For students that have choices, make the decision with the most information possible, and make the decision based on what you feel is the right choice for you.
Over the years I’ve talked with countless students about the high school selection process. Most often, students want to attend one of the eleven selective enrollment high schools (Brooks, Hancock, Jones, King, Lane, Lindblom, Northside, Payton, South Shore, Westinghouse, and Whitney Young). This is understandable given the prestige that comes with an invitation from one of these schools, and a testament to our city and our district that we have so many students that strive for success. Although Ogden International High School isn’t technically a ‘selective’ school, students have to meet our cut score. This year, students that ranked us as their top pick scored in the 72nd percentile on the NWEA (they scored higher than 72% of all students nationwide).
At Ogden, we want our students and their families to be dedicated to our IB programmes. Being an IB student is different, especially once you get to 11th grade. You have to know what you are getting yourself into as it requires a lot of dedication and hard work. The sweat and stress will be worth it in the end, because you will be more prepared for college than students in non-IB programs (read more about selective enrollment vs. IB here). If you aren’t coming to Ogden for our IB programmes, it might not be the best fit for you.
But selecting a high school requires consideration of many other factors, too. Below are some you might consider before making your choice.
Commute: If you can’t get to school on time, how will you succeed? If you plan to take public transportation, take the trip on the CTA before you pick your high school and ask yourself, will I be able to make the trip every school day for four years? Tardiness and absences have a significant effect on grades, test scores, and in general, your future success. If you don’t show up, you won’t succeed. This year we targeted our “marketing” to elementary schools that served neighborhoods that were along direct routes to Ogden, via the Blue line, or one of the major bus routes (Grand, Chicago, Ashland, or Halstead). Ogden is centrally located, but you still have to make sure your commute works for you.
Extra-curricular activities: This is what many of us fondly remember about high school because these tend to be our choice to join something we are interested in or even passionate about. Every school offers math, English, science, etc. But does the school offer the sport or club you want to join? If so, what are your chances of joining? In sports, ask about the odds of making the team, since some larger schools have highly competitive sports programs and not every student will make the team. Speaking of participation…
Opportunities: If the school is highly competitive, will you have the same opportunities to participate or even lead? Or will you become a small fish in a large pond? For some students, you’ll receive more opportunity at a slightly less competitive high school. This doesn’t mean you’re taking the easier route, it means you’re taking the smarter route.
The recent success of the Loyola basketball team is an example. In the end, those players made it to the Final Four despite selecting a college with a basketball program that was not well known, whereas many of their peers selected schools with better programs. In the end, the Loyola players received the opportunity to be on the team. They had to work hard and prove themselves, but that wouldn’t have happened without the opportunity to be on the team.
Diversity: How diverse do you want your high school to be? In a city like Chicago that has been historically segregated, for many students high school is the first opportunity they have to meet people that are different from themselves in race, class, language, culture, and religion. Knowing how to work with people who are different is a key skill in all careers.
Inclusion: Diversity is great, but is it valued, supported, and protected? Will you feel welcome? Will your classmates feel welcome?
Ultimately, don’t stress too much about your high school selection. Most students across our country, and around the world, do not have a choice to make. We are fortunate in Chicago that we have so many options to select from. What matters most is that you show up for school every day and work hard. If you do that, you can and will succeed.
Dr. Michael Beyer, Principal
For a meeting with Principal Beyer, parents are encouraged to schedule an appointment so as to protect time focused on improving the quality of education at Ogden International.