking questions. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this aspect of the high school application process is being converted to online video meetings and video format, but you can still get the same amount out of a virtual tour with a little more effort.
We have learned as a student body through online classes that it is much harder to absorb information from Zoom meetings, so on the virtual Q&As and information sessions, you will want to take thorough notes to stay engaged and have details to look back on for when you’re making your high school list. Taking notes on what you like and may not like about the school will help define each one in your mind, and after looking at so many schools, especially of one type, you’ll need that help. It’s also beneficial for you to get the most out of Q&A sessions by coming to them with questions, and that means doing research on the school, looking around the website at the classes and clubs they offer. If the school also has student testimonies you can watch, be sure to do so; this can be a good way to get a feel of the student body.
360° tours are the virtual replacement for walking around a high school this year, and they can either be a collection of photos of around the school or a video production, complete with 360° visibility that allows you to click and drag around the screen to explore a classroom or a gym. It may sound tedious, but you also want to take a few notes on these, flipping through/watching once to absorb and the second time for note-taking, again because it helps define these schools for you, and this is crucial when you aren’t getting the full experience of being inside the school.
It is also helpful to supplement the resources these schools give you with research of your own. Websites like Niche and GreatSchools give you detailed overviews of every aspect of a school, and you can look in the comment sections to see some common questions and comments about the school. Also, try getting in contact with students of a school you really like and want to put high on your list, either through contacting the school or asking around your own community and ask them about their experience.
A virtual school tour does not have to be a negative thing. It can even be a less stressful experience than in-person tours. Try to enjoy what you do get from a school, make the most of the resources you get, and don’t panic if a school doesn’t offer a virtual tour (it is currently not required that they do); this is when the outside research comes in handy!
Halina de Jong-Lambert is a sophomore at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music, Art, and Performing Arts in New York City. She is an acting major at the school, enjoys Stephen King Novels, and is a fan of Oscar Wilde.
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Volunteering and extracurriculars are activities that can benefit both the community and yourself. For middle school students, volunteering and doing extracurriculars provide opportunities to develop new skills and interests and demonstrate to high schools that you are well-rounded and hardworking. High Schools are always looking for capable students willing to do more than what is required. So if you’re not doing extracurriculars and/or volunteering, getting the headstart and being a part of a club or helping out your community is the best way to demonstrate to schools that you are a hardworking and all-around person.
Public high school admissions decisions came out on March 9th, and families have until April 5th to accept an offer. Many high schools are now offering information sessions, open houses, and virtual events for accepted students. These events are the perfect opportunity to ask students and teachers detailed questions about the schools, so you can decide which one is the best fit for you. If you have trouble getting started thinking of questions to ask, asking these sample questions (divided by topic) can help you to consider a broad range of factors to decide on a school to attend!
The highschool admission process is very stressful. With all of its different required parts, the essay section of the application can be really overlooked. The essays are a chance for the admission officer’s to get an insight into who the applicant really is. Numerous people can have very similar transcripts, but a creative and charismatic essay will make an application stand out.
Recommendation letters are a key aspect of high school applications and are a great way to demonstrate your character and abilities from another perspective. While not mandatory in some schools, it’s highly encouraged and should be seen as a requirement. But, who do you ask for a recommendation letter? Choosing who to ask is very important and should be someone that has seen your growth as a student. Most schools usually require at least one recommendation letter from a core teacher (Math, Science, Social Studies, etc) and one letter from either another teacher, mentor, coach, or counselor. So after making a list of potential candidates take some time to consider a very important question. “Who knows you the most?”. If you choose a candidate that barely knows you, their letter may sound disingenuous and phony. So when selecting a recommender, you should consider someone who has had a significant impact on your life and should be someone who knows you both academically and personally and can attest to your abilities, interests, achievements, and growth.
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