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Saturday, October 25, 2008

High School Admissions Counseling

Yes, it's that time of year again, when the 8th graders and their parents are all trying to figure out what to do about high schools. There's a girl south of 51st who is friends with the Brady Girls and with the girl whose mom put her in Perspectives Math & Science Academy. She's her mom's oldest daughter and her mother is very concerned about what high school she attends. She's been bugging me about when we could start talking about high schools--we ran into each other at the Ashland bus at 47th--I was getting off, she was getting on--and promised we would get it together.

Today we finally did. 51st Girl, her mother and I sat on my paper-strewn sofa and talked about schools and looked them up on the Internet for admissions info. Did you know Morgan Park High School has a lottery for the kids within its attendance area? I didn't know that until today.

51st Girl is a budding actress with reading scores above the 75th percentile but math scores below the 40th. Kids like her have a tough time getting into schools with special programs that say they want kids at the 50th percentile or higher in both math and reading.

"I want her to go some place she can get in, but that will help her graduate," her mom said. "I went to a not-so-good high school myself. At least I finished. I want more for her. I want her to look beyond what's here. I want her to go to college."

So here are all the schools we thought of for her so far. The really long shots: King, Curie and Lincoln Park because they all emphasize performing arts, even though her math scores aren't good enough. Lincoln Park includes an audition in its admissions process so she'd have a chance to prove herself that way. Also Kenwood, because it's good, even though she's out of area.

The maybe not as long shots: Kennedy and Hancock. Although they are out of area, we could try. Beth from our block got into Kennedy last year off the waiting list (I called the principal and pleaded her case--one more reason I want to know how her grades are so far).

Ones I hope are solid options: Simeon and Dunbar. Simeon now requires an application and an essay for everybody.

Pretty much all the charters since they can't exclude by test score: the Nobles (most likely UIC College Prep because it's closest. Also her mom is studying for some kind of health career and 51st Girl has picked up some interest in that area), Perspectives Math & Science (because it's new and accepts citywide with no geographic preference), U of C Woodlawn even though it's almost impossible with all the kids who have preference, DuSable Leadership, even the new UNO way west on 47th.

Readers, if you have any more ideas, please comment. And if anybody knows which is harder to get into, King or Lindblom, I'd be interested to hear the scoop. I think Lindblom is still the easiest selective enrollment to get into, but 51st Girl is way more suited to King, with its emphasis on performing arts. They have an open house November 1st, which I just spotted and will have to tell her mother ASAP. It's a long shot, but hey, you might as well apply to everything possible and see what you get.

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