Founded in 1881, Convent of the Sacred Heart is the oldest independent girls’ school in Manhattan. Despite its name, it is not a “convent” but an independent Pre-K to grade 12 school. Sacred Heart is comprised of a Lower (Pre-K – grade 4), Middle (grades 5-8), and Upper School (grades 9-12), serving 710 students total. In Upper School, there are approximately 50 students per grade. This article will focus on the Upper School/High School.
Founded in the tradition of the Society of the Sacred Heart, the school is part of a global network of 159 Sacred Heart schools guided by principles of social justice, community building, and spiritual, intellectual, and personal growth. Sacred Heart instills leadership, critical thinking, and ethics into their students as they partake in research, service, and creative opportunities.
Students at Sacred Heart can pursue a wide range of academic, athletic, artistic, and extracurricular endeavors. The school is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Trips to museums, galleries, theatres, and Central Park are built into the curriculum and student experience. Students come to Sacred Heart from the five boroughs, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Convent of the Sacred Heart Quick Facts
|Percentage of CSH Students Accepted to College
|$54,970 (fluctuates yearly)
|Number of Clubs and Organizations
|Number of Sports and Athletic Teams
|The Student to Teacher Ratio
|Average Class Size
|Approximate Grade Size
|Roman Catholic, Society of the Sacred Heart
|Average SAT Score
|Average ACT Score
|CSH Admissions Exam
|CSH Scholarship Exam
|For nominated 8th graders; Unique test with similarities to the HSPT and ISEE
Interview also required
|Test Dates, Open House Dates, information Session Dates
Convent of the Sacred Heart Academics
The Upper School offers a rigorous and diverse curriculum in English, theology, science, history and social science, mathematics, language, as well as the performing & visual arts. There are 90 course offerings spanning the disciplines, including Honors options and 18 Advanced Placement course options. The school has a robust STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) curriculum, which includes robotics and computer science. For their language, students can study French, Latin, Spanish, or Mandarin. In the Visual Arts, Sacred Heart offers art history, ceramics, film/video, painting and drawing, photographic, and sculpture. The academic program is supported by library and technological services.
Students are prepared for college-level research and writing through two major projects built into the curriculum. In 11th grade, students take “Interdisciplinary Theological Research,” during which they conduct a year-long research project on a topic of their choice. In 11th and 12th grade, students have the opportunity to conduct a 2-year capstone project, an in-depth investigation on a subject of their choosing. Both projects culminate in public presentations. The academic curriculum is complemented by service projects.
College Preparation Program
Sacred Heart’s college counseling program begins in 9th grade and is invested in making sure each student is prepared for a school that is a strong fit for her as an individual. Students are assigned a college counselor in 9th grade, who meets with them regularly and helps with course selection, standardized test preparation, application materials, and financial aid across her four years in Upper School. The program also holds regular events for parents.
SAT/ACT Scores and College Matriculation
Reported average SAT scores and ACT scores are 1400 and 32, respectively, for Sacred Heart students. Sacred Heart’s most recent college matriculation list shows that students regularly graduate and attend Ivy League and top-tier schools in the US and abroad. Some popular ones recently include UPenn, UVA, Harvard, and Duke.
Convent of the Sacred Heart Student Life
Sacred Heart is housed in two historic mansions on Fifth Avenue, which include libraries, a chapel, courtyard, art studios, and laboratories. The school is currently in the midst of “FutureLab,” a renovation that will expand the school’s laboratory and recreational spaces. This project, expected to be completed by Fall 2022, will enhance the school’s science, technology, engineering, art, and math offerings.
Life at Sacred Heart is rich in tradition and opportunity. In sophomore year, students have the option to participate in the Sacred Heart International Visiting Students program, a study abroad opportunity enabled by Sacred Heart’s global network. Approximately 1/3 of students participate.
Across the Upper School years, students participate in service projects for the local community and beyond, and these projects are linked with their social justice curriculum. Students also go on retreats annually. In addition, 11th and 12th graders serve as “peer leaders” to 9th and 10th graders. These students provide guidance and leadership in the form of peer support, which builds community across the grades.
Sacred Heart also has a well-developed diversity program, which organizes speakers, events, teach-ins, and activities geared toward increasing dialogue and awareness around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This program is complemented by the academic and service programs. Although it is a Catholic school, it is not necessary to be Catholic to attend: about 65% of students are Catholic.
In 2014, Sacred Heart built a state-of-the-art 60,000 square foot athletic facility blocks from the school, which includes a regulation-size pool, gymnasium and regulation-size court, dance studio, multipurpose room, and strength and conditioning studio. The Sacred Heart Athletics and Wellness Center is the home to the school’s physical education, sports, and wellness programs.
