Emily Zhang

Age: 14
Middle School: NYC Lab Middle School
High School: Stuyvesant High School

Emily Z_04A typical student in a specialized high school is probably a lot like Emily Zhang —  an incoming freshman who took test preparation classes and went to an excellent middle school.

Bright, dedicated and soft-spoken, Emily has wanted to attend Stuyvesant High School for as long as she can remember. Her mother is a biostatistician and associate professor at the Weill Cornell Medicine — but her parents say it was Emily’s personal ambition that drove her to apply for the elite specialized school.

She took approximately four hours per week of preparation classes before taking the SHSAT, the specialized high school admissions test required only for the city’s nine elite high schools. These classes occurred mostly on Sundays during the fall semester of her 8th grade year. However, she also took up to 100 hours of preparation over the summer, and studied on her own after school. The individual sessions cost upwards of $10 per hour, but they seemed to pay off: Emily said the test itself was quite easy.

Her middle school, the NYC Lab Middle School, is consistently ranked as a top-performing middle school– in 2012, the school placed second statewide in Math and Language Arts scores. The Lab website has a landing page for parents of seventh graders curious about high school admissions. The “High School Placement” page says guidance counselors begin meeting with parents of 7th graders in June to prepare them for the upcoming admissions process.

Emily got into a two other highly regarded high schools, including Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, and the Baruch College Campus High School But her acceptance into Stuyvesant was the realization of a long-held dream, and she didn’t hesitate when she needed to make her choice.

She attended the Stuyvesant Spring Feast, where she said she was looking forward to the school’s clubs and extracurriculars. She is also excited to take class from Stuyvesant teachers, whom she was told hold engaging and rigorous classes.

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