Making the Switch: My Private to Public School Transition; the SHSAT Journey

 

I had been in a private school setting all my life. Since the age of 5 I was situated at a K-12 manhattan private school where the teachers were called by their first names, where creative writing was a department by itself, and where classes were as small as 8 students to a teacher. I hadn’t considered — or even thought about — any kind of schooling other than the education I had received for nine years. But soon the benign elementary years fell to the more vicious middle school era, and after a few years in an environment where I felt increasingly isolated, I decided to look for other education options.

There was one big name that stuck out to me: Stuyvesant High SchoolA seemingly glittering model of a school that two family members had attended, Stuy seemed like a dream escape from my school situation. But to get there I had to make my way through the SHSAT, my first taste of testing that didn’t care about who you were or what your story was. Ultimately the months of test prep I underwent landed me at Stuy’s equally illustrious twin, the Bronx High School of Science: my initially overlooked second choice school.

Ten minutes on my first day was enough to tell Bronx Science was not going to be the loving, parental education that I was used to. The crowded throngs of kids all chattering and laughing pushed me around from class to class (those I could find anyway), the teachers neither knew nor frankly cared what my name was, and the amount of unfamiliar faces far outstripped the few I knew. I realized I had just willingly walked into the lions den, and I smelled like steak.

3 years later, Bronx Science doesn’t have the ability to put the fear of God in me anymore. Its size, impersonality, and brusqueness only served to make me a more independent student and person on the whole. Though I missed out on the attention and care that comes hand-in-hand with a private school experience, my public school education has arguably been the best 3 years of my life as a student, and while at first I thought I was about to be dinner for a 2,000-headed, bronx-dwelling monster, making the switch to my particular public school was the equivalent of putting the ringmaster’s whip in my hands.