ICYMI: Tips from High School Admissions 101

In late August, hundreds of parents assembled for a presentation on demystifying the high school admissions process was presented by BAPA, the 19th Ward Alderman’s Office, Chicago School GPS and the Beverly Arts Center.

In case you missed it, Grace Lee Sawin of Chicago School GPS, shared some of her insights and some helpful links for parents of 6th, 7th and 8th graders who should be starting the high school search now.

Students are advised to take tours and, if possible, participate in shadow days at schools they may wish to attend. Chicago School GPS maintains a calendar of public and private school tours, which can be accessed at www.chischoolgps.com/Calendar.php. Open house dates for Chicago public schools are listed under events through the CPS Office of Access and Enrollment at www.cpsoae.org.

Chicago Public Schools now has a central platform – GoCPS — to manage the high school application process and provide information, research tools, and application resources for students. The site can be accessed at go.cps.edu now to set up accounts and do research, and application submissions begin Oct. 2.

The Catholic school entrance exam has been moved up to the Sat., Dec. 2, 8 a.m. Get information on Chicago Archdiocese school open houses and tips at schools.archchicago.org. For tips on the high school placement test, visit ststesting.com/hspt/.

Independent schools offer a many options and have unique guidelines for applications, open houses and visiting: Lake Michigan Association of Independent Schools, www.lmais.org; National Association of Independent Schools, www.nais.org; Independent Schools Association of the Central States, www.isacs.org. Info on Independent School Entrance Exam admissions testing is available at www.erblearn.org/services/isee-overview.

More about GoCPS

“At Chicago School GPS, we often tell families that the only constant in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is to expect ‘change,” Sawin said. “This fall, there is a lot of change in the high school application process. The rumors of a single application for CPS high schools have come to fruition with the unveiling of GoCPS (www.go.cps.edu) for the 2018-19 school year.”

Sawin explains that GoCPS is essentially a consolidation of several formerly separate applications, such as for magnet schools, military schools, IB programs, etc., into one form. Students will receive one offer of acceptance based on the highest ranked school (out of 20) for which he or she qualifies.

Applications for the 11 selective enrollment high schools will remain separate since they require meeting eligibility standards and taking an entrance exam.

“In other words, your student can get up to two CPS high school offers next spring, as opposed to the multiple offers from different types of programs that were given in prior years,” Sawin explained.

According to CPS, Oct. 2 is the first date students can submit applications through GoCPS, but users can activate accounts using the activation code that was sent home with current CPS students at the end of last school year, create profiles, verify the accuracy of and request corrections to records, and research the programs to which students are eligible to apply. Non-CPS students do not need an activation code to open an account, but they will be prompted to schedule testing in order for CPS to determine their eligibility for programs. The Office of Access and Enrollment’s call center can be reached at 773-553-2060 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon. through Fri.

On Oct. 2, families can select the high school programs where students will apply, rank them in order of preference and submit a single application that covers all the high schools. Students will be matched to the highest ranked program on their application that they qualify for and that has available seats.

In March 2018, students will receive a single best offer to the non-selective enrollment program they match with; and if they are eligible, they will receive a separate offer to the selective enrollment program they match with. If a student does not match with any programs on their application, or does not apply to any programs at all, they are guaranteed a spot at their neighborhood school. Students do not have to apply to attend their neighborhood school, but they are strongly encouraged to select and rank them along with all other programs they are applying to.

To begin the account activation process and learn more about GoCPS, visit www.go.cps.edu. Learn more about Chicago School GPS and its resources at www.chischoolgps.com or 312-324-4774.