The High School Application Process isn’t Bad–It’s Horrible


Drawn by Johan Garcia

Johan Garcia, Opinion Writer

Most students at NYC Museum School can attest to the struggles of the high school application process. For some, it was stressful and anxiety-inducing, for others it was straightforward. However, those who don’t have younger siblings may not be aware of how much has changed in the last couple of years. The process is no longer based on student’s grades, but rather a lottery system that is supposed to be “fair and equal to all,” especially for students of lower socioeconomic standing, or ethnic minority groups, in order to provide them a fair shot at the city’s top-tier schools. 

The lottery system ignores student’s grades and focuses on a system that’s supposed to encourage equality and fairness. However, it has done the complete opposite. In other years, students were placed into tiers based on their grades, however, now the first tier, (which is supposed to be reserved for high-scoring students, giving them first pick for top schools), is made up of 60% of all 8th grade students in New York City. 

The new system begins by assigning each student a lottery number. The number is created by taking in numerous factors, such as grades, zoning, system priorities and other factors. This number is then used to determine their chance at getting into their top schools in their application. Although this randomization aims to give every student a fair chance at getting into top-tier schools, in reality, students who had lower lottery numbers, (such as 0), were more likely to get their top choices. On the other hand, students with digits, such as 8 or 9, had practically no shot at any of their top schools, no matter their grades. The end result is a system that fails to fulfill its purpose of being “equal to all.”

The system to many feels unnecessary and that it ignores student ranking. High school applications are formatted by student preference. Students rank their “Dream Schools” or top schools as their first three choices, and from there, they rank the schools in preferred descending order. Therefore, students with lottery numbers starting with 8 or 9 received offers from schools they ranked lower and were less inclined to join.

As a result of the new system being overall faulty and ironically unfair. It has led to the majority of students across the city not getting their top choices on their applications which is the main reason for such high amounts of transfers out of highschools this year.

I myself have actually had the unfortunate experience of witnessing the terrible system in action. I have a younger sibling, who is currently a 9th grader. She is someone who I consider a strong student, which is only further emphasized by her incredible academic success, graduating with a 99 average from middle school. She was also arguably top of her class in 7th grade, the year that is supposed to be taken into most consideration by the application process. However, due to her lottery number starting with 8, she had the unlucky fate of getting an offer from her 10th choice. Only through second round offers was she accepted into a higher tier school that she had initially ranked 6th on her list, and even now is still considering going through the in 10th grade highschool transfer admissions. To me, this only highlights the complete ignorance and overall dreadful thinking behind this system, that only does the opposite of what it promised.

Some current 9th graders have thought of transferring out themselves.  Student Stephanie Yang answered, I actually have considered transferring out just because I wanted to go to a school that fits the skill and major I would like to work with in college too, so I’d like to have a grasp of the major in highschool.Stephanie, just like many other 9th graders who didn’t get into a school they felt best suited them, was not only failed by the system that did nothing but give them empty promises, but put them in an unfavorable position with regards to preparation for college. Although Stephanie is comfortable at Museum, she is one of many students who felt that the school they got wasn’t the best fit for their aspirations, and is an example of why freshmen started to transfer out of Museum within such a short period of time.  

Dylan Mrozinski, an NYCMS freshman, provided further insight into recent transfers.  “I think they transferred because they had a new system for going from middle school to high school and they did not get their first choice.” This only gives some explanation into how these 9th graders truly feel about their results. For the most part they didn’t get the school they really wanted due to the lottery system’s randomization and lack of consideration about other variables that could affect a student’s high school offer. Regardless of how embarrassingly bad the system is, Museum is also not the worst possible outcome for 9th graders. All of the incoming students I interviewed shared the belief that Museum provides a great environment for its incoming students. With interviewee Amaanda Acevedo summarizing their collective feelings by stating,” I think the school does provide a healthy and inclusive environment because they put students in things like modules that help students make new friends and get to know more people.”.


In general, this system in my eyes is simply too random to provide accurate matching of students and schools. It doesn’t achieve the only real purpose it has, and instead created an unfair system where students who worked hard throughout middle school, only to lose out on a seat in their dream school simply because of a number they had no control over.