Why is Staten Island Technical High School Arguably the Best High School in NYC?

I admit, as a Stuyvesant High School alum, I was kind of disappointed when my daughter decided to check off Staten Island Technical High School as her number one choice before she took the SHSATs. You must pick one high school, and if you score high enough, that is the school you will attend, no changing of minds. I had worked so hard to try to get her ready for the SHSATs: three years before the test, I took her to Kaplan in Manhattan, and then every weekend, I hired a private tutor to hone her math and English skills. The tutoring was not for naught, because she was able to get straight As in class as well as score a near-perfect score on the SAT. I just kind of wished that she could have attended Stuy like I did. But– is Stuy really the best high school in NY? It is in Manhattan, and Manhattan is supposed to be the best, right? However, for kids who do not live in Manhattan, the commute is terrible. Why subject a young teen to four hours of commuting everyday?

Unfortunately, Stuyvesant is near the World Trade Center, which has been the target of at least three terrorist attacks. In 2017, someone even ran his car across the pedestrian walkway near Stuy, killing and injuring many. For this reason, Stuy will always be more dangerous than other high schools in the other boroughs. As for traffic, a Stuy kid can cross the pedestrian bridge to cross the West Side Highway to get to the high school. A kid from Brooklyn who takes the S79 bus to get to Staten Island Tech will need to cross Hylan Boulevard to go home.

Staten Island Tech has some excellent athletic facilities right on campus, including a football field, track, and tennis court. Being in Manhattan, Stuy’s space is more vertical, with many floors in the building, each dedicated to a specific topic like math and science. Of course, Stuy’s Olympic pool is very special and Tech does not have a pool.

The competition at Stuy is fierce; more so than at any other school. Seems like your kid will constantly be competing with others in the class. However, college admissions officers might be more inclined to accept a student from Stuy due to past acceptances. Staten Island is also competitive, but not as bad as Stuy. But isn’t the goal to aim high and see where you land? If your goal is Stuy, then go for it. After all, Stuy is a feeder school to Harvard. Stuyvesant probably gets more students than Staten Island Tech into the elite schools. However, the competition is stiff, and your kid would be way more stressed out all the time.

What if you are undecided and your goal is just to get into a specialized high school? Should you just pick the school you really want to attend? We asked Kenny Tan, an SHSAT tutor in New York City, and he replied:

Students are ranked according to their score on the test and assigned to a school depending on their rank, the priority in which they placed schools on their application, and the seats available at each school.

The cutoff score for a school changes from year to year depending on how the test takers perform that year. Students are ranked from highest to lowest score. The student with the highest score always gets their first choice. Then the next student gets their first choice and so on and so. If, by the time the system gets to you, your first choice school is full, then you’ll get your 2nd choice, unless that one is also full, then you’ll get your 3rd choice unless that one is also full, and so on and so on. The cutoff score for a school is whatever score the last student that gets admitted into that school scored.

Not all students who took the SHSAT will get an offer to a testing Specialized High School, and the Specialized High Schools do not have waitlists.

Kenny Tan, SHSAT Tutor

The moral of the story is that the SHSAT is like musical chairs, and if you do not choose your first choice wisely, you might not wind up with a seat!

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