Secondary School Placement

Secondary School Placement

Harlem Academy works with each student and his or her family to facilitate a successful transition from Harlem Academy to the rigorous secondary school that best suits the individual student.


The secondary school placement process is overwhelming, and students and parents have many questions: What are the different school types and advantages of each? How do you apply? Which schools are realistic choices? What are the costs?

Starting in sixth grade, we hold informational and working sessions with students and families to introduce different choices and explain the application process. We then provide ongoing support as students navigate the application, financial aid, testing, essay writing, and interview processes. For eighth-graders, our secondary school placement coordinator holds drop-in sessions every Saturday from September through mid-November to support students and families with financial aid and applications, in addition to regular appointments throughout the week.


All students visit a boarding school in sixth grade. In eighth grade, our team provides transportation and accompanies eighth-graders to boarding school tours and interviews.


We are open with students regarding both their current performance and how that relates to the achievement needed to access different secondary school opportunities. This begins in sixth grade, when students still have time to make strong decisions toward realizing their goals. Students also complete an annual self-reflection related to their secondary school preferences and performance toward their goals.


In seventh grade, all students take a benchmark SSAT to help determine academic skills that may need extra work and develop an initial list of target schools. During their eighth-grade year, standardized entrance exam preparation is provided by our teachers during our skills course and on Saturdays in the fall. All students receive access to an online testing program and curriculum that provides them and their teachers with real-time feedback and resources.


In seventh grade, students work with a trained volunteer and their advisor for practice interviews. In eighth grade, students prepare for interviews through our skills course, as well as with trained volunteers who conduct practice sessions and provide constructive feedback using a detailed rubric.


Eighth-graders work with their English teacher throughout the fall to hone their personal statements.