2021 New York Independent Schools Back-to-School Guide

Independent Schools are private schools each having an ‘independent’ philosophy and unique mission that are managed by a board of governors or trustees. They can be co-ed or single-sex, day schools or boarding schools, religious or not religiously affiliated.

Each school has it’s own COVID-19 safety and vaccination policy so be sure to check what your specific schools policy is.

Many New York independent schools are members of The Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY), a not-for-profit organization whose members agree to adhere to it’s admissions practices and procedures.

Not all independent schools are ISAAGNY members so be sure to check each school’s affiliation when applying. Applying to an independent school is a multi-step process that involves completing written or online applications, screening tests, school tours, parent and/or child meetings/interviews and financial documentation (if requesting financial assistance). For safety reasons, most schools have instituted a virtual application process during the pandemic.

Refer to the ISAAGNY website for their Principles of Good Practice that all member schools abide by and notification and reply dates of applications for 2022/2023 school year.

Let’s Talk School is hosting our 11th Annual Virtual Independent School Kindergarten Admissions Panel and School Fair on Monday & Tuesday, August 30-31. You’ll be able to meet and engage directly with school admission directors who’ll provide information about their schools and this fall’s application process.

To learn about boarding schools, consult The Association of Boarding Schools.

2021 New York Catholic School Back-to-School Guide

New York Catholic schools are all privately managed by the Archdiocese of New York (ADNY), the Diocese of Brooklyn or the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The Diocese of Brooklyn oversees Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens, The Diocese of Rockville Center oversees Long Island schools, and the New York Archdiocese oversees Catholic schools in the rest of New York and surrounding regions.  

Read the ADNY schools reopening plans for this fall and the Brooklyn Diocese COVID-19 safety protocols.    

Registration for the 2021 Test for Admission into Catholic High Schools (TACHS) for 2022 is now open. Students in the eighth grade during the 2021-2022 school year who wish to apply for fall 2022 admission into Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of New York, Brooklyn/Queens and Rockville Centre are eligible. This year, the TACHS exam will be administered as an online, remote, at-home test.

2021 Private School Kindergarten Admissions Panel and School Fair

After a tumultuous 2020 school year, we are looking forward to our kids going back to in-person school this fall. However, the COVID-19 delta variant is making that prospect more uncertain. Families are worried about the safety of their children in school buildings, about their students' mental health and what changes are being made to procedures at schools that will keep children learning throughout the year.

For over a decade, at the end of summer, we have gathered a diverse group of independent schools to talk about their plans and admissions process for the coming year. This enables families to get a head start on their applications. Kindergarten is the largest entry point for private schools and one of only two times students can gain admission to Hunter. 

This year, we’ll be hosting a virtual version of our kindergarten admissions panel and school fair on Monday & Tuesday, August 30-31. The schools below will be participating, with new schools signing up each day. The fair is free for families to attend. Register today!

New York Public Schools 2021 Back to School Guide

Let's talk back-to-school! The following is a summary of important updates pertaining to NYC public schools for the upcoming school year. For all official information related to NYC public schools please consult the Department of Education’s website

This past May, at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, Mayor DeBlasio and Chancellor Porter announced that, after a school year where more than 60% of NYC students learned remotely, schools would return to in-person learning for all students in September with no remote option.

The Mayor’s announcement was short on details of how the transition back to full-time, in-person learning will happen but he soon announced a new program, Summer Rising, for all kids (K-12) who want to participate. Summer Rising aims to help remediate some of the learning loss that happened throughout the school year and to prepare students for their return to in-school learning in the fall.

3-K results for children born in 2018 were released in June. All offers, including waitlists offers, need to be accepted by July 30th. Learn about 3-K admissions and sign up for a summer information session here.

Families with children born in 2016, 2017, and 2018 who need a 3-K, Pre-K or kindergarten program are invited to join virtual information sessions happening throughout the summer to learn about applicable programs.

Read Chancellor Porter’s letter to families about the academic recovery plan NYC public schools.

Despite changes to CDC mask guidelines, NYC is sticking to a universal mask mandate in all schools.

When schools reopen in September, NYC public school teachers will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly.

The deadline to register for the summer SHSAT and LaGuardia High School audition is August 6th. This year’s test is open to both newcomers to the the city and to rising 9th and 10th-graders who were unable to take the exam and/or audition during the school year because of COVID-19. See Inside School’s SHSAT guide for full details.

Hunter College High School will send admission decisions for this year's entering 7th grade class starting Friday, July 30th and throughout the following week.

NYC mandates COVID vaccines for "high risk" sports. Vaccinations will be required for high school athletes and their coaches in football, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, wrestling, competitive cheerleading, and rugby. Vaccination will also be required for bowling, since it takes place indoors.

NYC will require the COVID-19 vaccine for all DOE employees with no testing option.

School officials announced a COVID safety plan for NYC Schools detailing protocols for testing, quarantining, masking, and vaccines.

