Happy Labor Day my fractured friends!!
I can’t believe the summer is almost over, I feel like it just started a few days ago, this has easily been the busiest summer in the last decade of my life. I have a few posts lined up for you about my crazy busy summer but today’s post will be all about the middle school application process in NYC and helpful tips about the process I wish I knew while applying. So many of you have fourth and fifth graders and have inquired about the middle school application process, since school is just a few days away I thought I would begin with this post.
For a decade I lived in New Jersey where school assignments are based on township residency and zip codes/zones rather than academic performance and performance in the new common core standardized exams. When I moved back to NYC a few years ago, I didn’t realize the middle school application process would be so extensive and lengthy and at times, nerve wrecking! I hope this round-up of tips helps my fellow middle school moms better navigate the process.
- Begin as early as possible with schools visits and school research.
The time to begin preparing for the middle school application process is the spring semester of fourth grade. That is of course, once the common core exams are over… because the fourth grade common core exam results are THE determining factors (along with attendance and GPA) to qualify to apply to test-only schools (schools that require a test for admission). Select schools ONLY admit students who have visited the schools, so visiting your desired schools is important. Also, tours are not offered year round they only happen a certain number of times a year. Beginning your research in the spring of the fourth grade ensures you have plenty of time to schedule school tours and visits in the fall of the fifth grade.
- Know the factors that determine admission for your desired schools.
After the common core exam results, the fourth marking period grades and attendance become the most important factors. Test-only schools look at grades in the 90’s or mostly 4’s and some 3’s sprinkled in; In terms of attendance, the admissions committee look for NO MORE than 12 absences for the academic year (no impromptu vacations or bonus days off in fourth grade). Excused absences are counted in that number and if for one reason or the other your child has exceeded 10 absences a note should be sent to the school explaining the circumstances. Please make copies of the the last 4th grade report card, you will need to send it in with every application and independent schools have varying application deadlines. Your school will provide a copy if you don’t have one but it may not be before some of the very early fall deadlines.
- Create a short list of desired schools and start your research on http://www.insideschools.com.
Insideschools.com was my go to resource for an unbiased/independent perspective of the school environment, administration and program offerings. This site also links to the school site. My advice to all parents is to spend some time on this site before applying to any school in NYC. This site shares the qualities the schools look for in its candidates, how it likes to be ranked on student applications and how this school compares to others of similar stature.
- Rank Wisely
Lastly, its important to only list schools on the application that your child would happily attend, despite how you ranked them. The NYC Middle School application allows you to rank up to 10 schools, however, that also means they can place you in any one of those schools you selected. Additionally, certain schools only accept students who rank them as their top choices (typically ranks 1-3). Be thoughtful about the schools that are ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
My son ended up applying to 5 schools, all of which were test only schools, he got into to his 2nd choice and we advanced to second rounds for the other schools. The multiples rounds were an eye opening experience for me, he is now a rising seventh grader and we are preparing for the high school application process. More to come on the transition to middle school and that 6th grade experience, but for now, wishing all my middle school applying mommies the best of luck!