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High School Guide

Explore the Top 10 Lists (above) for ideas on finding schools and programs that may interest your student.

If you are completely new to the high school process, please read the guide below.

Section 1: Basics

Applying to high schools
There are three ways to apply to high schools. You may choose more than one of these ways during the high school application process.

  1. High school application: Students submit up to 12 different programs which they are interested in, ranked in order of preference.
  2. SHSAT school application: Students must take the SHSAT test and submit their list of specialized schools, ranked in order of preference.
  3. LaGuardia high school application: Students can apply to a maximum of six programs offered at LaGuardia High School.
It is therefore possible to receive multiple offers if a student applies to high school using all three methods (e.g. multiple offers from LaGuardia, one offer from a SHSAT school and one offer from a regular high school).

Schools and Programs
There are over 400 public high schools in NYC that offer over 700 different programs. When compiling your list for the common high school application, your student will be applying to a specific program at a school. This means that it is possible to have multiple applications to a single high school. Every school offers a liberal arts education program, but can also offer additional programs that fall into one or more of the following interest areas:

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Section 2: Admissions

There are a certain amount of available seats for every program. How those seats are filled is determined by the program’s admissions method. The different admissions methods are as follows:

In addition to the admissions methods listed above, some schools will give priority to students in certain geographic areas or continuing students (e.g. a 6-12 grade school). Priorities will be indicated on every school and program page on NYC-SIFT.

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Section 3: Special Considerations

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Section 4: Choosing a Program

Find out as much information about programs and schools as possible! Attend open houses when they are announced in the fall. The DOE also collects data from every school in the form of academic statistics and surveys. All of these surveys and statistics are easily accessible directly on every school or program page on NYC-SIFT.

When deciding which programs to list on your application, also consider your student’s designations such as lottery number, screened group, or lunch status because those may affect their chances of receiving an offer from that program. By using the "My info" feature, NYC-SIFT can calculate your student’s chances of receiving an offer based on the previous year’s applicant pool.

The high school application deadline is usually in early December and high school offers are released in March of the following year.

Click for an explanation by the DOE on how students get offers.

Students can also receive an offer from the waitlist process. Students are automatically waitlisted at higher-ranked programs that did not send them an offer in March. Students on waitlists will be given a new lottery number for each waitlist they are on. For example, if a student is given an offer from their 5th ranked school in March, they will be automatically placed on each waitlist for the schools they ranked 1 through 4. They may receive an offer from one of those schools before the school year begins in September.

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Section 5: Next Steps

Make sure you mark your favorites in event calendar and check if they have open houses on the event calendar. Many schools announce their open house schedule in October.

Use other online resources to supplement your search!

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