Applying to High School

Applying to High School

The District is home to over 30 public and public charter high schools (grades 9-12). Students can apply to up to 12 high schools on the My School DC application. They also have the option of enrolling directly at their DCPS in-boundary high school or applying to a school that does not participate in My School DC. My School DC can help you navigate your high school options.

 

Learn About Your High School Options

  • Make a list. Use the School Finder and search for schools by address, grade and program type (such as interscholastic sports, STEM, AP classes, and more). You can also locate your in-boundary school using the School Finder by entering your home address.
  • Check out the high schools’ school profiles. They show basic information about each school, such as contact information and extracurricular activities offered, and you can view their open house schedules.
  • Understand each school’s requirements. Some high schools are selective and have specific admissions requirements students must meet (see section on selective high schools below), some have age cutoffs, and some require transcript reviews of credits earned for promotion to the grade you’re applying to. (For example, some schools do not give credit for classes where a “D” is earned in a class.) Work with your middle school counselor for guidance on requirements.
  • Go to EdFEST and other school fairs. EdFEST is the citywide public school fair. All DCPS and public charter high schools exhibit at EdFEST in December and there are smaller fairs later in the year. Download these helpful questions, bring them with you to ask at school booths on your list to help narrow your choices.
  • Visit schools. Visit or call the schools on your list to get a feel for the school and what the commute to school looks like.
  • Use your networks. It is helpful to talk with people you know (e.g., neighbors, friends, school counselors) who are knowledgeable about the schools you are thinking of applying to.
  • Decide your ranking. You will rank your final list of schools in the order you like them (your 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc.). Ranking your list in this order is important. Here’s why.

 

APPLY by FEBRUARY 1

  • Set up one family account. This account will be used to submit your application and any siblings’ applications (if applicable).
  • Gather all of the information you need to complete your My School DC application.
    • Remember: Selective high schools and programs require additional information on the My School DC application. Learn about these requirements below and make sure you allow yourself enough time to gather them prior to the February 1 application deadline.
    • If you have a mix of public charter schools, DCPS selective schools and programs, and traditional DCPS high schools, you still rank them together and in the order you like them. The order you rank your schools does not affect your chances of acceptance to a selective school nor does it affect any preferences you may qualify for such as sibling or transfer preference.
  • Select the schools on your list and rank them in the order you like them (1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc.).
  • Review your choices to ensure they are ranked in the order you like most, and submit your application. You have until February 1 to make any edits on your application and until March 15 to update your school rankings.

TIP: There is no guarantee of a lottery match or waitlist offer at the schools you apply to. Apply to all schools you are willing to attend. Click here to view the number of seats offered and historical waitlist length and movement at each school that participates in My School DC. Note that not all schools have offered seats to students in every grade.

 

Transcripts and Credits

All public DC high schools have minimum graduation requirements. Individual schools may have additional required courses and the threshold for a passing grade can vary (i.e., you can earn credit with a “D” at one high school, but need at least a “C” at another). Many schools do require a transcript review in order for a student to enroll and a passing grade at one school does not necessarily earn credit at another.


Types of Public High Schools


Public Charter Schools
DC public charter schools are tuition-free public schools that do not have boundaries and are open to all DC residents without selective entrance requirements. Students seeking to be a new student at a public charter high school (grades 9-12) must complete a My School DC application. To begin your search, use the School Finder and narrow by grade and program type. You can see the distance from each school to your home address and view 8AM transit times.

DCPS Schools
Each student that resides in the District of Columbia has a DCPS elementary, middle and high school they have a right to attend for grades K-12 based on the school boundary in which they live. These schools are often referred to as a student’s in-boundary or neighborhood school. Students who seek to attend their in-boundary high school (grades 9-12) can directly enroll at that school. A My School DC application is not required. DCPS also has a number of citywide schools that do not have boundaries. Students who wish to attend a citywide school or a school that is not their in-boundary school must complete a My School DC application. To find your DCPS in-boundary high school, use the School Finder and search by home address.

Feeder Schools
Students enrolled in a middle school or education campus may have the right to attend that school’s feeder high school (grades 9-12) – i.e., the high school assigned to that school’s feeder pattern – by directly enrolling at that school. A My School DC application is not required. To find out if your middle school has a feeder high school, use the School Finder and search by grade and school name or click here. If you accept a seat at a school outside your feeder pattern, you may lose the right to that feeder pattern. Please check with your school for more information or call the Hotline at (202) 888-6336.

DCPS selective high schools and programs
DCPS selective high schools and programs are citywide options with no boundaries. Students seeking to attend a DCPS selective high school or program must submit a My School DC application. DCPS has seven selective high schools and one selective program that admit students based on specific admissions requirements and selection criteria. Anyone can apply to these schools, but only students who meet the school’s requirements will be eligible to attend that school. Students applying to one or more DCPS selective high school or program must complete an additional section of the My School DC application. In this section, applicants may need to provide:

  • PARCC scores in math and in English language arts/literacy
  • Final report card from the 2017–18 school year 
  • Most recent report card from the 2018–19 school year
  • Essay
  • Email addresses for teachers, administrators, and counselors who will provide recommendations (The My School DC system automatically sends the request to your recommenders who then submit the recommendation forms. This mean you do not have to collect the recommendations yourself.)

