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. 

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