The High School Application Process: A Brief Overview

The high school application process for eighth graders actually begins in the seventh grade. High schools use the transcript from seventh grade when making the majority of the decisions for admittance, looking at grades, PSSA scores, attendance, lateness, and behavior comments, both positive and negative. Although high school will sometimes look at a student's eighth grade report card if a student is borderline for acceptance, it is usually the seventh grade report that puts a student into the "yes," "no," or "maybe" pile at a high school.

In September, all seventh and eighth graders attend a series of recruitment assemblies that give the students an in depth look into some of the public high schools in Philadelphia. The recruitment assemblies this year included Science Leadership Academy, Academy at Palumbo, Philadelphia High School for Business and Technology, Central High School, and Furness High School, among others. Also, during the month of September, all students are invited to the School District's High School Expo. This expo features every high school in Philadelphia, including many charter schools. Students can use this expo to gain exposure to all of the high schools and programs Philadelphia has to offer.

Around the same time as the High School Expo, students receive a High School Directory. This lists all of the public high schools in Philadelphia, their location, admission requirements, extracurricular activities, courses and programs offered, and their approach to learning. Students use this to finalize their five selections for the high school application and prepare any materials a high school requires with their application, which could be a writing sample, letter of recommendation or resume. Each student meets with their counselor, traditionally during the month of October, to input their five selections for high school.

After the school counselor submits selections online, high schools begin the long process of admitting students for the following year. Interviews occur during December and January for schools that require one and schools make their final decisions during January and February. Letters of acceptance are sent during March, April, and May.

It is important to remember two key points during this process. First, charter schools are not included in this high school process and have their own individual application processes. Also, every student has a spot at a high school in Philadelphia. If a student is not accepted to any of the schools they selected, they are guaranteed a spot at their neighborhood school.

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