Preparing for High School Applications During Dog Days of Summer

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The city wraps up its summer series of workshops on the high school admissions process this week. At Tuesday's event, held at Herbert Lehman High School in the Bronx, hundreds of families got a taste of the complicated process that underpins New York City's system of choosing among more than 700 high schools.


Students can apply to up to 12 high schools in order of preference. The process is slightly different for the specialized high schools and other screened or audition schools.

Many of the parents at Lehman said were surprised by the complexity of the admissions process. Victoria Laguda, the mother of rising eighth grader, felt the process was much tougher than she anticipated.

“I’m trying to get him into all these specialized programs. There’s so much competition out there so we want to start early,” she said. “I think the way the system is, slow and steady wins the race.”

Laguda’s son, Olabayo, 13, said he has his sights set on the Bronx High School of Science, because he loves science and wants to be a doctor. 

“When I get into the high school, it’s going to help me achieve what I want,” he said.

Damaris Del Toro-Pizarro said she was concerned by competition for seats at the top high schools.

“It’s somewhat intimidating. There's so many applicants and not enough spaces. That’s very troublesome for us,” Del Toro-Pizarro said.

In response to parents’ concerns, representatives from the Department of Education encouraged students to find schools that were the best fit for them. They also asked parents to consider distance and travel time to the schools they list as their top choices.

While many of the students interviewed planned to apply to high schools in the Bronx, Raimora Allah, 13, said she wanted to attend Talent Unlimited High School on the Upper East Side despite the nearly 40 minute commute from her Highbridge neighborhood.

“I want to go to Talent Unlimited,” Allah said confidently, as her father nodded in agreement with her choice.  “The audition is going to be hard, but I’m just going to stay focused and not stress about it. You only get one chance,” she said.


The following students share their thoughts in the audio above: Brianna Alyce Williams, Caira Santos, Faith Santiago, Raimora Allah and Olabayo Laguda.