Choosing a Jersey City High School: A Roadmap for Parents and Students

March 10, 2016 Brigid D'Souza

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Families in Jersey City have a diverse set of choices when it comes to high schools. In total, there are 19 high schools, comprised of nine local public, two local county, two public charter, and six private schools. Some of these schools are open to all Jersey City eighth graders. Others require a student to apply and be accepted. These schools have a selection process based on criteria such as grade point average (GPA), standardized test scores, and/or other admission factors, and some of the schools require a lottery process.

We weren’t able to find one central place online where you could find information about and compare the different high schools in Jersey City. So we did it for you! We have researched and listed the following information: schools name and addresses, overview of school type and programs offer, links to school websites for more detailed info (where available), NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) performance rankings (for public schools), admission requirements, application deadlines, and links to applications that are available online. We hope that this article will be a useful tool in helping local families sort though the information needed when looking at prospective high schools in our area and that it aids them in navigating their choice for their children.

Did we miss something? Is there is something useful you’d like us to add? Let us know in the comments section.

The Local Public High Schools

Jersey City Public Schools offer eight high schools and one alternative program aimed at high school students at risk of not graduating. Students must reside in Jersey City to attend these schools.

Comprehensive High Schools with Small Learning Communities

Jersey City has four “zoned” high schools, meaning students are automatically assigned to one of these schools based on their home address. The four “zoned” high schools in Jersey City include: James J. Ferris High School, Lincoln High School, Snyder High School and William Dickinson High School. Students may, however, apply to attend any high school outside of their home zone. Each of these comprehensive high schools serve students in grades 9 through 12 and they offer a “small learning community or SLC” which is a learning track comprised of electives that the students take in addition to the state-mandated curriculum. Students must apply to the SLC at each of the high schools in advance to be eligible to attend.

Smaller Population High Schools

Liberty High and Innovation High are smaller alternatives to the four “zoned” high schools listed above.

  • Innovation High School (239 Bergen Ave.) is a college preparatory, STEAM-focused school and each grade is limited to a maximum of 100 students. “STEAM” stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Innovation High School has a partnership with New Jersey City University that includes opportunities to take courses on the NJCU campus. The school was formed two years ago and currently has a freshman and sophomore class.
  • Liberty High School (299 Sip Ave.) serves an average population of 200 students across grades 9 through 12. This smaller environment sets it apart from the other high schools. Liberty H.S. outperforms 71% of schools statewide. This school’s NJDOE academic performance rating is high in comparison to schools across the state.  An interview is required in addition to the regular application process.

Application process for Comprehensive Schools SLC tracks, Liberty H.S. and Innovation H.S.:

Each year, late November to early December, the school district hosts a Higher Initiative Project (“HIP”) Fair which gives students and parents an opportunity get applications and to meet with and learn from faculty and staff from all the schools listed above. Eighth grade classes are usually sent home with applications in November/December. For more information and to get an application families can contact their children’s current guidance councilor or can contact the JCBOE at 201.915.6000.

To apply, students fill out an application and list their top two choices from the SLC tracks, Innovation High, or Liberty High School. The applications allows students to rank their school preferences. Students must submit their applications by mid-January.

Efforts are made by the school district to match students with their respective first-ranked school of choice. Where demand for a SLC exceeds allowable spots, students are matched with their second school of choice. If students first and second school of choice is at capacity then they are matched back to their home zoned high school. Innovation High School is subject to a lottery if demand exceeds allowable spots.

Honors/College Prep High Schools

Jersey City Public Schools offers two honors-track, college preparatory high schools. These schools require the PSAT as a criteria for admission.

  • Infinity Institute (193 Old Bergen Rd.) serves students in grades 6 through 12. Infinity eighth graders must apply with their peers throughout the district to continue into ninth grade. Infinity Institute outperforms 100% of schools statewide. This school’s NJDOE academic performance rating is very high in comparison to schools across the state. Applicants are ranked based on criteria such as PSAT score, personal essays, recommendations from the eighth grader’s school officials, extracurricular activities, and grammar school grades. In addition, to ensure diversity, the school selects an equal number of top-ranked students who identify on the application as African American, Asian, Hispanic, and “Other,” which includes White, Native American, and Pacific Islander. Applications are due in September.
  • McNair Academic High School (123 Coles St.) serves students in grades 9 through 12. McNair H.S. outperforms 100% of schools statewide. This school’s NJDOE academic performance rating is very high in comparison to schools across the state. Like Infinity, McNair uses a ranking system and it also ensures equal acceptances of top-ranked students from the African American, Asian, Hispanic, and “other” communities.

For both schools, applications are due in September, prior to the taking of the PSAT test which occurs in October.

Renaissance Institute – An Opportunity for At-Risk Students

  • Renaissance Institute (70 Bright St.) is not a school, but rather a program aimed at students in grades 9 through 12 who are at risk of not graduating on time due to absenteeism, suspension, or other factors. Renaissance serves approximately 60 students across all four grades. The program offers personalized support and individual learning plans for students. Students are enrolled in one of the four comprehensive high schools listed above and eligible to participate in extracurricular activities at their home schools, but they take their coursework at Renaissance. To apply, students or parents should speak with the current guidance counselor or contact Renaissance Institute directly. Admission is based on an interview process and occurs on a rolling basis throughout the year.

County Public High Schools

County public high schools are open to all qualifying students in Hudson County, including Jersey City. The Hudson County Schools of Technology serve students in grades 9 through 12 and include County Prep High School, High Tech High School, and KAS Prep.

