As students, families and educators began the arduous path to high school this year, Chalkbeat listened in.

“Every high school figures out some way to limit their population” explained Eric Nadelstern, a professor at Teacher’s College. New York’s school system consists of over 400 high schools, which are populated through the city’s high school choice process. In theory, the process allows students to rank their top 12 schools, and makes all schools available to any student regardless of where they live.

At best, the high school admissions process in New York is a labyrinth of policies and paperwork. In some schools, dozens of students compete for one seat. In other cases, schools that have “unscreened” admissions policies use surveys that could help them filter students during the application process. Even more alarming: Many schools ignore the Department of Education-mandated policy of priority enrollment for students who attend high school fairs and open houses.

Here are a few of the biggest obstacles facing low-income students in high school admissions.

Students at the citywide high school fair at Brooklyn Technical High School.
PHOTO CREDIT: Monica Disare

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