Matching Your Top Choice Middle School

It's not you - It's them


Are you the parent of a 5th grader?

If so, you probably just completed the process of ranking preferred middle schools. And if you're like many other 5th grade parents, you spent last month confused - trying to figuring out the best strategy to get your child into their (or your) top choice school.

After weeks of thinking about the process, and especially after watching this video that explains the system (as applied to matching med schools grads to residencies), I've come to a conclusion: 

It's not about you - It's really all about them.

In brief, who the school wants matters much more than what you want.

The good news is you can follow the official DOE advice - rank the schools in your order of preference. This should work. 

Why does this work? Because where you child is admitted is primarily determined by where the schools ranked him or her, not where he or she ranked them. 

For example, if a school has 80 open seats in their classes, and your child is ranked by that school from 1-80, they will get into that school. However, if that same school ranked your child 150, you have to wait to see if 70 of the students ranked ahead of your child really wanted to go somewhere else.

But that's fine... you still want to rank your top choice school first. 

The waiting is only virtual as the DOE's computer tentatively places your child at their first choice school, then sees if that school fills up with first choice picks. If it fills up, your child is bumped from their tentative placement and the DOE tries to place your child at their second choice school... and on and on through your list. But the key here is - even if your child ranked a school second, or third or fifth, they can still get a seat at that school, if the school ranked them above other students, even students who ranked that school first.

Ultimately your only input is preference, so you need to make that count - by letting the DOE know which schools you actually prefer - so they can try to place your child there first. And if your child doesn't get into a school they wanted, it will only be because the school filled their classes with children they wanted more,as expressed by ranking those children higher.

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