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How to Get into Beacon High School

How to Get into Beacon High School

Founded in 1993, Beacon is a small, alternative high school that has since grown to become one of the most highly regarded public schools in the city. However, it is also increasingly competitive to get into. In this article, we'll tell you why Beacon is great and what you need to do to maximize you chances of admission.

Lisa Speransky
Lisa Speransky
High School Admissions

Cover photo by Wikiedior129293

What is Beacon High School?

Beacon High School was established in 1993 as a small, alternative high school, and has since grown to become one of the most highly regarded public high schools in New York city. What makes Beacon different from other public high schools is that it's a PBA school (Performance Based Assessment) and uses a more holistic assessment of learning in lieu of standardized exams – including a senior presentation that must be defended in front of a panel of teachers. The school has a diverse student body and a strong emphasis on academic rigor and critical thinking.

At Ivy Tutors Network, we’re big fans of The Beacon School; several tutors are proud teachers or graduates and our Managing Director is a graduate of the school herself!

Where is Beacon High School?

Beacon High School is housed in a shiny, new building in the Hell's Kitchen area of Manhattan: 522 W 44th St.

Where is Beacon High School?

Photo by Wikiedior129293

Is Beacon a good high school?

Yes, Beacon is a great school! Beacon High School is known for its excellent academic programs, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses and unique electives like, "Food Writing" or "Native American Literature." In addition to its academic programs, Beacon High School has a strong focus on community involvement and social justice issues. Students are encouraged to participate in community service projects and to engage with local organizations working on issues such as homelessness, environmental justice, and LGBTQ+ rights.

What is Beacon ranked in NYC?

Beacon has received numerous accolades over the years. It was ranked as the #1 public high school in New York City by US News & World Report in 2020.

What kind of school is Beacon?

Beacon is one of the 38 Consortium Schools in NYC (one of the 16 in Manhattan). The Consortium Schools in New York City are a group of public high schools that share a common educational philosophy and collaborative approach to learning. The Consortium was founded in 1968 as an alternative to traditional high school education, with a focus on experiential learning, interdisciplinary studies, and community involvement. Notably, students are assessed based on a portfolio of work and do not have to pass any Regents exams for graduation, except for the English Regents.

The Consortium Schools share a commitment to collaborative learning, community involvement, and personalized education. They offer a variety of innovative programs and approaches to learning, including internships, service learning, and project-based learning. The schools have a strong record of academic success and are known for providing a challenging and supportive educational environment for their students.

What is the acceptance rate for Beacon High School NYC?

For the purpose of this article, we’re using Beacon as an example of a school that many people want to go to, but that has become increasingly difficult to get into due to the new public high school application process. So many students put Beacon as their #1 choice (in the list of 12 schools students submit in 8th grade) that the school now has an admissions rate of only 3%, even though the school has almost 900 students (over 200 per grade). That makes Beacon more difficult to get into than Yale University!

What is the acceptance rate for Beacon High School NYC?

How do I get into Beacon High School NYC?

Among NYC public high school, Beacon falls into the category of “screened schools.” There are 2 screening criteria listed: 80% essay + 20% grades. But in truth, there are actually 5. Not every student with 100% on the essay and Group 1 grades can get into the school. Otherwise, there would be thousands of students in each 9th grade class.

A student’s “random number” or lottery number does also carry some weight. Since that number is by definition “random”, a bit of luck is needed. We will consider your lottery number to be the 3rd criteria.

The 4th criteria is whether or not a student qualifies for free of reduced priced lunch. As of 2023, Beacon allocated 66% of open seats to the Diversity in Admissions carve-out, which makes it more difficult for those who do not fall into this bucket to get in.

The 5th criteria is SWD (Students with Disabilities). There are also seats allocated to this group at The Beacon School, as there are at all public high schools in NYC.

Do you need to write an essay for Beacon High School?

As Beacon’s MySchools page states, 80% of the admissions criteria is the essay. The good news is that applicants can use the same consortium essay for 5 consortium schools (East Side Community School, Institute for Collaborative Education, School of the Future High School, Beacon High School, and University Heights Secondary School). The rubric for how the essay is graded is publicly available and we encourage students to make sure they think their essays will get 100% on all the parts of the rubric!

The essay should represent your child's best work (no typos please!) and is a terrific opportunity to show Beacon a little more about who your child is as a student and a person.

Here are the 2 questions you can answer in your 500-word essay:

  1. How do you think a school with this approach to learning will help you grow academically, personally, and creatively? What do you think you have to offer a school community like this?
  2. We admire students who are flexible in their approach to learning and willing to take intellectual risks that move them out of their comfort zone. Reflect on a time when you were intellectually challenged, inspired, or took an intellectual risk––inside or outside the classroom. How has that experience shaped you?

We hope this article give you a good sense of what's required to get into Beacon High School. Although there are no guarantees, it's absolutley worth the effort to apply! If you need guidance, don't hesitate to reach out to us here at Ivy Tutors Network. We provide academic support, test preparation, essay coaching, and offer a monthly Public School Admissions Office Hours for all current clients.


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