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Applying to NYC High Schools: Deciding on Schools

This LibGuide aims to provide information about the New York City public high school application system.



High School Online Directory

Every year, a physical copy of the High School Directory is handed out to students. It is important that students know this resource is also available online in case they misplace or never receive a copy. The guide is offered in English, Spanish, Chinese, Bengali, Russian, Arabic, Urdu, Haitian Creole, Korean, and French. Translated copies of this book may be found in your middle school or at a Family Welcome Center. For more information on Family Welcome Centers, please refer to the first page of this guide. 


  • 2019 High School Online Directory- A directory of schools provided by the Department of Education that helps students learn about high school admissions, discover schools and programs that interest them, gain information on specialized high schools, and advise the student on what makes a strong application. It is a great first resource for students to look at as it provides information on every high school within the five boroughs. Each school section provides essential contact information, sports, programs, academics, and overall school performance statistics. Schools also provide a list of subways and buses they are adjacent to them within the guide. It is best for students who still have a lot of time to look into schools.

Information for Guardians on Problems with Diversity

It is important for guardians to understand problems with diversity when it comes to the high school application system in order to think of ways to help your child combat these issues. If interested, students should also consider looking into these problems.




Tools To Help Your Decision

When applying to high school it is important to consider what type of program you are looking for. This may include a good sports program, strong ELL support, IB/AP courses, and more. One of the first things students should do is think about what interests them, and try and find a school and program that matches up with those attributes.


  • InsideSchools- An easy to navigate website that is a project of the Center for the New York City Affairs at The New School with helpful information on New York City schools. Schools are evaluated on a number of criteria including the Department of Education reported data, education plans written by school staff, teacher turnover, and more. The search bar allows students to refine their school options by helpful terms such as new immigrants, advanced level classes, wheelchair accessibility, special ed, dual language, or IB/early college programs. 


  • Public School Athletic League- A school that participates in the PSAL provides students with athletic opportunities in 25 different varsity sports. This website, run by the Department of Education, can be used to learn about different high school athletics teams. Students and their families can search schools by name, and then view game and team stats as well and obtain the contact information of athletic directors and coaches. Students can also view athletic eligibility requirements. This source is useful for students interested in playing sports.

  • New York City Dual Language Program- PDF document produced by the Department of Education that lists a handful of high schools within NYC that offer dual-language programs. It is primarily useful for those looking for a Spanish or Chinese dual language program, but could also useful for those looking for different language programs at a lower grade level.


  • Department of Education: Programs for English Language Learners- This source offers a large, more exhaustive list of dual language, transitional bilingual English, and ELL programs within the five boroughs. School numbers are used instead of names, and so it can be a difficult source to understand. Students looking into these types of programs may benefit from looking at this source with a school counselor, teacher, or guardian.

School Statistics

The Department of Education and other organizations have produced statistic charts based on New York City High Schools. Statical reports report on information such as graduation rates, academic excellence, school difficulties, and more. Looking at these statistics can help students and their families further refine the list of schools they're interested in.


  • Department of Education: School Quality Snapshot- A searchable summary report of high schools compiled by the Department of Education. The information snapshots provided are compiled through surveys given to students, parents, and teachers. Students can type the name of the school they’re interested in and view information on student achievement, rigorous instruction, college readiness, and whether or not students find the school to be a supportive learning environment. Information is stated in a clear manner and uses charts effectively. 
  • Department of Education: School Performance Dashboard- A searchable report of school statistics from the Department of Education. It provides multi-year performance data as well as the school's impact and performance data in comparison to other New York City schools. Users can also choose to view information based on ethnicity. This source primarily uses charts. 

  • Department of Education: School Quality Guide- A searchable Department of Education webpage combines the information found on the School Quality Snapshot and School Performance Dashboard. In this report, information is broken down in each section and can view the criteria for the quality review report. This resource may be more useful to guardians looking for more detailed data.

High School Fairs and Open Houses

2019 city-wide high school fair dates:

  • Saturday, October 5th
  • Sunday, October 6th

Every year, the Department of Education hosts high school fairs in every borough over the course of two days. These fairs are free and usually take place over one weekend in early September or late October from 10am to 3pm. In addition to the fairs, many schools hold open house events so that students may explore and get a better understanding of their academics and activities. If you are looking for information on the DOE fairs or high school open houses, please click this link
and scroll down to “view our open house calendar”. Remember that some schools will require students to register to attend their open houses beforehand.  

It is suggested that students go into the high school fairs with a list of schools they're interested in, along with a few questions for the representatives. 


  • Include NYC: Tip Sheet- A PDF document by Include NYC, an organization that supplies information to young people with disabilities. Guardians with a disabled child can look at this list to begin thinking of questions for high school admissions representatives and to help their children solidify their decisions on schools.