What I learned about the NYC Middle School Process


First off, don’t sweat it. I know, easier said than done, but really, there IS a school out there for your kiddo. I remember when we were starting the process last year I had no idea where to start. For a minute I got all worked up about submitting applications, going on tours and doing research that I was getting overwhelmed with all of it. I had to take a step back and allow myself to see the process clearly. After I realized it was actually giving us a good look at all of the options we had at our disposal, the process became much easier than I had anticipated.

I know you’re sitting there reading and re-reading the handbook the school provided to you. You’re dissecting it, making lists of things you think your child would be interested in and doing your due diligence. Here’s the deal - all of that is well and good and you should be doing it, but don’t be surprised when a school you thought was going to be “the” school turns out to be last on your list. That’s exactly what happened to us and several other families we know. In an effort to make this process a little less worrisome for you, here are some tips on getting through the middle school process (mostly) unscathed!

  • Do your research - Read the book. Know the statistics for the schools you’re looking at.
  • Tour EVERY school - I can’t stress this enough. You might think you “know” what your kid wants, but you don’t really. And they may surprise you. Make sure to take the tours WITH your child, it helps to be able to observe their reactions and share in the process.
  • Ask questions - prepare some before you attend a tour. Always have your child’s best interest at heart and don’t be afraid to ask any and all questions you have! The schools want you to ask.They want you to make an informed decision. They want you to want to be there.
  • Talk about it - discuss it with your child. Pros, cons, likes, dislikes...all of it. Because remember this - you don’t have to go to school there, your child does. This decision should be their decision.
  • Rank your choices - pick 3 - 5 schools after you’ve had a look. Chances are, if you’re choosing a school within the district you’re coming from, you’ll get your first choice. I have yet to hear differently.
  • Relax - you have to wait 5 months from the time you apply to middle school to receive your acceptance. Should you have a change of heart along the way, there is a grace period upon receiving your letter to make adjustments.
  • Support your child - be their sounding board, start open ended conversations when it comes to the type of school they’re interested in. You might have a child that is drawn more toward the arts versus math and science - and that’s great! Let them tell you what they want and how they feel. Your job is to allow them to explore and guide them, not stifle them.
  • YOU WILL BE OKAY. It’s middle school - not the bar exam. Your child is still growing and will be for a while academically, socially and physically. Don’t add pressure where it doesn’t need to be.

CONGRATULATIONS!! You made it through the middle school application process!! So have a glass of wine and enjoy. It’s one more thing you can cross off your list...and just think, you don’t have to worry about high school until 7th grade. (keep drinking!!)

Wishing you a smooth application process and a great school year!

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions regarding this process, I’m happy to help!!  

And just so you have it, here’s the link to all of the school districts in NYC. http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/Middle/Resources/default.htm