  • County Prep High School (525 Montgomery St.) offers both traditional college prep classes as well as technical classes such as Audio/Visual Production, Child Care Services, and TV Production/Digital. County Prep H.S. outperforms 36% of schools statewide. This school’s NJDOE academic performance rating significantly lags in comparison to schools across the state.  Admission is based on a student’s transcript from grades 5 through 7, the first marking period of grade 8, standardized tests from grades 5 through 7, and other criteria. Applications are generally available online beginning September and are due in November. An admissions team reviews the application and students are notified in February if they have been accepted.
  • High Tech High School (2000 85th St., North Bergen) offers vocational studies in Architecture and Design, Performing Arts, Science Lab Technologies, and Technology and Visual Arts. High Tech H.S. outperforms 97% of schools statewide. This school’s NJDOE academic performance rating is very high in comparison to schools across the state.  Each year only 75 boys and 75 girls are admitted. Because it is a county school, students are admitted partially based on where they reside, to ensure the school reflects the make-up of Hudson County and its 11 municipalities. Population factors aside, students are admitted based on the quality of their applications, standardized test scores, grades, and attendance records. To apply, students must submit an application and ensure their eighth grade guidance counselor submits required documentation to High Tech H.S. by late November. High Tech H.S. releases the roster of incoming students in early February. Additionally, eighth grade performing arts applicants must sign up for a one-day audition and interview with the teacher of their choice (depending on program). Applications for auditions are due in November.
  • KAS Prep High School (2000 85th St., North Bergen) offers an alternative high school program. The KAS (Knowledge & Advanced Skills) Prep Program is aimed at Hudson County students 16 and older that are at risk of failing out of school or that have recently dropped out. KAS Prep H.S. outperforms 3% of schools statewide. This school’s NJDOE academic performance rating significantly lags in comparison to schools across the state. In order for a student to be eligible for the KAS Prep Alternative Education Program, the students referring school must obtain and submit the KAS Prep Alternative Education Program application for admission by April 30 for the Fall Semester or by December 15 for the Spring Semester. A copy of the prospective student’s transcript indicating all prior high school course work, test scores, Immunization health records, Child Study Team Records and NJ Smart ID information must accompany the application. Accepted candidates will be invited to come to the school for an interview. A parent/guardian must accompany the prospective student to the interview. A secondary interview may be required.

Public Charter High Schools

Charter schools are public schools administered independently of the Jersey City school district. Once a schools charter is approved and established, the school is governed by a Board of Trustees as a public agent authorized by the State Board of Education. Because charter schools are public, they are both free and open to all applicants. There are no admissions tests. Where the number of applicants exceeds the available enrollment spots, a lottery process is used to determine admission.

  • Great Futures Charter High School for the Health Sciences (225 Morris Blvd.) is a health care-focused school run by The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County. The 4-year curriculum provides students with a post-secondary education and workforce readiness in certified health related professions. Applications are due in January.
  • METS Charter High School (211 Sherman Ave.) is a STEM-focused, college preparatory school. “STEM” stands for science, technology, and mathematics. The school serves students in grades 6 through 12. METS has a program with Hudson County Community College and offers college-level courses (and accompanying credits) through that school in its students’ junior and senior years. The school lottery is in January, applications are accepted throughout the year and are due before the lottery.
  • University Academy Charter High School (275 West Side Ave.) is a “service-learning” themed school, with a substantial journalism program. It is affiliated with New Jersey City University (NJCU). Graduates who hold a 3.2 GPA or higher and are accepted to NJCU are eligible to receive a full 4-year scholarship to NJCU. Admission timeline can be found on the school website. The school lottery is in January, applications are due in early December.

Private Catholic High Schools

Private schools operate independently from Jersey City public schools. They generally require fees to attend, though financial aid options are available. All applicants are required to take the Cooperative Admissions Examination (COOP), a standardized test administered by the Archdiocese each November. The purpose of the test is to provide standard assessments for students seeking admission to Catholic high schools in Jersey City. All the high schools listed below have admission due dates from late-November to mid-December, which are timed to follow the taking of the COOP exam. Contact the schools directly for pricing and financial aid related information.

  • Hudson Catholic Regional High School (790 Bergen Ave) is a co-ed, college preparatory, Catholic high school. Admission timeline can be found on the school website. Applicants must submit an online application by early December.
  • Marist High School (1241 Kennedy Blvd., Bayonne) is a co-ed, college preparatory, Catholic high school. Three academic tracks are offered: Advanced Placement, Honors, and College Preparatory. Admission timeline can be found on the school website. Students must submit an application, which includes portions to be filled out by the students’ grammar school. Applications are due in early December.
  • Saint Anthony’s High School (175 8th St.) is a co-ed, college preparatory, Catholic high school. Transcripts and related student records from grades 6 through 8 must be submitted by the student’s grammar school. Admission timeline can be found on the school website. Applications must be submitted by early December.
  • Saint Dominic’s Academy (2572 Kennedy Blvd.) is an all-girls, college preparatory, Catholic high school. Once applicants’ admissions records (application, transcripts) are approved for initial selection, mandatory interviews are scheduled. Admission timeline can be found on the school website. Applications must be submitted no later than December 1 for the following academic year.
  • Saint Peter’s Prep (144 Grand St.) is an all-boys, college preparatory, Jesuit high school. Transcripts and related student records from grades 6 through 8 must be submitted by the student’s grammar school along with a teacher recommendation. Admission timeline can be found on the school website. Applications are due in late November.

Jersey City High School Application Dates and Profiles

For more information on Jersey City Public Schools, visit jcboe.org.

Catherine Hecht and Dan Levin contributed to this article. File photo © Jersey City Independent

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