college admissions consultant high school

The Dirty Little Secret Other Parents Don’t Want You to Know…Until it’s Too Late!

On a beautiful hot summer day at an Ivy League university, some parents of incoming freshmen are at a garden reception to welcome them and their students to the school. There are cheese and crackers, freshly baked cookies and lemonade, and the parents are catching their breath after moving their kids into their dorms.

The topic of conversation between the parents soon become how many schools the kids applied to and how they were accepted to this top Ivy League school. It turned out that both students took advantage of admissions consulting services.

The dirty little secret of Ivy League parents is that many of them use admissions consultants, but they won’t let you know until their kids are already attending the school of their choice. When their kids are applying, they will not likely let you know for fear of competition. It is after their kids are attending the schools that they start trading notes. Ivy week came and went, and there were many tears from parents and kids who didn’t get in. What went wrong? You didn’t know what you were doing!

I recently received this mailing from Solomon Admissions showing the 2020-2021 average acceptance rates of students to top schools with and without Solomon’s consulting:

As you can see from the above, there is definitely an advantage to hiring a consultant. A consultant will guide the student throughout the admissions process. The schools are looking for passion and the consultant can help find that passion and make the student’s application be the best it can be.

One parent we interviewed paid over $10,000 to Solomon for their services. Was he happy with the results? Well, his kid didn’t get into Harvard (the student didn’t apply). However, the student did get into one of the Ivy League universities listed in Solomon’s mailing. The parent’s only regret is that Solomon did not get involved sooner. If Solomon had started guiding the student during her freshman year in high school, she would not have wasted time on less important things like science Olympiad, which she was not passionate about, and instead focused on her passion, which was sports and fitness. But to tell you the truth, how can normal teenagers be expected to know what their passion is? It’s all a crapshoot anyway. The college consultant just makes your student sound better than the rest. And that is the dirty truth no one wants you to know until their kids get into the top schools.

high school

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. The two things you must do to help your kid get into an Ivy are: hire a professional college coach and spend money on tutoring. The competition is so stiff nowadays, you need a strategy for applying to schools. Even if schools don’t require SAT scores, tutoring is key to scoring high grades in class.

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!

college high school

How to Get Into Stuyvesant High School

Mom Who Attended Stuyvesant Shares How Her Kid Also Passed the SHSAT:

Stuyvesant High School is a top feeder school to Harvard. In fact, according to The Harvard Crimson, one out of every twenty Harvard freshmen attended one of the following seven high schools most represented in the class of 2017: Boston Latin, Phillips Academy in Andover, Stuyvesant High School, Noble and Greenough School, Phillips Exeter Academy, Trinity School in New York City, and Lexington High School. If you are thinking of attending Stuyvesant High School, you probably live in or are thinking of moving to New York City. The two schools that are Harvard feeder schools that are located in New York are Trinity School and Stuyvesant. Trinity costs around $60,000 per year and Stuyvesant is free. Yes, Trinity is wonderful if you can afford it, but there is something to be said for a free education. Plus, Stuyvesant is an entire building of top-notch learning: an entire floor dedicated to math, another floor dedicated to biology, and an Olympic-sized pool.

Stuyvesant High School made public the students from 2016-2019 of the number of kids who attended the Ivy+ schools (Ivies, UChicago, Stanford, MIT) for 2016 to 2019:

Cornell – 193
UChicago – 100
MIT – 42
Harvard – 41
Yale – 35
Princeton – 34
Columbia – 16
Penn between 15 to 23
Brown between 9 to 21
Dartmouth between 8 to 16
Stanford  between 3 to 15

Total 496 to 536 for four years

That’s 124 to 134 per year 

About 842 seniors in Class of 2019

So 14.7% to 15.9% each year to Ivy+ (source

However, the numbers above are pretty darn good for a free public school education! 

Now compare Phillips Academy in Andover (2017 to 2020)…

UChicago – 55

Harvard – 48

Yale – 43

Cornell – 36

Penn – 34

Columbia – 32

MIT – 30 

Brown – 29

Stanford – 27

Princeton – 26

Dartmouth – 19

Total 379 for four years

That’s about 94.75 per year

About 294 seniors in Class of 2020

So about 32.2% each year go to Ivy+(source

I am especially qualified to teach you how to get into Stuyvesant because not only did I graduate from Stuy, my child also scored high enough on the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) to get in there. To attend Stuyvesant and other specialized high schools in New York City, you have to pass the SHSAT. If you are a parent who has dreams of your child attending Stuyvesant someday, then start with workbooks that you can order from Amazon for math and English. Teach your child to read by age 3 with Hooked on Phonics. Yes, three-year-olds can learn to read if you just sit there with them and teach them.

