NYC DOE Creates School Waitlists for Middle and High School Students

Applying to New York City’s public school system can be complicated. For those children entering middle or high school, the process has been further complicated by a clunky second round of admissions for those students not getting into their top school choice. This year the Department of Education (DOE) has made a move to simplify the process. Welcome to the waitlist! 

The new system for the 2020/2021 school year stipulates that students who do not get into their first choice of middle or high school will now be randomly assigned a number and put on a waitlist. According to officials, this move will make the process streamlined and less burdensome. Gone is the second round of admissions, which could string the process along into May or June. Now parents will be able to see, in real-time, their child’s position on the waitlist. This does not include schools that have screened admission methods, for instance, an audition or prior year academic record or for specialized high schools such as Stuyvesant, which operate outside this process.

When students receive their middle or high school offer they will also receive a list of programs for which they have been waitlisted. Students will automatically be added to the waitlist of any program that was listed higher on their application than the program that they received an offer from. Parents will be able to track their child’s waitlist movement on an online tool or with a call to 311. 

Some school officials have cited that the process will put more demands on the schools to maintain their enrollment process while others say the process offers more transparency, which is welcome. The admission timeline will not change. Applications are opening in October with a December submission deadline. Offers will be sent to families in March.

To get a real feel for how the process will work watch the video at schools.nyc.gov. A calm narrator spells out the process using colorful graphics in a step-by-step guide. If nothing else it’s somewhat soothing, or if that fails just get ready to wait. 

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