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How to Enroll or Apply: High Schools

How to Enroll or Apply: High Schools

First-Time Registration

If you are new to Philadelphia public schools, you will have to register.

New students should register at their designated neighborhood school at least two weeks prior to the start of school, usually during the last week of August and the first week of September.

Registration can be completed in three steps.

Visit the district's website for the list of documentation needed to register a new student.

If you are interested in attending a District school other than your designated neighborhood school, you will need to participate in Philadelphia's School Selection Process.

The School Selection Process opens on the District portal in September and closes in early November. During that time, students will have the opportunity to apply to up to 5 schools. These schools can be any combination of neighborhood schools, special-admit schools, CTE schools, and citywide admission schools. Learn more on the District's website.

(All students attending schools 1.5 miles or more from their home receive a SEPTA TransPass free of charge, but in some cases students have found that the travel time to and from their neighborhood places a burden on them or their family.)

Public Charter Schools

There are two basic types of charter schools in Philadelphia. Traditional charter schools can enroll students from any part of the city, but they must use a blind lottery to fill open spots. Renaissance charter schools must enroll all students living in a designated neighborhood.

Traditional Charter Schools

After you decide which charter schools you want to apply to, the next step is to fill out a short application. Charter schools must give all students an equal chance at admission. They are not allowed to deny application or admission to students because of their grades, race, income or special needs. In most cases, they are not allowed to make applicants take tests or go through interviews before admitting them.

The easiest way to apply to most charter schools is through Apply Philly Charter. Apply Philly Charter is a common application that allows applicants to submit applications to many schools at one time.

However, for schools that do not accept Apply Philly Charter, applications can be obtained either in person at each charter school or on the charter schools' websites. Once you fill out an application, your child will be entered into a lottery. Students selected in the lottery are offered enrollment. Students not selected are placed on a wait list.

The exact enrollment process varies from one charter school to another. In general, most charter schools require applications to be submitted by early February and conduct their lotteries by early March. For specific deadlines and admissions information, it is important that you contact each charter school directly.

Renaissance Schools

Renaissance Schools are formerly low-performing district public schools that were selected as "turnaround" schools by the School District of Philadelphia and converted into charters. Renaissance Schools operate like any other charter school, with increased freedom. However, like traditional public schools, Renaissance Schools are required to enroll all students living within designated neighborhood boundaries. This is unlike lottery charter schools, which do not give preference to families living nearby. The enrollment process for Renaissance Schools is the same as that for district schools. Learn more here:

Catholic Schools

Students must apply to attend a Catholic school. The details of the admissions process can vary, but generally includes an application, entrance test and interview. The entrance exam is offered on multiple dates from October through December. Admissions decisions are made by early spring. Depending on enrollment, a school may accept late applications until the start of a new school year.

Families should contact the Catholic school their children are interested in attending for information on that school's specific application deadlines and requirements.

Independent Private Schools

The admissions process is different at each independent school. Many schools require that families attend an open house before applying. Applications often require a recommendation from a teacher and a copy of your child's grades from his or her current school.

The application timeline varies from school to school but typically looks like this:

  • September-December. Attend an open house.
  • October-January. Submit an application. Application deadlines vary, and many schools accept applications throughout the spring. In general, the earlier you submit an application, the better your child's chances of admission. January. Submit a financial aid application (if necessary).

Admissions decisions are usually mailed by early February. If your child is accepted, most schools will offer the opportunity for your student to visit again before deciding whether to attend.


For more information, contact the School District of Philadelphia's Student Placement Office: 440 N. Broad Street, Suite 114

Philadelphia, PA 19130

Phone: 215-400-4290

More information

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