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.

2019 NYC Public High School Admissions

The image above is how most people feel when it comes to NYC Public High School admissions. Can the process be any more complicated than it already is? I don't think so.

My child is a rising 7th grader so we (mostly me at this point) are fully immersed in the high school search. In order to introduce ourselves to the process, we have attended a high school admission workshop sponsored by CEC3 and I have attended the DOE summer High School Admissions Family Workshops. The workshops are great for getting general information on the overall high school & specialized high school admissions process and meeting representatives from the Specialized High Schools. A new feature this year is a separate workshop on the arts auditions process. They provided audition guides for each of the arts disciplines - visual arts, film, instrumental music, drama, vocal music, and dance. These guides will most likely be posted on the DOE website eventually but I'm happy to send a copy to anyone who requests one.

At this point in the process, depending on whether you will be entering 7th or 8th grade in the fall, here's what's recommended:

7th Grade

  • During the summer before school starts, it's a good idea to attend the summer high school admission family workshops and start to familiarize yourself with your options. The DOE School Finder and High School Directory are both online.
  • If you're considering attending a Specialized High School, put together a plan and start studying for the Specialized High School Admission Test (SHSAT)
  • Be sure to get to school every day and don't be late! Attendance is an important part of individual school admission rubrics.
  • Practice and collect your best work from 7th grade. You'll need it to put together an art portfolio or prepare for an audition to a high school arts program.

Summer Before 8th Grade

  • Attend the summer high school admission family workshops and start to create a list of school that you think might be a good fit. The DOE School Finder and High School Directory are both online.
  • Be sure to study for the SHSAT, rehearse for your auditions and work on your art portfolio.
  • Check school websites, our events calendar or contact schools directly for school open house and tour dates. Set up a calendar to keep track of tour dates and application deadlines. You don't want to miss anything.

8th Grade

  • Attend the high school fairs in September and October. Check the DOE website or our events calendar for dates.
  • Find audition dates for specific audition programs and register. Check the school websites or contact the school directly for up-to-date information.
  • For screened programs, find out admission requirements and instructions in the High School Directory.
  • Attend open houses and tours.
  • Register for the SHSAT and/or LaGuardia High School auditions through your school counselor or at a Family Welcome Center by October 11, 2018
  • Get your SHSAT ticket and/or LaGuardia High School audition ticket
  • Take the SHSAT and/or audition for LaGuardia High School as scheduled
  • For audition programs, go to auditions and/or interviews
  • For screened programs, complete assessments and/or submit portfolios.
  • Submit your Round 1 application online, through your counselor, or at a Family Welcome Center by December 3, 2018.

Check our site for continued updates as we advance through the admission process.

 

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

2017 Summer Camp Fairs Coming to UWS & Harlem


The best summer camp fair uptown is back! This year, in cooperation with the Bank Street School for Children, we have expanded and will be hosting camp fairs in two locations:

Upper West Side - Sunday, February 12, 2017, 12-3pm
The Bank Street School for Children
610 W 112th Street

Central Harlem - Sunday, March 19, 2017, 12-3pm
Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist Church
101 W 123rd Street
Register to attend Central Harlem Summer Camp Fair

If you’re anything like me, you are overwhelmed with all of the camp options available and unsure about what program will be a good fit for your child. Camp fairs bring camps straight to parents allowing them to have face-to-face conversations with many camp directors in one place, within a short period of time.

If you'd like to register your camp to participate in the fair you can do so here.

Hear what neighborhood parents have to say about our camp fairs
Let's Talk Schools Camp Fair video

Confirmed attendees include:
92nd Street Y Camp Yomi
HSA ARTScape Summer Camp
Bank Street Summer Camp
BEE in the City
Breakaway Hoops
Calhoun Summer Camps
Camp Dunnabeck at Kildonan
Camp Intrepid
Camp Kinderland
Camp MSM (Manhattan School of Music)
Camp Northwood
Camp Twelve Trails
Columbia University Little Lions Camp
Corbin's Crusaders
Day Camp in the Park
Deer Mountain Day Camp
Fresh Air Fund
Frost Valley YMCA
Gate Hill Day Camp
Girl Scouts Urban Day Camp
Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program
Harlem YMCA
HypotheKids
Hollingworth Science Camp
HudsonWay Immersion School Summer Camp
JCC Manhattan Summer Camps
Kids in the Game
Camp Ma He Tu
Play On Studios
Pocono Springs Camp
Pouncing Tigers Summer Programs
Project Performing Arts
Spring Lake Day Camp
Tech Kids Unlimited
The Fresh Air Fund
The Nature Place Day Camp
Wildlife Conservation Society Zoos and Aquarium
Woodmont Day Camp

Not all camps listed above will be at every fair. More to come. Stay tuned!

Value-Added: Single -Sex Education for Girls

ipad photo By Kelly Bird Pierre

Kelly Bird Pierre is the former Director of Enrollment and Admissions, K–12  at The Hewitt School and current Lower School Principal at Friends' Central School She taught in co-ed lower school classrooms for 13 years before working in admissions at a single-sex school.  

