It is a very busy time of the school year for the 8th graders. The first semester of the 8th grade year is when they begin in full force the high school selection process. Many of the students are going to high school open houses, doing shadow visits, and starting to decide on which high school they would like to attend next year. The students will end up at a wide variety of schools -- locally in the East Bay, San Francisco, the East Coast and abroad, see our placement history to learn more.
This is also a time when the Admission Directors from the local private schools present to the students at EB. This past week, College Preparatory School, International High School, and Lick-Wilmerding High School presented to the students. These presentations are open to all middle school students but mostly 7th and 8th graders attend. Though the public high schools do not come to EB to present due to only being able to enroll students from within their districts, they do hold information nights at their schools. Berkeley High School, which attracts many EB students due to its International Baccalaureate diploma, will hold an information night on Wednesday, November 14, and Oakland Technical High School will have one on Thursday, November 1.
"I'm not going to die!"
For those students who do apply for admission at a private high school, the application process is quite intense and involves completing an application for each school where they apply, writing at least one 500 word essay (at most schools), interviewing and taking a 3-hour long admission test. In addition, the 7th grade report card and the grades from the first semester of the 8th grade year are used in the admission decision. The students also must get recommendations from the English, Math and French teachers, and the Counselor.
Choosing the right high school can be a challenge and a bit daunting at times, but things come together as the students learn more about the various high schools and start to narrow down their choices. As 8th grader Nheletie Donovan stated when talking about the high school process: "I felt it was going to be a lot harder than it is." Some of her stress was reduced after she learned International High School was only going to require a 15 minute writing sample (which is done on the day of the interview) instead of a full essay. After attending high school tours at College Preparatory School, International High School, and Berkeley High School, Nheletie found a high school where things just "clicked" for her. This gave Nheletie some additional relief. She humorously added "I realized I wasn't going to die [going through this process]."
Nheletie's path to finding a high school that felt right, coincides with Alum Teddy Lee's experience. Teddy is a freshman at The Athenian School, which was his first choice high school to attend. His advice for 8th graders is: "Go with gut, not with your friends." He said that when he shadowed at Athenian as an 8th grader last year: "Something just clicked, and I kind of felt at home at Athenian."
Shadow visits are key
Eighth grader Meara McCarthy, who is looking at several private high school options, expressed how important the shadow visit is in learning about a school. She states: "To really understand a school, you have to go on a shadow day and be with the students. You should ask them about the programs. I got to meet with the teachers and see how open and inclusive the students are."
For 8th grader Mauro Green, who has decided that he wants to attend a public school and pursue an International Baccalaureate Diploma at Berkeley High School, the process has been fairly straight forward for him. As he states: "I know my public high school is very good, so I am not stressed." Mauro's older brother just graduated from Berkeley High School, so he is familiar with the school and has an idea of what to expect.
Regardless of where the students end up, they will have gone through a process that allowed them to thoroughly explore the high schools and find the best fit one for them. EB families and students will have a chance to hear from EB alumni and their experience at the various high schools when they come to EB in the spring to present at the Alumni High School Night on Wednesday, April 3, 2019.