How to Get Into the High School of Your Choice

It's your eighth grade year, and everyone is trying to get into a good high school. However, all of the schools you are looking at are extremely competitive. How are you going to get in? This article covers what admissions directors look for in a student, and how you can use that to get in.


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    You should be applying to at least two schools; three is even better. The more backup you have, the more likely it is for you to get accepted. However, you don't really want to apply to more than four, because it costs money to apply, and you have to interview at all the schools you apply to.
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    Start early! The place to start is in fifth grade, not eight! You want to get your grades up and participate in as many extra-curriculum activities as possible. Starting something in eighth grade looks like you're trying to do it to impress the high school!
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    Grades, grades, grades! The high schools look at your report card of seventh grade and the first trimester of eighth grade. Having high grades is a very good idea! Try to aim for 20% and above. If you have other skills, show them to the school.
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    Testing! Your ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) scores are sent to the high schools you're applying to, so make sure you try to do well. Also, Most high schools make you take an entrance exam. Catholic high schools usually use the HSPT. Other private high schools use the ISEE. Boarding schools use the SSAT.You are required to take the SHSAT for Specialized high schools in New York City. You should sign up to take the test at your favorite school to show them that they are first on your list. However, if that isn't possible, you can take it at another location and have the score sent. You want to do extremely well on these tests, and you don't want your real one to be the first time you've taken it. If possible, contact a tutoring agency about three months in advance. This gives you time to learn all the vocabulary you might encounter and learn tricks for math sections and reading comprehension. You could have a private tutor in which study sessions are tailored to your needs, or go to an agency such as Renaissance Kids. If you do not want to be tutored, buy a preparation book, which will teach you the tricks and will usually include a practice test in the back. Take at least one practice test administered like the real thing before you actually take the real thing.
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    Resume! Try to participate in activities you like out of school. Sports, choir, alter-serving, martial arts, piano/other instrument, academic decathlon, chess, dancing, and Student council all look amazing to high schools. However, make sure you like the activity and aren't doing it just for high schools. Don't do too much, either, or your grades will suffer.
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    Teacher Recommendations! Your teachers hold your fate in their hands. If you are a talkative student who never does their homework, the teacher isn't going to lie! Again, it's better to start early on this one. Do all your homework from your sixth grade year, don't talk in class, and if you have trouble go to the teacher afterwards for help. Try to make friends with your teachers-if the teacher likes you, it will show in the amazing recommendation you will be given!
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    The Interview! The interview is an extremely important part of the admissions process. If you have a full resume, amazing grades, great score on standardized test, and recommendations extolling you, this is the high school's chance to see who you are as a person and see if you're really right for that school. If you shake hands, make eye contact. Try to include the extra activities you do when they ask questions. The hard part is not to sound like a braggart. Remember, always be true to yourself. If you are pretending, they'll notice! If it is asked if the school is your first choice, LIE! The schools rarely accept you if you say that they are only a backup! YOU HAVE TO TELL THEM THEY ARE YOUR FIRST CHOICE IF YOU WISH TO GET ACCEPTED! Try to show how unique you are, and what you would add to the school community. Be extremely polite, don't wear casual clothes, and don't get too nervous. Remember, even though the interview is important it is only 1/5 of what you are judged on!
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    Go to school events! Come to the open house, ask for a shadow day, if they are putting on a musical, go to it. This not only gives you a good taste of the school but it also shows the school how committed you are and how much you want to be there.
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    Make sure all your applications and recommendations get in on time. In some schools the teachers will take care of this, but in others you must approach them. Most high schools want a recommendation from the English teacher and the Math teacher. However, you can ask for personal recommendations from other teachers, too.
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    You applications and recommendations are usually done in December. The standardized test should be taken by January, or, at the latest, early February. However, you won't know if you have been accepted or not until early March. Don't waste time and energy worrying! Keep your grades up and apply yourself to the extra activities you do. Don't let your grades fall in the second trimester; some schools have waiting lists and some acceptances are only if you keep your grades up.
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    If you don't get accepted into your first choice of school, don't be too upset. Maybe it's just not the right place for you. Most schools allow you to send your acceptance as late as the end of March, so don't hurry to send in a "yes" to your backup. If you didn't get in, you're probably high on the waiting list, so wait until the end of March before making your final decision.
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    If you do get accepted to the school of your choice, congratulations! Send in your reply immediately, so that the schools knows that you are coming. Send "No thanks!" to all your backup schools as soon as possible too, so that someone on their waiting list can get in and doesn't have to wait.
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    Don't stop working hard even after you have been accepted. If the process has given you better study habits, you want to keep them! The schools you applied to are probably hard, so make the most of the rest of your junior high education because you may need it!


  • Be yourself. If you are sporty but not academic, don't try to hide it. You might think that the school won't like you if you be yourself, but do you really want to spend four years of your life in a school where you have to pretend to be someone other than yourself?


  • This article is mainly for private school entrance. If you are applying to a public school, this advice may not be for you.

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Categories: School Stuff