What is the value-added in a girls’ school?  It is an intentional commitment to expand the range of what is possible for a girl.  The gift that a single sex school gives a girl is space; space to explore, to experiment, to speak, to believe, to strengthen and to see herself reflected in the larger world.  Our girls are prepared to do anything, but told that they need not do everything.

Our kindergarten girls walk into classrooms where each lesson and space is designed with their success in mind.  The range of possibilities for the girls is immediately greater. As a former colleague observed, “At Hewitt, the block area is always open for girls.” Although many teachers in co-ed classrooms are careful to make things equitable, there are gender differences in how children play.  The guideline that, “There must be two girls and two boys in the block area” may still not encourage girls to join because they don’t like the way the boys play with the blocks.  There is a joy in building something as big as you can and knocking it down that is fun for some boys and not fun for some girls.  Having spaces that are solely for them allows girls to move freely within their classroom and the school and to experiment more broadly within the program.

Unfortunately, we still live in a world in which voices of female leadership are scarce.  In 2012 only 14.3% of women held Executive Officer positions in Fortune 500 companies.1  In my own classroom, I observed that boys will generally raise their hand before they think of their answer and girls often  think of their answer before they raise their hand.  Inherently, this is going to lead to more boys being called on unless a teacher waits…and waits.  This only intensifies in co-ed settings as girls become more self-conscious of their changing bodies and sense of themselves, and, consequently, sometimes defer to boys even when they have the answer.  Next time you are in a classroom, I encourage you to look at whose hands are in the air and who is talking.  In a single sex school there is less competition for airspace, and quieter girls know there is room for their voices.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course, many of our daughters will gravitate toward pink and Barbies no matter how hard we try to fight the gender stereotypes because we are immersed in a culture where gender stereotypes still thrive.  The same is true for the subjects towards which girls and boys gravitate.  We can look at how many women are represented in the STE2M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Environmental Sustainability and Math) fields to see this is true.  Many boys expect to be good at math, which is half the battle of success.  As my own second graders matured throughout the year, the girls would watch more boys join the enrichment math work at lunchtime, and my strongest girls would start to shy away from the work time.  I worked hard to counteract girls’ too often tacit assumption that they should not be good at math.  At a girls’ school, girls are the best at everything.

The voices and roles of women are at the forefront of the experience in an all-girls school, and our students have the chance to see strong women in action today and in history.  When third graders study biographies they are asked to choose an influential woman to read about, write about and then come alive as at a Living Museum.  In high school, eleventh and twelfth graders choose from electives such as “Searching for Self” in which the girls read literature including Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers and examine the unity of women in a hostile and repressive culture.  Co-ed schools examine such texts as well, but in our AP English class the girls can question and debate sexuality, sexism and repression without having to defend their feelings and experiences. We provide them with the room to make sense of the world that they are on the brink of taking on as young women.

RAMSA 1

At Hewitt, we are not only providing many opportunities for our girls to study within the STE2M subjects, but we are constantly engaged in a dialogue about how girls learn these subjects best.  80% percent of wiring in the brain in gender-specific.  And although one in five girls do not follow the research patterns, we need to acknowledge there are gender differences in the way girls and boys process information.2  Various studies, including one out of the University of Chicago, indicate differences in spatial skills, beginning as early as kindergarten.3  One of the hallmarks of our STE2M program is hands-on-learning that features these skills.  Students are constantly given opportunities to build and design in three dimensions, to use carpentry tools, and to develop mechanical sense.   And, as we move into the middle and upper school, the sophistication of these activities increases with the use of 3-D design programs, robotics, and collaborative work with experts in fields like architecture and engineering.

More importantly, girls are not just being immersed in every subject; they are working side-by-side with women in the STE2M fields.  Before building bridges in class, our students tour the George Washington Bridge towers with female engineers.  We are not just telling the girls you can do this; we are showing them they can do it.  It gives the work our students are doing value and helps each girl imagine a possible future for herself.  The assignment becomes a step toward something greater.  This type of imprint is sure to change the number of women represented in the STE2M fields.

I have been asked, often by fathers, “Isn’t a girls’ school like going to school in a bubble?” “Yes,” I respond, “It is.  It is a bubble that benefits girls tremendously.  Girls leave Hewitt to go to mostly co-ed colleges and universities, lifted by that spacious bubble and emboldened to challenge assumptions that anything is out of reach for them.”  I’ll never forget a Hewitt alumna telling me about raising her hand in a 300 freshman lecture class and a friend turning to her to say ‘How can you raise your hand?’”  Her response?  “Why wouldn’t I raise my hand?”

 

1 "Statistical Overview of Women in the Workplace." Catalyst. March 13, 2013. http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/statistical-overview-women-workplace

2 "Understanding and Raising Girls." PBSParents. http://www.pbs.org/parents/raisinggirls/brains/nature.html

3 Harms, Bill. "Study Shows Early Sex Differences in Spatial-Learning Skills." The University of Chicago. November 18, 1999.  <http://chronicle.uchicago.edu/991118/spatial.shtml>