open houses vs tours

Someone had a great question about the difference between school tours and open houses, whether you need to attend both, and which is better. 

There’s not a super quick answer for this but I’ll do my best to summarize.

Every school handles how they show their school in their own unique way and what they call their offerings can mean different things. 

Generally speaking, an open house is open to anyone and you can just show up without making a reservation and you wander the building on your own. Some exceptions: LaGuardia and Bronx Science ask that you register. Another anomaly - at Beacon you just show up but then are separated into groups and you are given a predetermined tour of the building by student volunteers (so it’s an open house but also a tour). Stuy changed things up last year. They used to have the same set up as Beacon, but now they open the building and families can wander themselves. Open houses generally have more people available for you to talk with, as in students, teachers, and administrators throughout the building to answer questions.

Tours are generally student led. Some take place during the school day, like at Lab or Murrow (the latter are close to impossible to sign up for - I’ll write more on that later), others are in the afternoon after schools is out like Bard Queens and NEST. They generally have a presentation by someone on the faculty first (that holds true for open houses as well). 

Then there are schools like Eleanor Roosevelt who hosts tours  those are also families wandering the building with mostly students posted in classrooms to answer questions so they’re more like an open house but with a cap on how many can attend. 

And, there are a few schools who offer both: Bard Queens, Brooklyn Tech, Brooklyn Latin, Murrow, NEST sometimes too.

So generally speaking, open houses are far more packed but you have the opportunity to see more. Tours are generally capped and you’re often mostly hearing from current students. 

Last option: for those who can’t keep up with the pace of seeing every school, attending the high schools fairs (there’s no longer a giant one, instead there are 2 weekends in the fall with borough wide fairs) can be a great way of getting info about different places on the same day.