Chicago Public High Schools – Selective Enrollment Open House Information

It’s fall in Chicago, and that means all 8th graders are choosing where to go to high school. The Chicago selective enrollment high schools offer open houses for 8th graders and their parents. It gives them a chance to visit the school to meet teachers, faculty, students, and  parents. They learn about the curriculum and teaching philosophy, check out sports programs and clubs, and experience the community in which the school resides.

This past Saturday, I volunteered as a parent at the Jones College Prep open house. Despite the fact that this will be the last year at the 606 S State location, we welcomed 4000 visitors to tour the building and learn about the new facility which will open next fall. Teachers volunteered their time to greet potential new students and discuss what classes they can expect. Dr. Powers addressed the guests in the auditorium, along with Friends of Jones Chair, Janet Roderick, Freshman Counselor Erica White, and the Jones’ Student Council President spoke, too. Ms. Carolyn Rownd entertained questions about the new building.


The 3500-4000 were greeted by the drumline, and visitors were entertained by the strings, jazz band, theater performance group, and acapella choir. Over 300 current students were scattered through the building, available to answer questions and guide guests during the self-directed tour.

My tips for parents who will be visiting selective enrollment open houses:

  • Dress Warmly–you may wait an hour or more to get inside!
  • Bring a folding chair if standing is uncomfortable for you, and don’t be afraid to seek out help if you need to ride the elevator or rest.
  • Bring a good book!
  • Bring change- often students sell hot chocolate, coffee, or churros to guests as a way to raise money for their school clubs
  • Arrive very early or at the end – There were people in line at 9 am Saturday, and the doors opened at 10:45. While the open house lasted until 4 pm, the line was done by 2:30 – 3:00 pm arrivals walked right in.
  • Take public transportation – chances are, your student will ride the CTA to school – the open house is a great chance to see what getting to/from school will be like.
  • Study the website BEFORE you go, and be prepared with specific questions. Most schools have information about curriculum, sports, and activities available.
  • Engage in conversation with the students – ask them questions! What do you like most about the school? What do you hope to do when you graduate?

Comparison of 4 Selective Enrollment High Schools on Chicago’s North Side – Northside, Payton, Lane, and Jones

Applying to a Selective Enrollment School? SelectiveEnrollmentHSandMilitaryAcademies_SEHS or apply online (get Pin # by Dec 7 – applications are due 12/14)

Options for Knowledge CPS Guide for High Schools – OptionsForKnowledgeGuide_English (1)

The open house schedule, as listed on the CPS OAES website, is as follows:

  • Brooks College Prep High School   250 E. 111th St.   Saturday, November 17, 2012 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Jones College Prep High School   606 S. State St.   Saturday, October 27, 2012 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • King College Prep High School   4445 S. Drexel Blvd.   Saturday, October 27, 2012 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Lane Tech High School   2501 W. Addison St.   Sunday, November 4, 2012 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Lindblom Math & Science Academy   6130 S. Wolcott St.   Saturday, November 3, 2012 10 a.m. to 12 noon
  • Northside College Prep High School   5501 N. Kedzie Ave.   Sunday, October 21, 2012 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Payton College Prep High School   1034 N. Wells Ave.   Saturday, November 10, 2012 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • South Shore International High School   1955 E. 75th St.   Saturday, November 3, 2012 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Westinghouse High School   3223 W. Franklin Blvd.   Saturday, October 20, 2012 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Young Magnet High School   211 S. Laflin St.   Sunday, October 28, 2012 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 See  Anne’s website for other information on Chicago Parenting and Chicago Schools. 

Selective Enrollment Acceptance Date

Tomorrow we’ll receive Michael’s letter from CPS – where he will go to high school for the next four years.  I stayed calm all last week, knowing the deadline was approaching, and reminding myself that “everything works out for the best.”  Letters were to be mailed on Friday, and we were expecting the news in Saturday’s post.


EnvelopeThe mail arrived early,  and there was no letter from CPS.  I couldn’t breathe — my heart raced.  I quickly called my neighbor, Mary, to see if she had received hers — maybe the mailman delivered our precious note to someone else by mistake.


Mary didn’t get a letter, either.  It seems no one got their letter on Saturday.  We would have to wait until Monday.


So here I sit.  I’m not even sure what I’m hoping for, other than I hope he gets in somewhere. This new high school admission process is unnerving, I think mostly because we will only get accepted to one high school — we won’t have a choice.  I’m ambivalent about the new  “zip code economic factor” system —  how will it affect our son?  Our friends’ kids?  The schools?

