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Choosing a Philadelphia High School (for SY 2025-2026)

2022-23 Timeline for Choosing a Philadelphia High School

It’s never too soon to start looking for the right school. Most schools require students to apply nearly a full year before the start of the school year. This is the case with all of the School District of Philadelphia’s citywide- and special-admission schools and local charter schools. Some schools also have an extensive admissions process. Download our How to Apply to a K-12 School toolkit to help guide you through the process.

Two to Three Years before Entering High School

Begin thinking about your options. Use our search feature, Find A School, and apply filters to select your top choices.

Visit the schools that seem as though they might be a good fit and speak with principals, teachers and parents. Use our guide to school visits to help ask the right questions.

The Year Prior to Entering High School


Check Out the 2024 Philly School Fair! The K-12 Philly Fair is a free opportunity to explore Philadelphia’s district, charter, and private schools, available both in-person and online. This year, on Friday, September 27th and Saturday, September 28th, the fair will feature schools from grades K-12 in the Convention Center. Admission is free and open to the public; no RSVP is required. For more information, visit phillyschoolfair.com.

Apply for financial aid if you are considering private school options. Most private schools award financial aid on a rolling basis, so applying early increases your chance of receiving a larger award package.

Attend open houses. See a list of open houses, hosted by schools, on the phillyschoolfair.com. Virtual options are available.

Attend information sessions with your counselor. Counselors and teachers may hold information sessions to help parents and students choose schools and complete the online student application. Parents should ask principals for information about assistance in completing the online student application. All students and families can access District school selection resources here.

The District’s School Selection Process will open in September 2024. The application must be submitted online, where students can list up to five schools. The application deadline is October 2024.

Apply to charter schools at Apply Philly Charter. After you decide which charter schools you want to apply to, the next step is to fill out a short, online application on Apply Philly Charter. The application for 2025-2026 will open on September 20, 2024. See full list of participating schools on Apply Philly Charter and start your application! The deadline to apply for Fall 2025 is January 21, 2025.

If you plan to apply to any charter schools not on Apply Philly Charter, be sure to find out their specific application deadlines. Remember: charter schools not on Apply Philly Charter have individual application forms and deadlines for their admissions lotteries.

Schedule a shadow day for your student. Some high schools allow prospective applicants to visit and shadow students. Families should contact schools directly. The district is encouraging high schools to hold open houses for prospective students.

Private schools accept applications and hold entrance and scholarship exams. (Read more about applying to Catholic schools and independent private schools.)

The District’s School Selection application is due in October 2024. Families are encouraged to not wait until the last day; opening an account in the SDP portal takes multiple days to finalize. Once a family opens an account, they will have to wait a few days for a confirmation email. If a family opens an account the day the application is due, they will not get the confirmation email in time to submit their application. Learn more about how to apply to a District school.

Non-district students who applied to district schools with admissions criteria must deliver transcripts and any required supplemental materials, such as essays, directly to the schools.


Apply to most charters schools by January 21, 2025. Apply to over 70 charter schools using a single, online application, Apply Philly Charter, by January 21, 2025 for the 2025-26 school year. The list of participating schools for 2025-26 application will be available in summer 2024. Charter schools not participating in Apply Philly Charter may also have similar deadlines.

Special-admission schools make acceptance, rejection and wait-list decisions. Citywide schools choose the students who qualify to enter into the admissions lottery, based on their admissions criteria.

The District will notify students about the results of their School Selection Applications. Families are typically asked to decide between their options (if they received more than one acceptance) within a week of receiving this notification. Parents must submit an acceptance or they forfeit their spot.

Most private schools release acceptance, rejection and wait-list decisions. Private schools may require a deposit to guarantee your student’s seat for the following year.

Charter schools notify families. All applications submitted through Apply Philly Charter will be sent to the charter schools listed on the student’s application. Families will be contacted on or around February 12th  about the outcome of their application(s). For schools that run a lottery, families will be contacted about whether their student was selected in the lottery or placed on the waitlist. For schools without a lottery, families will hear back about whether they have been offered enrollment. If you applied through Apply Philly Charter you can log onto your profile to see the results for your application(s). 


Charter schools will fill vacancies from waitlists. All students that received a seat offer from an APC charter school must accept their seat by early March. Charter schools will then start making seat offers to students on the waitlist if they have available seats. This is a great time to contact the school and discuss your odds at being accepted from the waitlist.

District works with schools to fill vacancies from wait lists. If your student did not receive a placement during the School Selection Process in November, but was waitlisted, this is a great time to contact the school and discuss your odds at being accepted from the waitlist.

Some private schools may still be accepting applications. Search by open seats using our search feature, Find A School, or click this article to see who is enrolling for the current school year. Please inquire about availability with the school directly.

More Information

We update this list as new information arrives, so make sure to check back. If you see information that’s missing or incorrect, please email us at [email protected].

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