This article was originally posted on New York School Talk.
New York City public high schools are constantly changing their admission procedures. For instance, Beacon High School, which used to have an interview, doesn’t anymore. Frank McCourt High School got rid of their group activity that they used to sort students. School of the Future stopped asking for portfolios this year. These schools are putting more weight on grades, test scores, and attendance. I hope that’s an admissions approach that doesn’t truly reflect what a school is and what they are looking for in a student.
When you’re interviewing for a programming job, you’re asked to write code. When you audition for a dance company or show, you have to learn and perform a combination. But when you want to apply to a good school, you just show them your grades and test scores from your current school?
Something clearly isn’t right. Software companies want programmers who can program quickly and effectively, so they ask applicants to demonstrate that capability to decide whether to hire them. When auditioning as a dancer, whoever is judging is looking for three things: how quickly the dancer picks up the combination, how well they perform it, and their attitude (so as not to hire someone with whom it is unpleasant to work), all factors that are critical to one’s success in that career. When you apply to a school, they simply look at transcripts and test scores. These qualities only demonstrate that a student performed well in the setting where they were being graded.
This methodology indicates that all a school wants are students who perform well. They don’t care how terrible any of their past teachers were, how much tutoring they needed, or how much the student already knew about a subject before taking a class. They don’t care if a student is studious and a hard worker, if they’re disruptive in class, or if they are easy to teach. They only care that their students will perform well, so that the school looks good.
In an audition or interview, you have to directly demonstrate the skills that are needed from you. In a school environment, you might think that the necessary skills would be the ability to learn quickly, cooperate with other students, and use one’s knowledge effectively, but schools don’t search for students with these qualities. Why? Because if they did, they would be forced to do more work to become more effective schools.
That isn’t how schools should work. Schools should try to teach students as much as possible, not simply find students who are already doing well and put them in a room together. The fact that this is how schools operate shows that they understand they add very little value for students. A good school makes low-performing students perform well. If a school makes well-performing students perform well, is it really adding any value?
A better way for schools to determine which students they can serve best would be to put them in the kind of environment they would experience at that school and see how they fare. They could be given a lesson on a subject none of them have prior experience with, and then tested. (If that is similar to how the school operates). Or, they could be given small group projects to work on and scored on cooperation as well as the quality of the project, if the school prefers students who thrive in that type of environment.
When I was interviewed at Columbia Secondary School, I was asked to come up with, in a few minutes, as many ways as possible to move a large boulder off a road. Then, I was asked which method I thought was best and why. This would give me the impression that Columbia Secondary is a school where quick creativity and logical selection of ideas is critical. Maybe that is the case, maybe it isn’t, but the questions schools ask should be related to what they want to select for in students.
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For this Thanksgiving, we at NYC Mentors.org decided to focus on what we are grateful for in our lives and school environments, looking on the bright side of the chaotic world we live in today. It is easy to forget our blessings in life and focus on the bad things, especially when our life has become increasingly difficult during this pandemic. However, the success that has come out of our school systems during these unprecedented times is something to be grateful for.
With a disastrous year disrupted by a pandemic, finding and picking the right high schools in the largest city in the United States can be a difficult and daunting task. However, with enough dedication, you can still find ideal schools that would be a good fit for you and your family. Here are some tips to help you pick the right schools that will ensure that you have an excellent education for your four years of high school.
One of the most important life skills for a student to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom is time management. Though it is tempting to see it as a skill that can be developed later, a student should try to build up their time management skill as soon as possible to develop good habits for the years to come. In a time when learning is online and the separation between work and free-time blends together, now is especially a great time to build up the skill of time management. With these few easy steps, you can develop this skill and be ready for any new challenges and distractions that will encounter.
When I was going into eighth grade, high school admissions immediately entered my mind. I was very nervous about where I would end up going to high school, especially because I had the decision to move to a new state for high school or stay in Colorado. Growing up in suburban Denver, Colorado, my mother received a pharmaceutical job offer to move to New York City, and I wanted to go with her.
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