open houses (and tours)

I wrote a long email while on jury duty this week about dealing with open houses and seemingly not only didn’t send it, but it’s disappeared into a black hole somewhere, so I’m honor of Bronx Science today and the slew of open houses coming up, here’s take two. 


Open hours are not created equal. Yet again in this crazy process, there’s no standardization and every school is responsible for how the run things. One of my takeaways from this process is how overwhelming it must be for principals to run their schools and then do this whole event set up part with no outside guidance or help. 


So, what to expect. That’s always different too. Some schools, like Beacon and Stuy, have a tour like set up. After an epic wait outside (people have been known to get there 3 hours early which is pretty over the top, but I was there close to 2 hours early for both), you’re escorted inside by large groups for a presentation (cafeteria at Beacon, auditorium at Stuy), then broken into smaller groups and escorted around the building to predetermined locations by students. Sort of an open house/tour hybrid. Beacon is such a popular destination, that they generally shut the line off at a certain point - not everyone gets in. And both schools offer 2 nights, split by borough. You can attend either one, there’s no checking in. Beacon always conflicts with one of the specialized schools and parents are always stuck with how to deal with that. 

Other schools, like Bronx Science and Tech, host open houses that are more open. You wander the building yourselves, classrooms are manned by students, teachers, and parents who are there to answer questions. Both of those get very crowded as well, Bronx Science less so because they host a spring open house. Brooklyn Tech is a crush - in the past the principal gives a short talk in the auditorium to start and it’s filled to stand room only, which means well over 3100 people. 

For these and all open houses, I’d suggest going early if you can. Things generally back up quickly and that can add to the stress. Having said that, my daughter and her dad showed up at Stuy 45 minutes before their open house ended and got a private tour, which they found delightful. 

Again, check out commutes, neighborhoods, ask about anything and everything you might be interested in: art/music programs, sports, APs, services for those who get them, homework . . . people are there to answer your questions. Seriously, ask away. 

And, take notes, take literature they’re giving away. All these open houses can start melting into a blur by the time you’re done. Good to have concrete notes while they’re still fresh in hot minds. 

I’d love to hear your feedback as you’re going through this part of the process. Please let me know how it’s going!