Applying to High School

by Crystal Balvuena, 13

SBU 8th graders discussing high school options

I am an eighth grade honors student at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School. I am 13 years old and I am a member of South Bronx United’s U 14 Girls Travel Team. I like to achieve the impossible.  This year, I was introduced to the process of applying for public high schools in New York City.

Applying to high school is the starting point in our careers. Decisions need to be made thoroughly and carefully. The next four years of our lives are extremely important for getting prepared for college and learning to overcome obstacles in order to be able to succeed in our lives, careers, and beyond.

Eighth grade is the last part of the journey in middle school. Eighth grades get their high school application and the high school guide book that contains all high schools in NYC. It gives a brief description and information about the school. However, do not believe everything that the book says. Remember that schools only talk about the great things in their school and never the bad things. Schools will write anything down to attract students.

It is recommended that you make an appointment to visit the school or attend an open house. The majority of schools have open houses. You can also visit the school’s website to learn more about the school and see if it fits you. You are going to spend the next four years in a school preparing you for college, and you want to feel good in the environment and have the best preparatory experiences.

To choose what the best is for YOU and not your parents or your cousins, you will need to look at three important factors: transportation, the programs and extracurricular activities, and the way the school works. You do not want to end up in a school that is too difficult or easy for you and you want to enjoy your experience throughout high school to become successful. If you want to apply to any of the nine specialized high schools, you need to talk to school’s counselor and ask him or her for a ticket to take the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). The test is not facile and the competition is fierce. Hundreds of kids prepare for the test months earlier. So don’t get so disappointed for not getting accepted. There are many other schools that will help you prepare.

The process for choosing a school was difficult. I want a school that would have many sports, (especially soccer) and several extracurricular activities because I like trying new things. I would like a school that offers an environment with teachers that care for their students and students that also want to succeeded and challenge themselves as learners. I applied for a few specialized high school such as Bronx High School of Science and High School for American Studies at Lehman College. I also chose Beacon High School (not specialized high school) as my first choice.

Going through the process of applying to high schools is not facile and can be very stressful when your family and teachers are expecting the best from you. However your hard work, ambition and determination always pays off and you’ll end up in a school that is fit for you and have great learning experiences.

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