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New York City's Public High Schools: Admissions More Competitive Than Colleges?

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 25, 2019 21:00

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The elite college admissions fraud scandal is a major topic right now. But would you believe that applying to NYC public high schools is also extremely competitive?

The elite college admissions scandal, involving wealthy parents (including celebrities), college staff and companies that facilitate fraud revolving around the admissions process, is a huge topic of discussion right now. The high profile people caught up in this shameful situation are being talked about by nearly every American. Many issues are wrapped into this including competition, ethics, and the value of a college education.

In New York City (and even beyond the Five Boroughs) many people are talking about the most recent Department of Education public high school acceptances. Much of the attention is laser-focused on the dismal diversity of the incoming student class at Stuyvesant High School, long considered one of the top academic institutions. Eight top-rated schools, including "Stuy", the Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High and five other schools, all use the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT).

For the past few years, and especially this year, schools using this test and particularly Stuyvesant High have been criticized for admitting too few students who are African-American or Latino. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, as well as many families are angered by this and want to change the way eighth (and even some ninth) graders are admitted to these elite schools, so that they better reflect the diverse population of the city and it's pool of students. But other families, as well as many educators and interested parties, do not want the test scrapped nor the admissions process changed lest it be "watered down."

So many people are obsessed with elite schools, or schools that are perceived of as top notch. Families worry that if their children are not studying in the finest high schools and colleges, they will be relegated to mediocre educations and mediocre outcomes. The media feeds into this frenzy, hyping particular schools, touting their features, and warning of missed chances at a leg up on life as a whole, if students don't get the finest or near-finest educations. 

But sane people know that there are many other worthy colleges out there. And sane New Yorkers know there are many other worthy high schools in the Big Apple. In fact, the Department of Education in NYC released the list of the Top 20 schools for number of applications, and by examining this data, you can see intense competition elsewhere.

In NYC students don't necessarily attend their local schools; they can apply to schools throughout the city. Two local comprehensive schools, Francis Lewis in Queens and Midwood in Brooklyn, each received over 14,000 applications. Francis Lewis offered acceptance to 6.4% of applicants. And two smaller schools in Manhattan were even more selective: Millennium accepted 3.7% of its applicants and Baruch College Campus High accepted just 2.8% of its applicants! Even Harvard accepted 4.59% of its applicants for the class of 2022.

Competition is rampant in so many sectors of life in the United States, and NYC is at the forefront of the crazed race. 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 25, 2019 21:00

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Source: NYT
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