_By Hannah Miller, Breakthrough New York_
High schools in New York are as diverse as the city itself. So how do you whittle the directory of 400 schools down to 12? Here are a few tricks to help you get started:
Academic Programs and Extracurriculars:No one school is going to offer every single thing a student is interested in, but some may come close! Use Noodles filters to find the schools with the programs, clubs and sports that most interest you.
In the example above, Im searching for a public school with a computer science program that is seven miles or less from the zip code 10005. If I wanted to filter it down even further, I could add another filter to find a school that suits my interests: math club and a badminton team.
Location, Location, Location: Consider your commute. It is hard to stay after school to talk with teachers, attend club meetings, or participate in sports when you face a monster trip home each night. Students should make sure their time spent on the train or bus isnt getting in the way of extracurricular activities a high school has to offer. What is the point of finding an academically challenging school with a chess team if you have to miss chess tournaments in order to make a long commute home to crank out two hours of homework? Plug in your zip code and slide the dial on Noodles search function to reflect a distance close to you. Start with ten miles, see how many results you get, and adjust from there.
Share Your List & Get Feedback: Once you come across a school that meets many of your search criteria, save it to your Board! The Board function enables students to compare the schools they are interested in, share them with family, friends, and advisors, and get feedback. On the high school application, students will rank their school choices in order of preference. Use this feature to create a long preliminary list of schools to consider. Write notes, mark favorites, and keep tabs on every school matching your interests.
A Closer Look: Once you have a good list, its time to do a deep dive. What is the size of the school? Does the curriculum spark interest? Pay extra attention to the four-year graduation rate, which is the first stat in the Academics section of the noodle profile. Schools that are preparing students to enter college are graduating the majority of their students in 4 years. Students who are interested in a career field which requires a college degree or higher will need to make sure the high schools on their list offer challenging academics and college guidance. Look for schools that offer more than four Advanced Placement courses, the College Now program or the International Baccalaureate. Also take a good look at each high schools post-secondary enrollment rate to ensure the schools being considered are preparing graduates for a successful college career.
Open Houses: Remember that while reading about schools is a great starting point, nothing can come close to experiencing the school in person and meeting students, teachers and administrators. There are many aspects of a school that cannot be captured on paper. Only by visiting can students get a sense of the community and atmosphere of a school. Make time to at least visit your top choices!
Not every school requires students to visit an open house, but beware, some schools will give an admissions assessment or host an interview during the open house. Not only is it important to visit schools to get a sense of the atmosphere and school culture, its quite possibly an important part of gaining admission.