The issue with the NYC high school choice is not like with the middle schools: there are indeed many choices and there are certainly many DIFFERENT types of schools and programs. That said, it is still an incredible and difficult process, one which trips up nearly ALL the parents who themselves did not go to school in New York or even in the USA. Presumably, at the various 'Fairs' and High School "Info Sessions", much is explained to these parents. In reality, those of us who already have a clue about how the entire high school admissions process is weighted toward high performing students just go about our day without the 'help'.. and those parents of approximately 50% of the city youth entering 9th grade just hope they do it correctly.
More and more, this is the case: not only with Zoned High Schools becoming a thing of the distant past, but also with increasing numbers of well tutored 8th grade students arriving for tests at the various schools.. more students with less stellar records find themselves haphazardly putting schools on their 'ranking list'...And most shockingly: many many guidance counselors in the middle schools know next to NOTHING about the various schools and sorts of requirements -- beyond what the High School Book says, that is. Such a lack on the part of schools to support students and their high school choices has a detrimental effect on students at risk and in need of supports.
NO ONE I speak to outside the city even believes this is how it is done in New York. They just listen incredulously to the tales from our schools and cannot fathom how it could possibly be this crazy!
So: there are many choices, but MANY of the students are simply eliminated from those choices before they are even in middle school. Then, with the middle school 'choice' issue so poorly managed (so few good choices for such a large population of students), that number of unprepared 8th grade students swells. And the minority of students whose parents have figured it out, well those students have been tutored, prepped for auditions, had portfolios of work designed and compiled; THOSE students get their top 'choices'..while the vast majority just crosses their young fingers and hopes it works out for the best... is this the best the Mayor and the team at Tweed he put together can offer? I think NOT.