7th grade is a formative year as a student, but also as an applicant to high schools. This is the most important year for your grades, as high schools will only see part of your 8th grade transcript and they are more lenient in judging your 6th grade transcript. But it is also a time for you to start exploring what you want out of a high school, so that you go into 8th grade with a good idea of the types of schools you want to apply to and with time to prepare for any admissions exams.
First of all, do not be discouraged from looking at top high schools that are difficult to get into if your 6th grade transcript is poor. As long as your grades trend upwards and are strong in 7th grade, high schools understand that the transition to middle school can be difficult and will weigh where your grades have ended up more strongly than where they started. But your 7th grade transcript is crucial: you want to show high schools that you are able to meet and exceed middle school academic standards and are well prepared to meet high school standards. If you feel that you are falling behind in a class, ask your teachers for help, and consult our articles on studying for tests and staying on top of your work.
A main focus of this year for you should be exploring the many different pathways of high school in New York City. If you feel drawn to stem, start looking at schools that specialize in math and science; this could include schools like Columbia Secondary School for Math Science and Engineering or Bronx Science. If you feel that your transcript is not reflective of your true academic ability, then look into SHSAT schools and the components of the SHSAT test: SHSAT schools only look at your score on the SHSAT exam as a determiner of your academic ability, not your grades. If you have a passion for the arts, consider the performing arts high schools like Frank Sinatra School of the Arts or LaGuardia High School of Music Art and Performing Arts. For schools like these, you should also start thinking about audition material in 7th grade, so you are prepared for the 8th grade audition process to these schools.
If you are undecided, don’t worry! There are plenty of amazing schools in New York City with no specializations. For these schools, look a bit more into the types of classes and clubs they offer to see what could be the best fit for you.
7th grade can seem like a stressful year, and it certainly can be, but it is also a year to enjoy. Exploring what your future could look like is an exciting thing, and you will do best in this year if you take it as such.
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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