Our 2020 Independent School Fair is Virtual

Let’s Talk Schools is celebrating ten years of presenting a NYC independent private school fair and panel discussion on the admissions process – a unique opportunity to meet admission decision-makers from top New York schools.

Every one of us is experiencing the stress of the coronavirus pandemic and, with schools set to reopen across the USA, we are about to enter a new phase of uncertainty of how this will affect the spread of the virus. For families considering independent schools that set their own missions and curriculum, kindergarten is the largest entry point and one of only two times that kids can enter the Hunter School, the other being 7th grade.

Applying to independent schools is complicated by lots of choices and a multi-step process completed a year in advance of when your child will attend. This year, the process of applying for the 2021/2022 school year will be all virtual.

We’re here to help!

Our program is going virtual too and it’s free of charge for families to attend.

Join us to learn about:

  • Kindergarten, middle and high school applications for 2021/2022 and possible openings for September 2020;
  • What to look for on virtual tours and what to expect;
  • Accessing financial aid;
  • How admission decisions are made – some schools have created their own individual process while others are using a new online standardized test for kindergarten;
  • A workshop on admission tests! - Join this dynamic workshop to learn about the admission tests used for middle and high schools (SHSAT, SSAT, ISEE). Test prep expert, Akil Bello, will discuss what’s on the test and how to maximize your performance.

And as always, we’re offering “words of wisdom” from the decision makers. Our panel of admission professionals will discuss navigating the process, including when to start, what to look for and what to expect.

This is a virtual event but capacity is limited so please register early. Individual school fair presentations are August 24-25 from 10am-6pm each day.  The admission panel is August 24, 6:30pm and testing workshop is Tuesday, August 25 @ 6:00pm. Please register in advance for the sessions you’d like to attend and your unique access codes will be sent prior to the event.

9th Annual Independent School Fair and Admissions Panel Discussion

A unique opportunity to meet directors from top New York schools. Reserve your spot now!

Summer is drawing to a close so it's time to think about school admissions for the 2020 school year. In New York City, school choice programs provide alternatives to parents who want to opt out of sending their children to the local  schools to which they are assigned. The day after Labor day is the traditional start to admission season, that time of year when parents exercise their school choice rights in a chaotic ritual of applications, school tours, open houses and interviews.

For families considering independent schools (those that independently set their own missions and curriculum), kindergarten is the largest entry point and one of only two times that kids can enter Hunter College Elementary School, the other being 7th grade.  If you have a four year old (born in 2015), this fall is the time to apply for kindergarten. For those entering 6th grade in the fall, this is the ONLY year you'll be eligible to take the test for entrance to Hunter High School.

The independent school application process is complicated. Before getting started with an application to any individual school there are many factors to consider - school type (co-ed, single sex), location, size, educational philosophy, community, faculty, facilities - to name a few. There is also the multi-step application process which involves tours, financial forms (if requesting tuition assistance), testing and meetings for both parents and children.

Summer is a great time to review and research school websites to determine what may be a good fit for your family. The Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY) is a terrific resource for learning about independent schools and their application process. On Monday, August 19, 2019 from 6-8:30 pm we'll be hosting our 9th Annual Independent School Fair and Admissions Panel. This is a unique opportunity to meet admission decision makers from Hunter and many private schools and to receive tools to help you conquer the application process.

Participating Schools:
Archdiocese of NY Catholic Schools Representing St. Ann School, St. Paul School, Corpus Christi School, Our Lady of Lourdes School, Ascension School
Blue School
Collegiate School
Garden School
Horace Mann School
Hunter College Campus Schools
International Academy of New York
Pine Street School
Riverdale Country School
Saint David's School
Speyer School
St. Bernard's School
St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's
The Allen-Stevenson School
The Brearley School
The Buckley School
The Calhoun School
The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine
The Chapin School
The Elisabeth Morrow School
The Nightingale-Bamford School
The Town School

Demystifying the SHSAT

The Specialized High School Admission Test (SHSAT) has been all over the news of late. What is this magical, mystical SHSAT test that evokes such strong emotions? Bring your questions and queries to PASSNYC's community information event on Monday, September 24 from 6-8 pm where there will be experts who can share information about the SHSAT and Columbia Secondary School testing for parents.

There will also be information on FREE Online Test Prep Services for students. Best of all, light refreshments will be served!

Please register and let us know if you'll be coming. This is an invaluable event that shouldn't be missed.

The 2019 Admissions Season Begins

A unique opportunity to meet directors from top New York schools. Reserve your spot now!

Summer is drawing to a close so it's time to think about school admissions for the 2019 school year. In New York City, school choice programs provide alternatives to parents who want to opt out of sending their children to the local  schools to which they are assigned. The day after Labor day is the traditional start to admission season, that time of year when parents exercise their school choice rights in a chaotic ritual of applications, school tours, open houses and interviews.

For families considering independent schools (those that independently set their own missions and curriculum), kindergarten is the largest entry point and one of only two times that kids can enter Hunter College Elementary School, the other being 7th grade.  If you have a four year old (born in 2014), this fall is the time to apply for kindergarten. For those entering 6th grade in the fall, this is the ONLY year you'll be eligible to take the test for entrance to Hunter High School.

