NEW YORK — The new school year has only just begun, but for eighth graders it's already time to start thinking about high school.
Students who hope to test into one of the city's elite specialized high schools must register soon for admissions exams and auditions. This weekend, the city will hold the fall's first high school fairs to help students explore their many options.
Eighth graders can apply to any of the more than 400 high schools in the five boroughs, and they are allowed to list up to 12 choices on their application — which can easily overwhelm those who are just starting their search.
Options range from large campuses of more than 2,500 students who are selected by lottery, to intimate schools of just a few hundred students who are selected by test scores.
The Department of Education recommends researching the schools through the online 2012-13 High School Directory and attending informational fairs, including the Citywide High School Fair at Brooklyn Technical High School Sept. 29 and 30. Each borough will also hold its own high school fair Oct. 13 and 14.
Dozens of schools will have tables at the fairs, where current teachers, guidance counselors, parents and students will be on hand to answer questions.
The DOE suggests asking about the school's culture, the academic offerings, the extracurricular activities and any special programs for freshmen. Students may also want to consider the school's location and their potential commute.
The school's admissions process is also a factor. The city's nine specialized high schools require prospective students to take a dedicated admissions test this fall — or, in the case of LaGuardia High School, audition for a spot — while other schools base admissions decisions on seventh-grade standardized test scores, attendance records or geographical preferences.
Registration for the Specialized High School Admissions Test runs through Oct. 10. The test is required for admission to Bronx High School of Science, The Brooklyn Latin School, Brooklyn Technical High School, High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College, High School of American Studies at Lehman College, Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, Staten Island Technical High School and Stuyvesant High School.
For LaGuardia High School, the deadline to request an audition is Oct. 26.
All eighth graders must submit a high school application ranking their choices by Dec. 3.
The Citywide High School Fair will be held at Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place, Sept. 29 and 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information sessions on both days include an overview of the high school admissions process at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., details on auditioning for high school arts programs at noon and an explanation of the Specialized High School Admissions Test at 1 p.m.