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High School Selection

High School Selection

High school applicants who have completed the application during the initial application window will receive their results in early spring. The application system uses a combination of factors to attempt to give the student an offer from the highest-ranked Choice Program and/or Selective Enrollment Program on their application for which they qualify and for which there are available seats. Applicants who miss the initial window will be able to complete a registration form and add themselves to the rolling waitlist once it opens. Only programs that have space remaining will participate in the rolling waitlist.

This page will help you understand the processes and methodologies that determine how offers are issued and how you can manage them.

Selection Factors

During the selection process, the application system will try to match the student with their top-ranked Choice Program and their top-ranked Selective Enrollment Program. If all the available seats at the student’s top-ranked program are filled by students that ranked higher based on the school’s admissions process or priority preferences, the system will try to match the student with their next highest choice.

This process continues until the student receives an offer or the student is considered for all of the programs on their application and does not qualify for any.

Guide to Tie Breakers

Students are considered for available ninth-grade seats based on a combination of the following factors:

Choice Programs & Selective Enrollment Selection Process

Students are considered for high school programs based on a combination of factors that include:

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Results from any required admissions screenings or supplementary requirements (e.g. auditions)

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Whether any priority preferences are considered (e.g., siblings attending the school, proximity to the school, etc.)

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The order that they ranked each program on their application

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The number of seats available in each program

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Each program’s selection process (lottery or point system)

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Selection Results

Students who apply in the fall application window will receive their Selection Results in early spring.*

Every student is guaranteed a seat in the general education program of their neighborhood school.

*Please remember that students are not guaranteed an offer from any programs to which they apply outside of the general education program at their neighborhood school.

Students could also:

  • Receive a single best offer to a Choice Program.
  • Receive a single best offer to a Selective Enrollment Program.
  • Students who attend a continuing school are guaranteed a seat in the continuing 9th-grade program.
  • CHOICE Programs Only: Be placed on a waitlist for any programs for which they qualified, ranked higher than the program for which they received an offer, but where there were not enough available seats.
  • SELECTIVE ENROLLMENT Programs Only: If no Selective Enrollment program offer is received, a student will be placed on waitlists for all of the selective enrollment programs they applied to and for which they qualified. If a student receives a selective enrollment offer, they will not be placed on the waitlist for the selective enrollment programs they ranked higher on their application.

Accepting and Declining Offers

Families will have three weeks from the date of their offer(s) to log into the GoCPS Online portal and accept or decline them. Remember that an applicant can only accept one offer at any given time and accepting an offer will decline all other offers.

Accepting or declining a choice offer does not affect your waitlist status for any program. If a student has a selective enrollment offer, they must decline it in order to be able to add themselves to other selective enrollment waitlists.

If an offer is not accepted by the Accept/Decline deadline, it will expire.

If you are not able to log in and accept/decline your offer make sure to call the GoCPS Hotline and have the offer accepted/declined over the phone. Offers will not be reoffered once they expire as they will go to the student that is next on the waitlist.

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Waitlist Process

If a seat becomes available at a school where a student is waitlisted, the family will receive a notification through phone or email from the Office of Access and Enrollment. Make sure this information is up to date in the applicant’s GoCPS portal. Families will have two business days to accept or decline a waitlist offer. Waitlist offers are available at 8 am and will expire at 8 am two business days later.

Students will remain on waitlists and can accept a waitlist offer any time it is received. If a student accepts a choice waitlist offer, they will remain waitlisted for all other choice and selective enrollment programs that they were on before accepting an offer. If a student accepts a selective enrollment waitlist offer, they will remain on all other choice program waitlists, but will be removed from all selective enrollment program waitlists in that category.

Guide to The Waitlist Process 

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Adding New Programs to Application

If an applicant is not satisfied with the Selection results or did not receive an initial offer, they can still select additional programs to apply to once the waitlist process opens.

Families will be able to log into their GoCPS accounts and see participating programs for which they are eligible. These programs will be sorted by proximity to their home.

  • If a program has many available seats with no waitlisted students and the applicant meets the criteria/there is no criteria, the applicant will be able to receive an immediate offer.
  • If the program only has a few seats and/or selects students based on descending points, the applicant will be able to join the waitlist.
    • Waitlists that are sorted in descending score order will be re-sorted nightly as new students join the waitlists.
    • High Schools will make waitlist offers as they determine they have space available.

HS Admissions Screenings

Programs that require a screening will be available to students to add themselves to a waitlist until the school is ready to make an offer. Please note, that students will be sorted nightly by their total points. Students will have to screen/audition unless they did so during the fall. If a student has screening scores from the initial application window, they will not be permitted to screen again, we will re-use their score.

Appeals Process

The CPS appeals process is designed to provide a remedy in cases where a process within the application system was not implemented according to CPS policy, or where a decision-maker failed to follow CPS policy.

The Appeals Process will be available after results are released for high school and elementary school results are released. Please request an appeals application in your student’s GoCPS online portal.

The appeals window for the 2024-25 application year will open on March 4, 2024 and will close on May 17th, 2024.

All appeals must be submitted within this window.

Guide to Submitting an Appeal

Selective Enrollment High School (SEHS) Principal Discretion

SEHS Principal Discretion is the process that allows Selective Enrollment High School principals to fill a designated number of seats, outside of the regular selection process, based on information provided through Application Packages submitted by students.

Application Period

The SEHS Principal Discretion application period for the 2024-25 school year will open on February 28th, 2024, after initial high school selections are released. Students can only apply for SEHS Principal Discretion to a school they had included on their initial fall application. Applicants can only select one school to include on their SEHS Principal Discretion application.

SEHS Principal Discretion Application Opens: February 28th, 2024
SEHS Principal Discretion Application Closes: March 15th, 2024
SEHS Principal Discretion Results Out: April 12th, 2024
Link to handbook

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Have Questions on SEHS Principal Discretion?


Go to High School Resources



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Contact Info Office of Access & Enrollment


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42 W. Madison St, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60602

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