As parents prepare for the high school admissions process with nervous excitement, are their rising 8th graders feeling the same level of anticipation? For students preparing for the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), there is a good chance that they are feeling overwhelmed, and not in a good way. Why? The SHSAT is the only application piece taken into consideration by 8 of the 9 Specialized High Schools. It is a rigorous test that covers extracurricular material and takes 3 hours to complete with no breaks. Of the 28,000 applicants each year, only 5,000 gain seats by having the highest overall scores. With so much riding on a single test score, those taking the SHSAT in October feel their summer vacations ending fast.
But this does not have to be the only narrative here. As you can imagine, if you were preparing for a rigorous exam to gain entry into an academic institution, motivation is a huge key. We take the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, etc. to gain access to personal and professional resources, social and academic communities, and most importantly, opportunities that deeply interest us. The SHSAT should not be seen any differently: This is an opportunity to dialogue with your student and find out what motivates them. What are they looking forward to in High School? What are their passions – will they extend to High School, University, or beyond? How can each of these schools support their goals and needs?
I will always remember the time when a student, upset at the prospect of leaving his current school and friends, was asked by a school administrator why he wanted to apply to their school. He simply responded: I don’t. As a parent, you can be excited to join Stuyvesant’s or Brooklyn Tech’s community, but your student needs to be as well. Families can engage their students by attending Department of Education workshops together, going to Family Welcome Centers together, and visiting the schools together. To build confidence for exam day, families can also enroll their students in 1-on-1 or small group tutoring programs around the city to add another academic and socio-emotional safety net. This is an opportunity to involve your student through the preparation and application process to bolster excitement, anticipation, and most importantly motivation. To learn more about the NYC High School process, register for one of our many events in the city. Visit www.bright-kids.com/events for more information! Best of luck in October!