2016-17 Timeline for Choosing a High School

It’s never too soon to start looking for the right school. Some 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. Some schools also have an extensive admissions process.

For the 2016-17 school year, the district’s School Selection Process will include neighborhood schools with available seats and citywide/special-admission middle and high schools. In addition, the application for this process will be online only. Computer kiosks will be available for families who do not have Internet access at regionally based Learning Network Offices and the Office of Student Enrollment and Placement, located at 440 North Broad Street, Suite 111. Parents can also utilize computer resources at their local Free Library branch.


Two to Three Years Before Entering High School

  • Begin thinking about your options. Use GreatPhillySchools.org to begin your search.

  • 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

  • Schools work with students to review their academic records and admissions criteria (if any) at various schools. The district’s High School Directory can be found at philasd.org/offices/studentplacement.

  • The School Selection student application will be available at schoolselect.philasd.org from September 29 to November 11. District students will be able to access the application through the parent/student online portal by entering their student ID and password. Non-district students will be able to access the application through a link on the main page of the district’s website. Students can select up to five schools.

  • The High School Fair will be held in October. All Philadelphia district, charter and archdiocesan schools are invited. For more information, see highschoolfair.squarespace.com.

  • All students and families can access school selection resources at philasd.org/offices/studentplacement.

  • 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.

  • Private schools (independent and Catholic) begin to hold open houses.

  • 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. A schedule will be available mid-October.

  • Charter schools have separate application forms and deadlines for entering admissions lotteries. A list of charter schools participating in the new common application coordinated by the Charter School Office, Great Schools Compact and Philadelphia School Partnership is available at phillyschoolapp.org.

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

By November 11
  • The deadline for submission of the School Selection application is November 11. This must be submitted online; visit schoolselect.philasd.org to apply. 

  • 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.

  • High schools with admissions criteria begin to evaluate applications and conduct interviews and auditions.

  • Special-admission schools make acceptance, rejection and wait-list decisions.

  • Citywide schools choose the students who qualify to enter into the admissions lottery.

  • The district’s Office of Student Enrollment and Placement and Office of Information Technology run three separate computerized lotteries (for general education, special education and ELL) for acceptance to citywide and neighborhood schools.

  • Charter schools begin holding admissions lotteries.

  • Most private schools release acceptance, rejection and wait-list decisions.

  • District notifies students about initial status.

  • Students are expected to select their preferred school within two weeks.

  • District collaborates with schools to fill vacancies from wait lists and notifies students about final status.

Learn more about the application & selection process by clicking here.

More Information

Looking for more information on finding a great school? See all articles here.