round 2 and appeals

While I’ve written about round 2 and appeals before, now feels more relevant, as you’re about to submit applications and think about (hopefully taking a bit of a break for awhile) what’s next. And, I’ve had a couple questions that I stumped me, so I checked in with the head of High School enrollment and wanted to share what I learned. I will add that I’m hoping no one has to deal with any of this, but things happen and it’s good to have info going in.

The appeals process starts ONLY after round 2 is over. If you’re not happy with your main round offer, you cannot start the appeals process until round 2 is over. 

If your child doesn’t get a main round offer they MUST participate in round 2. You can’t appeal if you don’t have an offer to appeal from. Unless they have a specialized offer. If they choose to accept that, they don’t need to participate in round 2.

If your child doesn’t get a main round offer but DOES receive a specialized offer, if they participate in round 2, in order to get main round placement, THEY LOSE THE SPECIALIZED SEAT - this is something I just learned. Specialized seats are considered main round offers and if you don’t accept it when those main round letters are returned, you forfeit the seat. I’ve known a bunch of kids at this point in that situation. All took the specialized spot or went private. I’d never heard of anyone trying to hold onto the seat. Turns out it’s because they can’t.

Appeals ALL GO THROUGH THE DOE. You can’t approach a school yourself and have them magically change things. Rumors swirl outrageously around this. I’ve heard all kinds of things, about seats granted on the spot, about the day after letters coming home families have already transferred their kids - trust me - stories abound. Not to say I haven’t seen remarkably unlikely things happen, but student registry is all done through the DOE. That’s just the way the system works.

You CANNOT appeal a specialized offer. The seat you get is the seat you get. End of story. Your child CAN take the SHSAT again in 9th grade. The process is exactly the same when it comes to offers and placement. Keep in mind there are generally aren’t many seats available.

Appeals are granted for specific reasons. This, from the DOE: travel hardship because they have moved during the process, or the student needs an accessible site, or has a severe medical condition. I’ve known people appeal because they want a school with a better sports team, because they weren’t comfortable with the student body make up or college readiness. None of those went through. 80,000 plus kids are looking for high school seats and there will be serious issues to contend with for some of them. Appeals are meant for people who really need them for specific reasons. But, again, you never know and everyone I’ve ever dealt with regarding high school placement is trying to work towards the best interests of kids. 

Yes, many of the most sought after schools have a few spots available during round 2. Those generally are SWD (students with disability) seats. I’ve been to the round 2 fair and it can be challenging there to find schools you’ll fall in love, or sometimes even moderately like. Not to say they don’t exist. But having a well rounded list going into main round is the responsible way to hopefully prevent a round 2 situation.

Some people go into this thinking if they don’t like their offer, they’ll hop into round 2 and give it a whirl. I’d suggest, if that’s what you’re thinking, don’t think that. Round 2 offerings are FAR LESS than main round. And it works the same - fill out an application and computerized matches are made. You can’t pick and choose. 

I’m sure this all could elicit more questions. Send them directly to me and I’ll share answers with everyone.

Hoping you’re all having a lovely holiday weekend! This is the first year my daughter wasn’t here for Thanksgiving. She had to stay in Chicago to work on a play, as part of her theater school program. Things keep changing. 

ranking schools

I’ve been getting some questions about ranking. There are so many variables to take into account at this point - there’s an awful lot to think about. 

Some things to keep in mind:

If it’s a screened program or school, MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD MATCHES THE SCREEN. I’ll never forget the principal of Baruch telling us at a tour that half their applications didn’t fit their screen. 

RANK IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE. It’s hard for parents and kids to not get caught up in the hype sometimes. It happened to us - Jack put Beacon first at the last minute because everyone else he knew was putting it first and he figured they were onto something. You and your family should put blinders on and avoid outside chatter as much as possible. Put what you like first at the top of the list and go down from there. Or, as we did it, put your least favorite at the bottom and work your way up.

DON’T TRY TO GAME THE SYSTEM. There is no such thing. Ranking something 2nd or 4th or a citywide vs a borough wide or however people think they might figure out an advantage is basically wishful thinking. 

TRY NOT TO GET TOO CAUGHT UP IN RUBRICS. There is SO MUCH INFORMATION out there and it can get overwhelming. Some of those rubrics are daunting and intricately specific. Others are far less so. Again, apples to zebras. It’s hard to compare schools side by side when you’ve got so much info from some and so little from others. This is going to be one of those situations where you can’t and won’t know how it all worked out in the end and trying to figure out concrete answers now is like pushing a rock up a hill.

You still can be changing your minds. Totally ok. We finished Jack’s application at 11:30 the night before it was due. 

The REACH - TARGET - SAFETY system the DOE is pushing this year is a bit misleading. Those are college application terms and make sense when you’re applying to a variety of schools and expecting to get a variety of acceptances. Since you’ll only get one main round offer, rank according to preference. Yes you should have a variety of schools on your list. Yes, it’s smart to have different admissions methods. But don’t include any schools on your list that you wouldn’t be happy with your child attending. 

That deserves it’s own line: DON’T INCLUDE ANY SCHOOLS ON YOUR LIST THAT YOU WOULDN’T BE HAPPY WITH YOUR CHILD ATTENDING. If it’s on your list, you’re telling the DOE you’re ok with it, Makes it much harder to appeal.

MAKE A COPY OF YOUR APPLICATION. Photocopy it. Scan it. Or take a photo of it with your phone. I’ve known situations where they’ve gone missing.

Gear up for a wait. Offer letters generally come out end of February/beginning of March. Remember - ALL OFFERS are on that one letter. That’s when you’ll find out SHSAT scores, which school/schools your child gets an offer at, open house info for specialized schools Quick note: all specialized schools offer open houses in the spring, to help families make a decision. Some main round schools offer them as well, but not all. 

And breathe. You survived this.