The independent school application process is complicated. Before getting started with an application to any individual school there are many factors to consider - school type (co-ed, single sex), location, size, educational philosophy, community, faculty, facilities - to name a few. There is also the multi-step application process which involves tours, financial forms (if requesting tuition assistance), testing and meetings for both parents and children.

Summer is a great time to review and research school websites to determine what may be a good fit for your family. The Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY) is a terrific resource for learning about independent schools and their application process. On Tuesday, August 21, 2018 from 6-8:30 pm we'll be hosting our 8th Annual Independent School Admissions Panel and School Fair. This is a unique opportunity to meet admission decision makers from Hunter and many private schools and to receive tools to help you conquer the application process.

Participating Schools:
Bank Street School for Children
Collegiate School
Harlem Academy
Hunter College Campus Schools
International Academy of New York
Riverdale Country School
Convent of the Sacred Heart
Speyer School
St. Bernard's School
St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's
The Allen-Stevenson School
The Brearley School
The Buckley School
The Calhoun School
The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine
The Dalton School
The Hewitt School
The Nightingale-Bamford School
The Town School
The Workshop School

Getting started with 2018 Hunter & independent schools admissions

As the end of summer 2017 draws near it's time to think about school admission for the 2018 school year. In New York City, school choice programs provide alternatives to parents who do not wish to send their children to the local public schools to which they are assigned. The day after Labor day is the traditional start to admission season, the time of year when parents exercise their school choice rights in a chaotic ritual of applications, school tours, open houses and interviews.

For families considering independent schools (those that independently set their own missions and curriculum), kindergarten is the largest entry point and one of only two times that kids can enter Hunter College Elementary School. If you have a four year old (born in 2013) this fall is the time to apply for kindergarten.

The independent school application process is no walk in the park. Before even getting started with an application to any individual school there are many factors to consider - school type (co-ed, single sex), location, size, educational philosophy, community, faculty, facilities - to name a few. Then there's the multi-step application process which involves tours, financial forms (if requesting tuition assistance), testing and meetings for both parents and children.

Summer is a great time to review and research school websites to determine ones that might be a good fit for your family. The Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY) is a terrific resource for learning about independent schools and their application process. On Tuesday, August 29, 2017 from 6-8:30 pm we'll be hosting our 7th Annual Independent School Admission Panel and School Fair. This is a unique opportunity to meet admission decision makers from many schools and receive tools to help you conquer the application process.

Participating Schools include:
Bank Street School for Children
Basis Independent School
The Brearley School
The Browning School
The Buckley School
The Calhoun School
The Cathedral School
The Chapin School
Collegiate School
Convent of the Sacred Heart
Corlears School
The Hewitt School
Hunter College Elementary School
Marymount School
Metropolitan Montessori School
Riverdale Country School
Spence Schooll
St. Bernard's School
St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's
The Elisabeth Morrow School
The Nightingale-Bamford School
The Town School
Trevor Day School
Trinity School

Gearing up for the new school year? August is the new September.

We’re still in the dog days of summer and summer vacation is in full swing – kids are in camp, summer hours are in effect at the office and it’s hot -- real hot. If school starts after Labor Day there is still one month left of summer for the kids. So why am I seeing first day of school photos all over my social media accounts already? It seems like school starts in August ,or even July, in many parts of the country. Here in the northeast public school starts September 8th but most charter schools kids have either started school this week or will be headed back in the next week or so.

It's back to school time for some but not for others. When it comes to independent schools most, if not all, begin after Labor Day, the official end of summer fun. For the thousands of kids in pre-k this year who’s parents are considering private school for kindergarten the time to consider applications is now.

Applying to one of these schools is a multi-step process that involves completing written or online applications, screening tests, school tours, separate parent and child in-person interviews and financial documentation (if requesting financial assistance).

Consider these facts:

  1. Most people apply to 8-10 schools
  1. Between parent tours, parent interviews and child playdates, there will be 24-30 visits to schools during a roughly three-month period
  1. Including a modest 30 minute travel time, working parents will miss 56-65 hours of work during this time (not including time to complete applications and other required paperwork)

Our annual kindergarten admissions panel & school fair is a one-stop shop where you can meet admission directors and gather all of the information you need for a successful application. Some schools stop accepting applications early once they’ve reached a maximum number so getting an early start puts you ahead of the masses. The event takes place Monday, August 29, 2016, 6pm at Ephesus Church, 101 W 123rd Street. You don't want to miss this!

List of school fair participants:

Allen-Stevenson School

Bank Street

Brearley School

Browning School

Buckley School

Calhoun School

Collegiate School

Convent of the Sacred Heart

Dalton School

Elizabeth Morrow

Harlem Academy

Hewitt School

Hunter College Elementary

Manhattan Country School

Pono

Spence School

St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's

Town School