Stay on top of the key dates for applying to NYC schools. Photo: Mary Taylor

Below are key dates for applying to traditional public, public charter, private Catholic and independent schools, and what each deadline means for your student:

  • September 2024: Independent School Applications Open
    • All private independent schools, including internationally renowned names like Dalton, Trinity, Horace Mann, Saint Ann’s, the all-girls Brearley, the all-boys Collegiate, and dozens more, post their applications online after Labor Day. Completed applications are due, traditionally, throughout the months of November, December, and January. Schools often ask for students’ prior grades and test scores, teacher recommendations, as well as interviews with the applicant and their parents. For information on private school testing, watch the video below:
YouTube video
  • October 2023: Charter School Applications Open
    • Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are free to attend. They accept by lottery, with some district and borough priority. Among the highest performing charter networks accepting new students in high school are KIPP, Democracy Prep, Brooklyn Prospect and Dream. Since many of the schools start in Kindergarten, there are limited spots for ninth-grade entry. When I applied for my daughter during the pandemic, some of the waitlist numbers were north of 500!
  • Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023: High School Application & Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) Registration Opens
    • Around 70,000 students apply to NYC public high schools every year for ninth grade. When families first start their general (non-SHSAT) application, they will be issued a hexadecimal number which is not  a lottery number (although that’s what people call it), but an indication of your place in line. Click here for a detailed explanation of how to interpret where you stand relative to other applicants, and here for a survey of which numbers got into which schools in previous years. The survey includes data on diversity in admissions, where some schools set aside a percentage of seats for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, or are English language learners. Many schools also have quotas for students with disabilities. You can find out which schools offer which programs by looking at individual stats at MySchools.
    • Public high school choices include screened, arts, ed-opt and unscreened schools. The majority of screened schools look at your child’s seventh-grade final grades, and sort students into tiers for priority in admission. A handful of screened consortium schools use essays and other factors. Arts schools ask for portfolios and video auditions
    • Specialized Schools only look at the student’s score on the SHSAT. About 40,000 students sit for the exam, with around 5,000 ultimately being offered a seat at an SHSAT school. When you register for the SHSAT, you will be asked to rank which SHSAT schools you would like to be considered for. It is not necessary to rank every school in order to be considered. Learn more below.
YouTube video
  • Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023: Test for Admission into Catholic High School (TACHS) registration closes
    • Catholic high schools are private schools; they are usually less expensive than independent schools. They have their own test, and often offer scholarships based on your child’s score. Non-Catholic students are welcome. 
  • Friday, Oct. 27, 2023: SHSAT registration closes 
  • Friday, Nov. 3 to Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023: TACHS Administered
  • Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023: Deadline to enter high school choices into TACHSinfo.com
    • You must list the schools that you are applying to in order to be considered for their merit scholarships.
  • Wednesday Nov. 8, 2023: SHSAT school day testing
    • While many public middle schools offer in-school testing, that doesn’t include all public middle schools. Students whose schools don’t offer a weekday SHSAT will need to take it on an alternative weekend date.
  • Saturday Nov. 18, 2023: SHSAT Weekend Testing (Day 1)
    • Weekend SHSAT testing dates are available for charter and private school students.
  • Sunday Nov. 19, 2023: SHSAT weekend testing (Day 2)
  • Friday, Dec. 1, 2023: High school application closes 
    • This is the final date to turn in your public school application materials, which may include essays, portfolios, and auditions. In previous years, families have been able to change their ranking order after the application had closed. But there’s no indication how long that window could remain open, and the site has a tendency to be shut down without warning. As a result, we strongly urge you to pick the ranking of 12 schools your child would be willing to go to, and then not torture yourself with second guessing!
  • Sunday Dec. 3, 2023: SHSAT weekend testing (Day 3)
  • Saturday Dec. 9, 2023: SHSAT weekend testing (Day 4)
  • Friday, Jan. 19, 2024: TACHS results released
    • Some schools may notify as early as January 10, 2024
  • Friday, Feb. 23, 2024: Independent schools notify admission
    • If you applied for financial aid, you will receive notification of your award at the same time as your acceptance. Learn more about financial aid by listening to the podcast below.
YouTube video
  • End of February 2024: Deadline to accept a Catholic school offer
    • This often proves to be families’ first conflict. Because the deadline to accept a Catholic school offer comes before public schools notify admission, you will be required to put down a deposit to secure your spot. If you change your mind and decide to attend public school, the money is not likely to be refunded.
  • Thursday, March 7, 2024: Public high school offer release 
    • If you receive only one offer and intend to accept it, there is nothing further you need to do. If you receive more than one offer, you will need to pick one. If you do not intend to attend the public school where you were placed, you need to decline the offer, usually via your middle school guidance counselor.
  • Thursday, March 14, 2024: Deadline to accept an independent school offer
    • This year, unlike some previous years, families will know which public school their child has been accepted to prior to needing to commit to an independent school. If you are happy with your public placement, simply turn down your private school offer. If you are not, then register at the private school.
  • Monday, April 1, 2024: Public charter school applications due
    • Another bit of serendipity. Families unhappy with their public placement who did not apply to private schools as backup, can still apply to charter schools and see if they receive a better offer. Charter schools notify acceptance throughout the months of April and May.
  • September 2024: Public school waitlists close
    • Public school waitlists move throughout the summer and into the fall. It is entirely possible that you might get off the waitlist after the academic year has started (as happened to multiple people in 2023). If you prefer the public school you were waitlisted at to the public school you were originally assigned, then you simply transfer schools. However, if you accepted a private school and then were notified that you had gotten a spot at the public school of your dreams, you can withdraw from the private school, but they can keep your money — up to the entire year’s tuition.
  • Thursday, Oct. 31, 2024: Public school rolls close
    • Officially, the Department of Education states that waiting lists close mid-September. However, undersubscribed schools eager for the state money that comes with your child’s attendance, will often be open to accepting new students even after the deadline has passed, as long as it’s before Oct. 31 (after which they can no longer receive funding for every new registration). This is why, if you really have your heart set on a particular public school, there is nothing to lose by continuing to check in with either the principal or the parent coordinator. It’s amazing how often rules get bent when money is involved. 

In the end, we are huge advocates of having more choices. We advise families to apply broadly. It’s possible at the end of the process to have an offer from an SHSAT school and from LaGuardia School of the Arts (where it’s possible to get an offer from more than one program), from a general public school, and from multiple charter, Catholic and independent schools.

You can ultimately only attend one, but it’s best to have multiple offers to choose from.

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2 Comments

  1. Nest programs for Children with disabilities going into 9th grade in the Throggsneck area of the Bronx. I don’t see anything pertaining to our kiddos??

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