Nearly a fifth of New York City students attend private schools, schools that are neither funded nor run at any government level. Unlike public schools, families are typically required to pay tuition, but many of these schools offer some degree of financial aid. Because private schools do not have to follow the rules and regulations set by the Department of Education, there is a diverse array of options to consider when looking for the right fit. Unlike with public schools, students are allowed to apply to as many private schools as they desire.
Independent Day Schools
Independent day schools are generally secular, meaning that they have no religious affiliation. The students at these schools do not live on campus (which is why they are called day schools). There are hundreds in the city, with different strengths and teaching philosophies. It is important to keep in mind that applications are made directly to the school. Each application can be different, unlike public schools, which typically have consistent applications within school types. For more information about public schools, check out our article here. Although the specifics of applications vary, there are some common components. Generally, independent school applications include test scores, essays, grades, teacher recommendations, interviews, and the ISEE or SSAT exams. The ISEE and SSAT are the private school equivalents to the specialized public schools’ SHSAT. However, a student can take these exams multiple times, and the score is not the sole factor in admissions. Students may choose to take either the ISEE or SSAT and should take full-length diagnostic exams of both before deciding which to invest time in preparation.
Boarding schools are institutions in which students may live (board) on campus. By staying on campus, students learn to take on more personal responsibility by taking care of themselves. Boarding schools are praised for fostering independence and college readiness and providing individual attention and rigorous academics. Some boarding schools may have religious affiliations, but many do not. Much like the applications for private schools, the criteria may vary but tends to include some common components: test scores, essays, grades, teacher recommendations, interviews, and the ISEE or SSAT exams.
Religious and Parochial Schools
These are high schools with a religious affiliation or affiliated with a parish/church (parochial). Besides the academic curriculum students would receive at secular institutions, religious and parochial schools offer a religion curriculum. The application criteria are similar to the other private schools, but these schools may ask for slightly different requirements. For example, most Catholic high schools require that students take the TACHS or HSPT exams rather than the ISEE or SSAT. Unlike the ISEE or SSAT, the TACHS and HSPT can only be taken once. Some Catholic schools accept ISEE or SSAT scores as a substitute, but not all do, so make sure to ask school administrators if you are unsure of specific test requirements. Additionally, some religious schools, such as Regis High School, one of the most well-known Catholic schools in the city, require that students prove that they are a member of the school’s affiliated religion or denomination.
The private school application process may seem daunting, but by taking the time to prepare, you are sure to find a school that fits your academic and personal needs. New York City is home to some of the top private schools in the nation, and with hard work, you may continue growing, learning, and challenging yourself at one of them.
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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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