Written by Daniel Ahn
Housed in a massive red-brick building between Park and Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side, Hunter College High School is fondly nicknamed the Brick Prison by its inhabitants. As one of the top-rated schools in the city, HCHS fosters an environment of academic, creative, and physical growth, setting standards for its students that the students themselves continue to expand day after day. The achievements of ‘Hunterites’ themselves are astounding, with two Intel Science Talent Search Semifinalists within the past three years and several citywide, statewide, and even nationwide victories for the Quiz Bowl, History Bowl, Science Bowl, Debate, and Math teams. The athletic teams (all collectively labeled the Hunter Hawks) have reached citywide championships on many occasions, even defeating other top schools in the PSAL city championships, as did the girls’ volleyball team in the 2006 season, the boys’ fencing team in 2006 and 2011, the boys’ soccer team in 2010, the boys’ lacrosse team in 2011 and 2013, and the girls’ lacrosse team in 2011.
Boasting a 25% Ivy League acceptance rate, Hunter has drawn the notice of colleges across the nation, including 27 students accepted to Harvard College, 20 students to Princeton, 34 students to Yale, 40 students to Columbia, 23 to Brown University, 76 to Cornell, 29 to University of Pennsylvania, and 21 students to Dartmouth College in the past three years, out of a graduating class of 200. Its impressive track record and the stellar achievements of its students have made Hunter College High School a leader in secondary education. What’s more, being a public school, Hunter is absolutely free to attend. The low cost and great rewards of attending Hunter have, as might be expected, resulted in a fiercely competitive admissions process.
How Do I Get Into Hunter?
Although the rewards of going to Hunter, a top tier education and a greatly increased chance of acceptance into many prestigious colleges, are great, the competition for the school’s limited spots is even greater. Unless one gets accepted into HCHS via Hunter College Elementary School (Approximately 50 students come through this way each year), prospective students must first qualify for the school’s admissions test by placing above the 90th percentile of test takers on the fifth grade standardized reading and math tests and being NYC residents. Around 2,000 students are chosen to take the test in sixth grade and only around 150 students are chosen each year through the test.
How is the experience?
The story that perhaps best encapsulates the Hunter experience happened to me on a trip to Washington D.C., in my junior year. I was a member of Washington Seminar, a program that begins with research on current political issues and culminates in a three day trip to the capital to meet with people to whom we had been writing letters as part of our assignments. Highlights of the trip in prior years included Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and this year, one of our most anticipated appointments was with the Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob Lew.
After passing through various security checkpoints into the Treasury Building, we were led to a conference room where, a few minutes later, the Secretary himself walked in. After some brief words of welcome, he smiled and said (paraphrased), “I was unsure if I would be able to meet with you guys, but after telling my wife about it, I had no choice. She graduated from Hunter back in ’76 and demanded that I check up on you guys.”