High School Acceptance :: Another Rite of Passage

High School Acceptance :: Another Rite of Passage

It’s high school acceptance time, and in New Orleans, this takes on a whole different meaning. The “Where did you go to high school?” question is so widely used here because where you go means, “Are you my people? Do I know your people? Do I like your people?” So you can imagine this decision for 7th graders across the GNO is weighty, more for some than others. This is what is discussed in hushed circles of moms at school events, the behind the scenes of the high school application process for boys and girls attending Archdiocese Catholic schools.

mail box with letters- high school acceptance in New Orleans

Where the boy or girl attends school, for many families, is as much about the parents’ own relationships, and more so the mother. At open house, parents are looking around at other parents and wondering, “are these my people?” Don’t get me wrong, we want our children to go to high school where they will best thrive … but we are going to direct and redirect as needed.

If our child falls into an unsavory circle of friends or bad habits, this is the chance to redirect to a new set of friends. May be surprising to some, but parents are not concerned with their child going to high school with their grade school friends. We want our children best positioned to succeed. Success looks different for everyone, some they want their child to receive the best access to academic, others it’s a competitive and winning sports team.  What is not said is above all perhaps, we want our child to go where they will fit in best.

For the rest of their lives, this will be a piece of their New Orleans DNA, and thus this choice is huge and a weighty one to make at 13.

opening a high school acceptance letter

The Catholic school system landscape is bizarre, particularly for the girls’ schools. There are 2-3 mega huge and popular schools that are bursting at the seams, landlocked for expansion, who need to get more and more creative to keep class sizes down. I think the New Orleans Catholic school landscape for girls’ schools is a cannibalistic situation with the two mega schools getting larger and larger and others hanging on by a thread.  

There is a sprinkling of two to three other all-girl schools that I am certain are anxious every year to meet their attendance goals and do not have the tuition funding to remain competitive. This is not the case for the boys’ schools which are relatively equal players, ranging in size but none suffering for attendance.

The private, non-Archdiocesan schools are in a whole different space, not included in the Catholic school Wild West. The private schools welcome students coming in from an Archdiocese school, but their high school population comes primarily from their own middle school and not part of the Catholic school system where “you can only apply to one.”

Yes, to add to a whole other level of complexity for the Catholic schools, you can only pick one Catholic school to apply to. For some, maybe not all but for sure at our school, it is safely assumed this is where you will be accepted.

There is a behind closed door assumption that the grammar school will not let you apply to a high school where the child will not be accepted, and you will be redirected to a better fit school. With the sheer numbers of applicants vying for spots at the mega schools, I imagine there is a system to ensure first-choice placement for at least logistics. And I am sure it does not hurt the grade school to have a class of happy 7th graders all getting acceptance letters from their school of choice. I am speculating on this portion because this is what parents of 7th graders do best! Speculate!

All of this is a stark contrast to when I went to high school coming from a Catholic grammar school. I knew exactly where I was going. I remember nothing of the application process, of countdowns to an acceptance letter, much less a basket of high school swag and goodies waiting for me. My mom ordered my monogram sweater and I went to school. Today’s hyper-fixation and celebration velocity is at med school acceptance levels, with the basket of swag ready in another room to be bestowed on your child as they read their letter. Soon our social media will be full of smiling, albeit likely not thrilled to be photographed, 13 year olds with letters in hand in front of the school’s logo swag.

I hope every parent remembers that deep down, where your child goes to high school does not define you or your child. I hope wherever that letter is sending your child next year they will thrive! Good luck, parents!

Julie Couret
Nola Native, Julie Couret is Mom of Emma Mae (12) & Helen (10) and partner to her long term boyfriend Tom. She co-parents with her ex-husband & is known for candid posts on her life behind the scenes. Julie is self-employed an Executive Coach who works with business owners leading strategic planning sessions, management training, leadership development, and change management. She loves road trips with her kids, playing tourist in her own city, and riding in her parade Krewe Cleopatra!


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