Please note, admission to a selective high school or program is based on students meeting specific criteria, not random lottery. More here on how the lottery matching works.

Familiarize yourself with each selective high school and program’s application requirements and selection criteria below.

TIP: Students: Write your essay in a Word document first to check for spelling (the application does not have spellcheck), word and character count. Save, then copy and paste onto the application when ready.

Click here to download a copy of the requirements for selective high schools and programs (PDF)

Adult or Alternative Education Options

There are public and public charter high schools that serve special populations and do not participate in the My School DC lottery program. The District also has a ReEngagement Center that offers a range of services to District youth (ages 16-24) not currently in school and who don’t have a high school diploma or GED to help them reconnect to educational options and other critical services to support their attainment of a diploma or GED. Visit https://backontrackdc.osse.dc.gov/about to learn more.

 

BARD HIGH SCHOOL EARLY COLLEGE

Minimum GPA: None. Transcript required for 11th graders only.
Essay: Yes (to be completed at Bard, and not through the My School DC application)
Admissions Process: Application review; Essay (on-site); Interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): Math teacher
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th and 11th

 

BENJAMIN BANNEKER

Minimum GPA: 3.0 GPA (SY18-19 First Quarter)
Minimum Standardized Test Requirements: Score of “met” or “exceeded expectations” in both math and reading on the PARCC exam or any standardized test
Essay: Yes       
Essay Question: Discuss why you wish to attend Benjamin Banneker Academic High School.
Essay Character Limit: Word count: 250 words; Character limit: 5,000
Admissions Process: Application review; Family interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher; Math teacher; Counselor; Principal
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 10th

 

COLUMBIA HEIGHTS EDUCATION CAMPUS (CHEC)

Minimum GPA / Attendance Requirements: Minimum 2.5 GPA (SY18-19 First Quarter); Attendance rate of 90%
Minimum Standardized Test Requirements: None
Essay: No essay; however, a student interest survey is required.
Essay Question: N/A
Essay Character Limit: N/A
Admissions Process: Application review (including attendance/tardies & grades); Individual review
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher, Math teacher, Counselor
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 12th

 

EARLY COLLEGE [email protected]

Minimum GPA: 3.0 GPA (SY18-19 First Quarter) recommended
Minimum Standardized Test Requirements: Score of “met” or “exceeded expectations” in both math and reading on the PARCC exam or any state standardized test recommended
Essay: Yes
Essay Question: What are your college/career goals after high school? What steps have you already taken to prepare for those goals? How do you believe the Coolidge High School Early College Academy will help you achieve those goals?
Essay Character Limit: 500 words total
Admissions Process: Application review; Family interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher, Math teacher, Counselor
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th

 

DUKE ELLINGTON SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

Minimum GPA / Attendance Requirements: None*
Minimum Standardized Test Requirements: None*
Essay: Yes
Essay Questions:
#1: Please write a paragraph explaining why this art (selected in the application) is important to you - and what role art plays in your life.​

#2: Most applicants audition for a single arts area, however you may also request an audition for a 2nd arts area. Please write a paragraph explaining why this art (selected in the application) is important to you - and what role art plays in your life.​

Essay Character Limit: 2,000 per essay
Admissions Process: Application review; Audition; Admissions test; Family interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher; Math teacher; Art teacher (or other)
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 12th­

*Note: Although the school has no minimum requirements, you must provide these documents in your application.

 

McKINLEY TECH

Minimum GPA: Minimum 3.0 GPA in 4 Core Classes (ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies), in final SY17-18 Report Card & in SY18-19 First Quarter
Minimum Standardized Test Requirements: Score of “met” or “exceeded expectations” in both math and reading on the PARCC exam or any state standardized test
Essay: Yes
Essay Question: Share one experience that has sparked personal growth and has impacted your understanding of yourself and others significantly. (Note: Although applicants may choose to solicit assistance with this writing prompt, it is important that the final narrative be the original work of each student. All applicants should consider sharing a significant account that can be discussed if selected for an interview.)
Essay Character Limit: 300 words or less. Essays should be AT LEAST 2 paragraphs long. Character limit: 5,000
Admissions Process: Application review; Interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher; Math teacher; Counselor
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th - 11th

 

PHELPS ARCHITECTURE, CONSTRUCTION, AND ENGINEERING

Minimum GPA / Attendance Requirements: Minimum 2.4 GPA (SY18-19 First Quarter) / Attendance rate of 95% or higher (last 4 marking periods)  
Minimum Standardized Test Requirements: Score of “met” or “exceeded expectations” in both math and reading on any standardized test. 
Essay: Yes
Essay Question: Describe and evaluate one experience that significantly influenced your academic interests in Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School
Essay Character Limit: Character limit: 5,000
Admissions Process: Application review; Family interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher; Math teacher
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th - 11th

 

SCHOOL WITHOUT WALLS

Minimum GPA: Minimum 3.0 GPA in core subjects on final SY17-18 report card
Minimum Standardized Test Requirements: Score of “met” or “exceeded expectations” in both math and reading on the PARCC exam or any standardized test
Essay: No
Essay Question: N/A
Essay Character Limit: N/A
Admissions Process: Application review; Admissions test; Student & Parent interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): None
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 12th­