THE BLOG
04/12/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Are You in the "High School Limbo Lounge"?

Parents out there whose kids did not make the 'first round' because their kids did not get into a specialized high school are now in this special place known only to New York City parents: "The High School Hell Limbo Lounge."

The tone will be set for this waiting period depending on where your child is currently in school. For kids who are in schools where the majority of kids get into specialized high schools, it will obviously be particularly painful; for those where this is a rarity, less so.

But to understand what I am talking about and for those who will need to help their kids apply for high schools in the somewhat near future, a bit of info about this fairly complicated process.

It goes something like this: There are three basic categories of high schools. Although there are the specialized and non-specialized schools, the specialized high schools also have two categories: One includes those academic elite institutions you have heard of, like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science. These schools require obtaining a particular score on the Specialized High School Test. Your kid could have basically stayed home from school all of 7th grade, but if they get a high enough score to make one of the seats for these schools, they are in.

The second category of specialized high schools is symbolized by LaGuardia. This is a performing arts and art school and requires auditions, an academic average of 85, and good attendance record.

The third category is for the assorted non-specialized high schools that you need to rank in order of preference for your child. There are many of these schools, and you really want to know what they are like, as whichever one your kid gets into, that is where they go.

Needless to say, a lot of touring, preparing, and work goes into the fall semester of the 8th grade year. Lots of work for you as the parent. (Some consider it like a part time job.) For your kid, their work takes place in the 7th grade, as these are the grades and the average that is considered for all but the academic specialized high schools.

The limbo state of waiting that is occurring as I write started late last week, when the acceptances to the specialized high schools went out. If a kid got a seat in one of these schools, they also find out where they got a seat in the non-specialized high school that they ranked. This week they get to pick where they want to go.

It can be amazing for some families; congratulations and good wishes all around, and hell for others. You can only imagine when your child doesn't get into the school they were dying to, and needing to hear all their friends congratulating each other while they still won't find out until the end of March which non-specialized high school they got ranked at. This is where you really get to feel proud of your kid as you see them working hard to be happy with their friends, and congratulating them, while they are dying inside.

Depending on the current school your child is at, the pain will be better or worse. Of course if more kids than not did get seats now and are getting to pick which school they want, it really can be awful. You can only imagine what it could be like being surrounded by self congratulatory children.

But the parents can be worse. I heard of a school whose parents actually had a party to congratulate each other on the kids' acceptances; this before kids had found out yet where they are going, as they need to wait for this 'second round' in late March.

Hey parents, can we get a grip? We know you are proud of your kids, and have every right to be, but didn't you want to teach your kids ethics? Morality? Does wanting to 'get ahead' need to cancel out a little plain old sensitivity or simple manners?

If you are in that limbo lounge of high school hell, it does end. Your child will get into high school, and most likely land up in a place that is just right for them.

Hang in there. Remember why you didn't want to move to the burbs. This is the NYC tax.

Yeah, public schools!

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