Also, Sudoku puzzles are excellent for training the brain. At least two years before the test, send your child to group tutoring classes such as Kaplan, and if economically feasible, hire private tutors. However, if money is an issue, then just order some SHSAT workbooks and have your child do the problems in the book. Active learning (doing problems and looking up the answers) is key. There are also Official SHSAT Handbooks with the real tests, which you can also have your child practice as if she were taking the actual exam. The goal is to have thousands of questions answered under your belt so the answers pop out at you during the test. Yes, your brain works in mysterious ways when you train it right.

Also, visit Stuyvesant and have your child see what is possible.  Let your child imagine swimming in the beautiful Olympic pool.  Manifest your destiny, work hard, and you will attend the school of your choice.

Since Stuyvesant has the highest cut-off score of all the specialized high schools, consider Staten Island Technical High School, Bronx High School of Sciences or Brooklyn Technical High School. The aforementioned schools are also top schools in boroughs other than Manhattan, and although not necessarily feeder schools to the Ivy League, send plenty of students to the Ivies. Rest assured that your child will get a great education for the bargain price of free. This allows you to save money for other things, such as tutoring, summer programs, extra-curricular activities, college tuition, etc.

When I studied for the SHSAT many decades ago, I did not use a tutor. However, nowadays, almost everyone hires tutors, so you don't want to miss out. I found Kenny Tan on Wyzant, and contacted him immediately. Kenny tutored my daughter for the SHSAT and as a result, she scored high enough on the SHSAT to gain admission to Stuyvesant High School. My daughter became so good at math that she started to tutor students younger than her for one of her extra-curricular activities. She also achieved an almost perfect score on the SAT. I am happy to report that my kid was accepted into an Ivy League university recently.

I had the opportunity to speak to Kenny Tan recently and asked him what made his method so effective?

I am different from many tutors because I encourage students to use answer explanations to study their mistakes before each lesson. During the lesson, I check for complete understanding by asking students to explain why the answer choice they chose was incorrect and why a different answer choice was actually the correct answer. I then bridge any gaps in understanding that we identify. I believe that students haven't mastered a concept unless they can teach it correctly themselves. Students who self-prep or enroll in a group class are rarely given such a challenge. Therefore, the real value of a tutor is in ensuring students have correctly understood each concept before moving on to the next one.

Kenny Tan, tutor

Some of my favorite tips from Kenny about how to do well on the SHSAT:

  1. Use High Quality Material-- You can find all authentic SHSAT tests here. See the latest SHSAT test below, but be sure to save it for testing under real simulation: timed, in a classroom setting, after your student has sufficiently prepared.

2. Be Relentless in Learning from Your Mistakes. Yes, I agree with Kenny, and mistakes are necessary for you to learn. It was helpful to have Kenny explain what my daughter did wrong in a tutoring session and for her to learn from her mistakes.

Anyone interested in tutoring can schedule a consultation with Kenny Tan using this link.

Also, check out Kenny's website which contains a wealth of information on the SHSAT.

Kenny Tan, Tutor

What if your child does not score high enough to get into any of the specialized high schools? Consider moving to Great Neck, NY, with the #2 top school district in New York. Students in Great Neck South High School receive a stellar education and get admitted to Ivy League universities. Here is a renovated 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment for sale in the Great Neck South school district. See it before it gets sold!

Would you like more information about how to get into Stuyvesant High School? Subscribe to the Ivy League Mom newsletter for top tips:

*How to score high enough on the SHSAT to get into Stuyvesant High School, Staten Island Technical High School, Brooklyn Technical High School and the Bronx High School of Science.

*Which school should you select on the SHSAT form for the best chance of getting into a specialized high school?

*Is Stuyvesant High School always the best option?

*The best way to prep for the SHSAT.

*Questions and answers for top scores.

For all of the above and more, subscribe to the newsletter below.