The elementary admissions process in New York City is utterly gruelling, as
evidenced by new kindergarten admissions workshops that have popped up around town.
But among exemplary schools, one stands out as the gold-standard of top public elementary schools: Hunter College Elementary School.
The irony that Hunter has the word “college” in its name shouldn’t escape you. Hunter’s level of exclusivity tops even that of Harvard University — but Hunter evaluates 4-year-olds instead of high school seniors.
Hunter College Elementary is a K-6 school that is publicly funded and serves intellectually gifted students. It is administered by Hunter College, a college of the City University of New York.
The only entry point for Hunter is kindergarten. This means that if you get rejected the first time, you can’t apply to the elementary school again. At Harvard there is always the option to transfer.
Each year, Hunter chooses 25 girls and 25 boys from all of Manhattan to be admitted to its incoming kindergarten class, according to its website. They’re hand-selected from a pool of about 2,500 applicants, according to the website Inside Schools. To put that into perspective, that makes the acceptance rate for Hunter 2%. Harvard’s undergraduate acceptance rate for 2015 was 6.2%.
Prospective Hunter students must first take a Stanford — Binet IQ test administered in a formal setting. The school informs parents that they should not prep their children for testing and that they will be disqualified if there’s evidence they prepared a child for the exam.
The pool of students is then whittled down to 250 of the children with the highest scores.
The remaining applicants are brought in for an evaluation round where they are observed individually interacting with peers and one-on-one with teachers. The Admissions Selections Committee chooses kids without knowing their names or other identifying factors.
For comparison’s sake, here is the side-by-side application requirements of Hunter Elementary and Harvard University.
Hunter is unbelievably difficult to get into for a reason. It has a reputation for providing an amazing learning experience to gifted students — all free of tuition charges. And Hunter College High School has an impressive list of notable alumni including Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.
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