Alex McCord

The New York City school system is no picnic!

on Mar 18, 2008

Schools, schools and more schools. Sometimes it's enough to make you want to home school. Whether it's public or private, getting your child into a good school is a blood sport here in New York. The application process would baffle most thinking people; what sort of essay do you write about a toddler? Once your child's interview or playgroup is over, all the hedge fund cash in the world and a letter from the mayor won't grease the wheels. First on the list are children of teachers and alums, next are siblings and finally new applicants like us. It's then down to age and gender -- 2 years 10 months is light years away from 3 years 1 month according to the admissions directors, and they usually want an equal mix of boys and girls.

Here's an abbreviated timeline. We started researching schools shortly after François was born, and applied to three schools when he was 2 1/2 years old. (Also, as a precaution in the event of our deaths, we registered him at Simon's high school in Australia, where, unless registration is done at birth, entry isn't even guaranteed). He was waitlisted at all of them. Later that year during an incidental conversation with another school's Admissions Director, we heard that there was one spot for a 3 year old boy available in a great preschool we hadn't applied to, and they were willing to make a slight exception to allow in our (2 years 10 month old) son. Simon and I literally dropped everything and raced over to the school with our checkbook, filled out the application and enrolled him on the spot. His initial preschool experience came down to a well-timed phone call!