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Reporting from the Trenches: NYC Public High School Admissions Results 2020-2021

Reporting from the Trenches: NYC Public High School Admissions Results 2020-2021

Katie Miller
Katie Miller
Test Prep
High School Admissions

NYC High School Admission Results Overview

The admissions results for rising 9th graders in the NYC public school system were (finally!) released and the results are all over the map. As in past years, many families received multiple offers, and are now happily choosing among them. However, for a significant number of families, the news has not been so rosy.

Many families received an offer from one of their lowest choices (11th or 12th) or received NO offers and were assigned to a school. Unfavorable admissions outcomes are challenging for both parents and children alike, especially coming out of a very hard pandemic year. They can cause anxiety, self-esteem issues, and unnecessary stress.

While there is no way to guarantee a positive admissions outcome, there are takeaways from this year’s process that will help families put their child(ren) in the best admissions position possible!

Child Holding Backpack by legs.

2020 / 2021 NYC High School Admissions TOP Observations

This year, the SHSAT cut-off scores went down across the board, but we should not expect those same low cut-offs for next year. For MANY reasons, this was a strange year, and the cut-offs from spring 2020 will be a more reliable indicator of what to anticipate for this coming year.

The relief from families that were accepted into SHSAT-based schools was tangible! Even if it was not a top choice, it allowed families to breathe a bit easier about what next year will look like for their child.

Changes to the admissions process introduced more chances into the mix than in past years. In addition, increased diversity set-asides and the expansion of school availability (no more district priority schools (and, as of this upcoming year, no more borough priority schools!)) -- both important developments -- mean less predictable outcomes based on past years’ data.

NYC High School Admissions Tips for Success

  • DO seriously consider applying to the Specialized Schools and ensure your child is preparing rigorously for the SHSAT. SHSAT Prep usually starts in May / June of 7th grade. Ivy Tutors Network offers popular semi-private classes and individualized SHSAT tutoring. Both paths start with the all-important diagnostic exam, which not only gives you a baseline score, but also important information about the student’s current strengths and improvement areas.
  • DO include the two lowest cut-off schools in your specialized school application – Brooklyn Tech and Brooklyn Latin. They are both terrific schools, and even if they don’t seem like the perfect fit for your child, they may well be better than your general education offer.
  • DO apply to LaGuardia if your child is interested in the visual or performing arts. There is no harm to it, and it will give your child another potential offer which they can then accept or decline.
  • DO cast a wide net for the general education schools. So much is still unknown, but there is a general trend away from iterative screening and this part of the process is going to be much less predictable than in past years.
  • DO consider private schools, Catholic / Jesuit schools, and/or Charter Schools when crafting your list of schools (if this is an option for your family).
  • DO pay attention to fit when researching schools! Your school list should not necessarily look like your friends’ school lists.
  • DO ask smart questions at the school open houses! You are interviewing these schools as well, and you need to make sure their priorities match your own.
High School Student Holding books.

NYC High School Admissions Common Mistakes

  • DON’T wait until the fall to craft an initial school list. The fall gets very busy and you will want a smart, tailored list to work from.
  • DON’T rank schools until you absolutely have to. And even when you do finally rank them for the application, think of them internally in 3 tiers of 4. The top 4 should be equally good fits, and so on. This takes the pressure off the “first choice” school.
  • DON’T include a school on your list that you would not send your child to.
  • DON’T include only the most competitive schools in your child’s list. Include schools that have different admissions metrics and that have fewer applicants per seat.

IN SUMMARY, keep an open mind and cast a wide net. And start early! Learning NOW about schools you may not have thought to explore, honing in on schools that are good fits for your child as opposed to just strong in reputation, and having the confidence that your school list is balanced and thoughtfully constructed, will give you peace of mind and put you in a great position for the fall.

Written by Katie Miller, Admissions Consultant


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