Steps to applying online

To use the School Selection process, here’s what you should do and when.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The District’s online School Selection application process is for families who wish to apply to schools other than their neighborhood elementary, middle or high school. For families who do not have Internet access, computer kiosks will be available at regionally based Network Offices and at the Office of Student Enrollment & Placement, 440 N. Broad St., Suite 111. Parents can also use the computers at their local Free Library branch.

As usual, the District’s process includes neighborhood schools with available seats, citywide middle schools, and citywide and special admission high schools. Charter schools have a variety of application timelines and processes.


  • If a student is interested in a school with entrance criteria, families should review the student’s final report card from the previous grade level, as well as his or her standardized test scores, behavior marks, and attendance to determine whether he or she meets the entrance criteria.
  • The School Selection student application will be available on the District’s website from Sept. 29 to Nov. 13. 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 School District’s website. The High School Fair will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, at Broad and Race Streets. Registered middle school groups can attend from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday. All Philadelphia District, charter and Archdiocesan schools are invited.
  • Families research schools. Students and families can access the District’s high school directory and other School Selection resources at 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 application.

Fall and ongoing

  • 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 in the fall for prospective students.
  • 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 and Philadelphia School Partnership is available on

By Nov. 13

  • The application deadline for the District’s School Selection application and the common application for charter schools is 5 p.m. Nov. 13. Applications may be submitted starting Sept. 29, but there is no admissions advantage to submitting early.
  • Students may apply to up to five District schools. There is no limit on charter applications.
  • Non-District students who applied to District schools that have admissions criteria must deliver transcripts and any required supplemental materials, such as essays, directly to the schools by Nov. 13.


  • High schools and middle schools with admission criteria begin to conduct interviews and hold auditions. Some schools only invite students who have met their criteria and do not notify students who have not. Other schools interview all applicants. Some schools expect the student to call to schedule the interview, so students should consult teachers and counselors and keep on top of the process.
  • Special admission schools make decisions on acceptance, rejection, and waitlists.
  • Citywide high schools choose the students who meet their admissions criteria to enter into the admissions lottery.
  • The District’s Offices of Student Enrollment & Placement and Information Technology run three computerized lotteries (one each for general education, special education, ELL) for acceptance to citywide and neighborhood schools.
  • Charter schools begin holding admissions lotteries.


  • District notifies students about initial status for their selected schools: accepted, declined, or waitlisted.
  • Students with one or more acceptances are expected to confirm their selected school choice within six days of the date of the notification.
  • Students with no acceptances are guaranteed enrollment at their neighborhood school.


  • District collaborates with schools to fill vacancies from waiting lists and send students final letters about where they’ve been accepted.

… and beyond

  • After students receive their final letters from the District, students may make one change in their school selection if they are subsequently accepted from waiting lists.
  • Schools continue to pull from waiting lists to fill vacancies if they arise as families’ plans change.

Compiled with assistance from Danielle Seward, District deputy chief, Student Enrollment & Placement.