• 19 May 2024
An Inside Look at NYC School Admissions: The First Steps

An Inside Look at NYC School Admissions: The First Steps

Jun 24, 2018

On May 22nd, Clark attended “Sip and Learn: High School Admissions” hosted by New York admissions expert Whitney Shashou of Admit NY and Private Prep NYC partner Zack Gilman, where we got the inside scoop on how to navigate the ever-competitive, complex process that is school admissions.

The school admissions process is intense. Whether seeking entrance into a high school, middle school, or even nursery or kindergarten, students are expected to partake in a competitive, multi-step application process to secure a spot in their ideal school.

From the very first steps of researching potential schools to the finish line of accepting a placement offer, parents and their children need to continuously stay organized, prepared, and focused.

Focus On Fit Over Reputation

Before writing essays or going on tours, Whitney stresses that parents and their children first need to establish the right mindset.

The ultimate goal of the admissions process is to ensure that a student is paired with the school that will support them, challenge them, and lead them to reach their highest levels of success. In Whitney’s words, “think of school admissions like dating; it’s about finding a mutual best fit, not the partner with the most clout or status.” The right school isn’t always on a Top 10 list or regarded as the most prestigious, but that shouldn’t belittle its potential for a student. Pursuing a school purely for its reputation means that students may miss out on one that would have enabled them to more greatly flourish and thrive. Rather, families should seek out schools that provide a student with the best fit, emotionally, socially, and academically. Fit, above all else, is key in ensuring a student’s long-term success.

Apply to No More Than 5 Schools

Once expectations are set, the first tangible step in the admission process is list building. Don’t be fooled into believing that this is optional – creating a small, thorough list of schools is critical to optimizing applications. Whitney suggests starting with seven to ten schools, and by the beginning of the school year, narrowing that list down to three to five.


First, admission fatigue is real, and can become an obstacle in a student’s chances of being accepted to the right school. A student worn out from too many essays, tours, and interviews may end up sacrificing their perfect fit for one that they came in contact with earlier.

Second, the process is time consuming for everyone, and dedicating time and energy to more than five schools is sure to overwhelm. The younger the student, the more involved parents must be, which may not always be possible with busy schedules. In addition, most applications require tours and interviews. A long list can mean pulling students out of school too often.

Finally, and most importantly, Whitney and Zack argue that it’s rare for a student to be a fit for more than five schools. A narrowed list equates to proper research, effective self-evaluation, and thoughtfulness.

How Do I Do It?

With so many options available, students and their parents need to understand how to effectively create their list. From initial research, to word-of-mouth recommendations, to in-person observations of a school’s culture, to meeting with an educational consultant, there are several ways families can evaluate opportunities.

We’ll break down the must-dos, as recommended by Whitney and Zack, in the next installment of our three-part School Admissions series.

A mission as important as finding the right school for your child can feel overwhelming, and sometimes even endless. Having a clear understanding of how and where to begin will help clear the path of the admission process, giving both parents and children a strong starting point, and a little bit of much needed peace of mind along the way.

Whitney Shashou and Admit NY

As founder and president of Admit NY, Whitney uses her expertise to facilitate the school admissions process, nursery through high school, helping families feel supported, heard, and nurtured during a time that can often feel stressful, daunting, and overwhelming. Whitney and her team provide full-time, targeted, professional support, ensuring each family is applying to their best fit schools and submitting applications that make the most compelling case for acceptance.

Zack Gilman and Private Prep NYC

An expert in the field of tutoring, Zack Gilman specializes in understanding the landscape and specific culture and needs of each school in NYC. Private Prep works with families, offering test prep services, academic support, and college admissions support.