High School

Unsure which high school is best for your child? We can help.


In New York City, families have many options for educating their children in both the public and private school sectors. Either choice offers students the chance for a wonderful academic experience. The challenge for many families is in navigating their options to find a good match for your child and family. For Nursery School or Kindergarten, your school list would be based on your own educational preferences along with what you know of the learning style of your child. For High School, your child has an academic record, along with preferences, and should be an active participant in the research and decision process. Families should take the time to explore all of their options in making a considered decision, keeping in mind that the “right” school is the one that is best for your student and your family.

Preparing for the Admissions Process

The entry point for both public and private high schools is 9th grade with the majority of schools processing all of the applications submitted by their stated due date, which is generally during the Fall of your child’s 8th grade year. Begin your research well in advance, compiling a list of schools based on your family’s priorities, which might include location, size of school, educational philosophy, curriculum, and facilities. Typically, we recommend you consider anywhere from 6 to 10 schools.

Additional Tips for How to Begin

  • Contact the schools you are interested in to see if they will be conducting Spring Tours (Smart City Kids has full list of Spring Tours that we offer our families).
  • Attend Information Nights on Independent Schools that may be offered by your current school or offsite organizations.
  • Meet with your guidance counselor, admissions director or a Smart City Kids consultant regarding the admissions process and your preliminary list.
  • Begin preparing for testing, which might include the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) and/or the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) for private schools, and/or the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) for New York City public schools.
  • Contact Smart City Kids to schedule your initial consultation.


How we can help

If you schedule a one-on-one session with a Smart City Kids Advisor, one of the first things we’ll help you do is narrow your focus. Before we meet, we’ll send you a questionnaire to complete that will help you think through and decide on qualities in a school that matter most to you.

During our meeting, we will spend time with you in advance of meeting your child and talk further about your goals. A detailed discussion of your child and your priorities will help us assess schools that would be a good match. The first step towards improving your child’s chance to be accepted at the schools you want is to apply to schools where the fit is right. Schools will be assessing fit as carefully as you will be, so if you get that right, you are already one step ahead.

We’ll talk with you about why we think the fit is right, what the environment and culture are like at these schools, and how competitive each school is. If, after you visit the recommended schools, you feel the need for more choices, we can suggest other options. But our goal is to point you to the right options immediately so you don’t waste time or feel overwhelmed with possibilities.

If you decide to work through the full admissions process with Smart City Kids, we will meet your child, provide our assessment of your child’s academic skills and presentation, recommend tutoring resources as appropriate, revisit your school list in context, work with both parents and students on essays and interviews, and strategize as you prioritize your list and make choices from the offers you receive. For families who are relocating, students in public schools, or in K-12th grade schools, we interact directly with the ongoing schools.