2018-19 Timeline for Choosing a High School

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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. Download our Before You Apply to High School toolkit to help guide you through the process. 

Two to Three Years Before Entering High School

Begin thinking about your options. Use GreatPhillySchools.org or take the Guided Search quiz 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


Visit the Philly High School Fair at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The Philadelphia High School Fair is a free opportunity to meet with Philadelphia's district, charter, and private schools. It is open to the public from 5-7pm on September 15, 2017 and from 10 am-3 pm on September 16, 2017. Admission is free and open to the publicl; no RSVP is required. 

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 on our Event Calendar. 

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 at philasd.org/offices/studentplacement.

The District's School Selection Process begins on September 29, 2017. Instructions are available at schoolselect.philasd.org. The application must be submitted online and students can list up to five schools.

Charter school application windows begin to open. Many charter schools will be participating in standard deadlines (either January 31, 2018 or March 1, 2018) this year. Those with application deadlines of January 31, 2018 will open as early as October 1, 2017. For a full list of schools participating in the standard deadlines, click here


Review the Philadelphia charter school standard application and list of participating schools.  Remember: charter schools have separate application forms and deadlines for entering 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.)

By November 13

The District's School Selection application is due November 13, 2017 at 5 pm. 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.


Most charter school deadlines fall within this time. See a full list of charter school deadlines here. Over 80 charter schools will be accepting the Charter School Standard Application. For the application and a full list of participating schools, click here. Some charter schools will hold their lotteries during this time and notify parents of their application status; schools participating in the standard deadline of January 31, 2018 will hold their lotteries no later than February 28, 2018. 

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, 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.


Most charter schools hold their lotteries and notify parents of their results. Schools participating in the standard deadline of March 1, 2018 will hold their lotteries no later than April 1, 2018. At this time, parents will learn if they were accepted and/or their position on the wait list. If you are wait listed, call the school and have an honest conversation about your odds at moving up the wait list in time.


District collaborates 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.

Some private schools may still be accepting applications. Visit greatphillyschools.org for a list of schools still available. 

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 here.

Looking for more information on finding a great school? 
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