On Saturday and Sunday, October 21 to 22, New York received a blast of beautiful weather, perhaps the last before winter set in. While people all over the city were relishing in this fleeting blast of summer, thousands of eighth and ninth grade students gathered at a designated high school in their area to take the formidable SHSAT. Hopes of getting into their dream school were high, with many having prepared for this moment for months, or maybe even years.
The SHSAT, or Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, is an exam used by eight of the nine specialized high schools in New York City to determine whether students were qualified to attend one of the schools. The eight high schools that use the SHSAT in their admission process are Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn High School, Brooklyn Technical School, High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College, High School for American Studies at Lehman College, Queens High School for Sciences at York College, Staten Island Technical High School, and Stuyvesant High School. The ninth Specialized High School is Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, a school that specializes in visual and performing arts, and selects its students through auditions.
To apply to the specialized schools, a student registers through their school’s guidance counselor. On the application form, they must rank the schools they want to apply to from one to eight, with number one being their most desired school and number eight being their least. There are also boxes where one checks off whether they will audition for LaGuardia. These papers were due on October 12. From there, one receives a ticket from their guidance counselor that details the date, time, and location of their test/audition. The last step is taking the test or auditioning.
SHSAT and LaGuardia results are received in mid-March, a time of anticipation and sometimes dread for several New York City eighth (and ninth) graders. Though about 30,000 students take the SHSAT annually, less than half get into one of their desired schools and even fewer get into their first choice. If one is displeased with the school they have been admitted to, they have to go through the process again in ninth grade. Although there is a second round of the high school application process, the Specialized High Schools do not participate in it.
The majority of eighth graders in BSGE took the SHSAT, and for many, this opportunity has been long awaited. Sadly, many students who did not take the SHSAT still plan on leaving the school. Instead, applying to schools such as Bard and Townsend Harris. Through this hectic process, there have been mixed reactions about the test and high school applications in general. Katherine Y. ‘22 says “I thought the SHSAT was difficult, but not to the point of being impossible. Some questions were so easy you started to doubt yourself, while others were extremely difficult. I don’t know if I made it to my first choice, but it’s okay if I don’t because I like this school.” There are many students that share this sentiment, but others seem a lot more determined to stay in BSGE. Sama N. ‘22 says “I did not take the SHSAT because I wanted to leave this school. I have always liked small schools, since everyone knows everyone, and it feels like family in a way. I am not leaving the school and I am proud to say I go to BSGE.” Others, like Alyssa P. ‘22, are bent on leaving the school, however. She says, “To say I was prepared is fair. I really wanted to go. It’s been my dream to go to Stuyvesant since I was 10.”
BSGE loses students to other high schools every year, creating a large ongoing conflict about the SHSAT and high school applications. Regardless of where they plan to go, best of luck to all the eighth graders in their high school applications!