When my son went through the application for high school admission last year, we both found it daunting.
We had to figure out which documents each school was requesting. All needed transcripts, so that was easy. But some wanted an essay, while others wanted a visit. Some had interviews, while others had a shadow day, and still others simply wanted the forms. The essays differed in different places, as did the interview processes. My son had to rank the schools he applied to in order of preference. We found the process pretty complicated.
But this year will likely pose even more challenges for students and their families. With counselors suffering a major blow in the budget cuts, school district 8th graders likely have less support on both ends of the process than they had last year. The process is also shifting towards a single application, but charters aren’t on board yet, and this is a transitional year between the two systems. Also, the district isn’t printing the high school directory this year, and it has cancelled the High School Expo. These seem like pretty big wrenches in the process, but thankfully there are workarounds and ways to mitigate some of the challenges.
Brief Process Primer: There are several different types of public high schools in the city: neighborhood schools, citywide admission, special admission, and charter schools. By default, an 8th grader would go to his or her neighborhood school. https://webapps.philasd.org/school_finder/ Even if attending their neighborhood school, all 8th graders are required to fill out the high school selection form. http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/uploads/H6/fL/H6fL-WqoIsvO-gnPHxR0sg/Common-App-District-FORM-v5.pdf
Beyond the neighborhood school, an 8th grader may also choose to apply to a special admission high school (schools like Masterman and Central High), a charter school (such as Mastery or KIPP), or a city-wide admission school (think Dobbins or Constitution).
Special admissions applicants are highly screened and selected for admission, while city-wide and charter applicants are put into a lottery for admission after meeting minimal or competitive admission requirements.
Special Admission Schools Link: http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/uploads/FD/Er/FDErla1VAuPVMnonw3daLA/SPECIAL-ADMISSION-SCHOOLS.pdf
Citywide Admission Schools LInk: http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/uploads/O1/-V/O1-VtzUJxJWRoeXNSd-R-Q/CITYWIDE-SCHOOLS.pdf
Charter Schools Link: http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/uploads/nT/gw/nTgwalXL_NVkItOyFz8CKw/Charter-Directory-2013—2014a1current2.pdf
How does a student apply to a charter school?
Each charter schools has its own application, deadlines, and admissions process. To apply to a Charter School other than the Renaissance/Promise Academy Charter Schools, visit the charter school’s website and closely follow the application steps.