Chicago Public Schools

We applied to Ogden and Alcott, too, wanting to keep all options open.  This is only their second year, and I’m not hearing a lot of buzz in favor of these schools.  That’s not to say they won’t be a great option for many families.  I just don’t think parents are seeking them out the way they fight for selective enrollment spots.

I think I’ll go to bed.  One can think too much about things, especially that which is not in one’s control.  One thing is for sure —  things work out for the best!



Anne Rossley has raised 3 children in the Chicago Public Schools — this is her second child to go through the high school admissions process.

Anne has sold real estate in Chicago for over 20 years — call her if you have questions about schools or real estate!

Alcott High School to Share Space with Schneider

In my Rubloff Luxury Blog post of Feb 24, I reported on the Alcott High School for the Humanities, opening this fall. An information meeting was held that week at the Elementary School, and I was quite impressed by the plan put together by Alcott’s LSC, including principal David Domovic.

At that time, there was no building set aside for the new high school. Since that time, I have learned that the school will be sharing space this fall with Schneider at 2957 N. Hoyne. These transitions can be difficult to navigate, however based on the CPS staff, Alcott LSC and parental support, and the great need for new quality Chicago high schools, I have every reason to believe this school will be a tremendous addition and asset to the Chicago Public School program and the Renaissance 2010 initiative.

Site Location for Alcott High School

Site Location for Alcott High School


Chi-Town Daily News Article

My Healthy School

Renaissance 2010

CPS Elementary School Choice — Winning the lottery at a Magnet

Chicago Public Schools

Chicago Public Schools

This is the time of year that preschool and 8th grade parents wait by the mailbox to receive their Chicago Public School letters of acceptance.  What a stressful time!  The 8th graders learned of their high school acceptances via mail this past weekend, and preschool parents will find out their answers for elementary schools in a couple weeks.

Anna Alvarado, of Hawthorne Scholastic Academy, reports to me that her school received 1500 applications for kindergarten this year.  With siblings in older grades, this may leave only 33-50 lucky parents  — a 2-3% chance — of winning the lottery!  (And — your chances could be even more slim, depending on the sex and race of your child.)

As the economy weakens and demand for good public school choices increases, more pressure is being put on CPS to deliver good education alternatives. A good start was made in making Coonley a gifted center — that was one of the catalysts in making Bell the outstanding school it is today.

In a nutshell, your options for finding a Chicago Public Elementary School are:

Neighborhood School

Live in the boundaries of a neighborhood school (see the CPS school locator for guidance)

Examples — Lincoln, Bell, Alcott, Ogden

Magnet School

Usually, living in the neighborhood doesn’t matter — one enrolls in CPS magnets by a lottery that’s held annually based on applications due in December of the previous year.  So, applications delivered by 12/08 have yield the March acceptance letters for fall ’09. Examples on Chicago’s north side include

  • Disney
  • Franklin Fine Arts
  • Hawthorne
  • Inter-American
  • LaSalle Language Academy
  • Newberry Math and Science
  • Mayer
  • Stone
  • Wildwood

Classical Schools and Gifted Centers

These test-in elementary schools offer advanced educational opportunities to academically advanced students.  According to CPS Options For Knowledge,

Regional Gifted Centers place an emphasis on thinking, reasoning, problem solving and creativity. The test for Regional Gifted Centers assesses the student’s critical thinking skills and reasoning abilities.

Classical Schools place an emphasis on scholarship with a liberal arts focus. The test for Classical Schools assesses the student’s reading, language arts, and mathematics abilities.

Academic Centers

For 7th and 8th graders who are selected through 6th grade testing, options are available at schools including

  • Whitney Young
  • Taft

Middle Years IB

For 6th-8th grade students who live in the geographic boundaries of the IB programs, or who are accepted by application through the IB coordinator, these are great options for academically advanced students.

Jennifer Tanaka’s article, “It’s Elementary”, is a great guide for preschool parents who want more information on navigating the maze of Chicago Public School options.  While we should always be watchful for those who take advantage of the system, I am concerned that the recent Sun-Times article on Public Schools Pay to Play may unnecessarily exaggerate the improper use of principal picks.  Whenever there’s not enough room for all who want in, there will be allegations of wrongdoing.  Hopefully, public awareness and CPS vigilance will maintain public good will in this stressful process.

Other links:

Neighborhood Parents Network of Chicago

Chicago Area’s Best Schools

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