Sacred Heart participates in the AAIS (Athletic Association of Independent Schools) League. CSH sports teams have won 15 AAIS Championships in the last 5 years. They offer sports in three seasons:
- Cross Country
- Indoor Track & Field
- Outdoor Track & Field
Sacred Heart offers a range of artistic and extracurricular opportunities. Students in the Upper School can participate in chorus, madrigals (acapella vocalists), drama, an annual play, an annual musical, and orchestra. Sacred Heart has an active forensics (speech and debate team), which competes throughout the year at local, regional, and national tournaments. The forensics team is currently the top all-girls speech team in the state of New York. Other activities that Sacred Heart offers include:
- Cornerstone (Yearbook)
- Iris (Visual Arts Magazine)
- Spirit of 91st Street (Newspaper)
- Zenith (Literary Magazine)
- Acoustic Club
- Admission Club
- Amnesty International
- Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Club
- Art Club
- Asian American Affinity
- Biology Club
- Bread for the World
- C.A.S.A. (Children’s After-School Studio Art Program)
- Campus Ministry
- Computer Science Club
- Diversity, Awareness, and Inclusion Coalition
- Environmental Club
- Finance & Investment: Literacy, Practice, and Outreach
- Forensics (Speech Team)
- Joint Schools Association
- Junior Statesmen of America
- Kairos Retreat Team
- Launch X
- Math Team
- Mental Health Awareness Club
- Mock Trial
- Model United Nations
- P.R.I.D.E. (Providing a Responsible Inclusive Diverse Environment)
- Sacré Couer Community Service Club (includes Habitat for Humanity Chapter and Helping Hearts Philanthropy Committee)
- Student-Athlete Advisory Council
- Student Government
- Sacred Heart Surgeons
- Student Initiative for Research and Social Action
- WPH (Women of Proud Heritage)
- WSCJ (Women of the Sacré Couer De Jésus)
Convent of the Sacred Heart Famous Alumnae
Sacred Heart’s alumnae have gone on to make contributions to the arts, sciences, politics, medicine, law, education, and business. Notable alumnae include:
- Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga)
- Magee Hickey, Emmy-award winning journalist
- Elaine Stritch, Tony-award winning Broadway actress and singer
- Lia Neal, 2012 and 2016 Olympic medalist in swimming
- Caroline Kennedy, attorney and diplomat
- Jordana Brewster, actress
- Ethel Skakel Kennedy, human rights advocate
- Jean Kennedy Smith, diplomat
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics
Is Convent of the Sacred Heart or Marymount better?
A very similar school you will also want to consider is Marymount School of New York. Going to either of these schools would be an excellent decision. It is hard to determine which would be ideal for your daughter. Both are all girls schools on the Upper East Side and some of the best schools in the country. If you can attend either of these schools, you should attend.
Convent of the Sacred Heart Admissions Process
For applicants not applying for the Sacred Heart Scholarship, the Sacred Heart application is made available August 15 for the following academic year. The application deadline is December 1.
After receiving the application and fee, applicants will be contacted for an interview and tour with a member of the admissions team and a member of the faculty. Applicants may also request a meeting with a coach or the Athletic Director.
Taking the ISEE as the Sacred Heart Entrance Exam
Upper School applicants are strongly encouraged to take the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE). These scores, along with school transcripts and teacher recommendations, must be submitted by early January of the application year. Enrollment decisions are made in late February.The ISEE is offered multiple times per year.
The ISEE is similar enough to the HSPT that students can prepare for both at the same time. Since the scholarship exam is similar, it is worth applying for that if applying for entrance.
Convent of the Sacred Heart Scholarship Exam
Sacred Heart offers a merit-based Sacred Heart Scholarship, which partially covers tuition. Recipients who qualify are also eligible for additional financial aid.
Eighth graders currently attending a Catholic parochial school who demonstrate leadership, character, and scholastic aptitude by scoring in or above the 95th percentile on standardized testing are eligible to be nominated by their 8th grade teacher or principal. Sacred Heart sends out information regarding nominating eligible students annually each spring to parochial school administrators. Nominated candidates fill out a scholarship application and take a scholarship exam.This is very similar to Regis admissions.
In total, the CSH Scholarship Exam is a littler over 2 hours with 85 questions and an essay. The Sacred Heart Scholarship Exam has three sections:
- Essay – 30 minutes
- English – 50 questions in 50 minutes
- Math – 35 questions in 45 minutes
The essay is related to the mission of the Convent of the Sacred Heart. Topics from which to choose will be given the day of the test. Familiarity with the school will help. The English section contains standard sections on many other high school admissions exams, including reading comprehension, vocabulary, and some grammar in context. For math, 1 minute per question is much more time than the HSPT but it is necessary to work quickly. The calculations are more straightforward compared with the Marymount scholarship exam. Otherwise, the tests and material are similar. In format and difficulty, the CSH scholarship exam seems most like an ISEE without some of the unique parts, so that it likely the best practice test for CSH scholarship. Practicing HSPTs will also help.
Convent of the Sacred Heart Interview
After doing well enough on the Sacred Heart scholarship exam, semifinalists are interviewed. Preparing for the interview and thoughtfully considering the types of questions that can be asked beforehand can greatly increase your daughter’s chances of doing well.
Tuition and Financial Aid
In the 2020-2021 academic year, Upper School tuition is $54,970. Financial aid is available, and approximately 20% of Sacred Heart students receive financial assistance. To be considered for financial aid, families must submit a Personal Financial Statement and a TADS Financial Aid Application in the fall of the application year.
Preparing for the Convent of the Sacred Heart Admissions Process
Sitting for private school entrance exams is a major hurdle for many students entering into private school admissions season. The key to strong chances of admission is intense preparation from a young age. A student’s goal should be to learn the material so well that they never forget it.
Students often begin preparing for private school entrance exams as early as 6th and 7th grade with a practice exam. Strong academics in middle school and strong performance on the entrance exams can increase their chances for acceptance into the competitive private high schools around NYC.
As a Regis High School graduate, I know the preparation and commitment it takes to get into a top private high school. My tutoring team offers group and individual private tutoring sessions to boost your student’s academic performance and self-confidence for the rigorous private high school admissions season.
Best High School Admissions Results in NYC
If you want to increase your daughter’s chances of attending Convent of the Sacred Heart, start her early with private or group tutoring sessions. Most students take a practice test before their first lesson to identify areas of improvement and potentially group similar students with similar goals. We also use this to compare to future practice tests to determine what is working. Together we can prepare her for success in high school and beyond.
Call, text, or email us to discuss the best options for your daughter, including individual one-on-one tutoring or in a group for Sacred Heart admissions or a combination of goals.
You can view availability for groups and tutoring at Book Me.