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). 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.
  • Attend 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. This year EdFEST will be held virtually. Download these helpful questions and ask them directly to schools you are interested in to help narrow your choices.
  • Attend school open houses. Attend an open house session or call the schools on your list to get a feel for the school and better understand what the commute to school looks like. Many schools are offering virtual tours this year.
  • 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).
    • Tip for students: If you complete a My School DC application, make sure to include your guardian’s email address in Section 2 of the application.
  • 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 allow yourself enough time to gather them prior to the February 1 application deadline. You will not be able to submit the application if you do not have all required information.
    • 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, but it does let us know the order in which you want to be matched to schools.
  • Select the schools on your list and rank them in the order you like them (1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc.). This is important!
  • 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 on a school's profile to view the number of seats offered in the past year's lottery and historical waitlist length and movement. 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 (e.g., 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 8 a.m. 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, enter your home address into the School Finder. You can see the distance from each school to your home address and view 8 a.m. transit times.

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. 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 My School DC Hotline at (202) 888-6336.

DCPS selective high schools and programs
DCPS selective high schools and programs do not have boundaries, do not offer lottery preferences, and admit students based on specific criteria. Students seeking to attend a DCPS selective high school or program must submit a My School DC application. DCPS has eight selective high schools and programs that admit students based on specific admissions requirements and selection criteria. Anyone can apply to these schools and programs. An applicant’s eligibility for admission is determined based on the school's admissions criteria and rubrics. Students applying to one or more DCPS selective high school or program must complete an additional section of the My School DC application on which schools may require the following components:

  • Report Cards. With the exception of Bard DC 9th and 10th grades, all DCPS selective high schools and programs require recent grades be uploaded to a student's My School DC application. Some schools ask that attendance information be included as well.
  • PARCC Scores. No PARCC scores will be required for school year 2021-22
  • Essay. Some schools require that essays be completed through the application and others require the essay to be completed in person. School Without Walls does not require an essay at all.
  • Recommendations. With the exception of School Without Walls, all selective high schools require two or three recommendations, which are submitted through the My School DC application.

IMPORTANT: All admission processes and criteria are subject to change based on health/COVID considerations.

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

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.

 

Adult or Alternative Education Options

There are public and public charter high schools that offer alternative programming 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.

 

SY2021-22 REQUIREMENTS FOR ADMISSION TO DCPS SELECTIVE HIGH SCHOOLS

 

BARD HIGH SCHOOL EARLY COLLEGE DC

Report Card: Final SY19-20 and SY20-21 First Quarter  report cards required for 11th graders only. GPA of 2.0 or above recommended.
PARCC Scores: No
Essay: Yes – for students who have not already completed the essay responses at one of the Bard DC open house events.        
Essay Questions:

Personal Responses – Respond to any two of the following four questions (recommended length per response is at least two paragraphs):

  • What are your plans, goals, or aspirations after high school? How will an early college education help you achieve them?
  • Describe a challenge that you've faced (in or outside of school). How have you tried to address or overcome it? What did you learn from it?
  • Describe yourself as a student, now and in the future: How do you currently interact with your classmates and your instructor? What sort of role do you see yourself playing in the classroom in high school? How do you plan to contribute to the Bard DC community?
  • What is an issue that matters to you, and why? How would you go about making the change you want to see?

 Text-Based Responses – Read the poem by Yusef Komunyakaa, Slam, Dunk, & Hook. Answer one of following two questions (recommended length is at least two paragraphs):

  • Describe something you believe Komunyakaa had hoped the reader would think about after reading his poem and explain what in the poem makes you think that. Please cite the text in your response.
  • Describe something in your personal experience that connects to the lines or message of the poem. Please cite the lines you reference.

Essay Character Limit*: 5,000 character limit per essay
Admissions Process: Application review; Essay; Individual interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): Math teacher; English teacher
Eligibility rubric (9th and 10th grades): (coming soon!)
Eligibility rubric (11th grade): (coming soon!)
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 11th

 

BENJAMIN BANNEKER HIGH SCHOOL

Report Card: Final SY19-20 and SY20-21 First Quarter, no minimum GPA requirement
PARCC Scores: No
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
Eligibility rubric (all grades): (coming soon!)
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 10th

 

COLUMBIA HEIGHTS EDUCATION CAMPUS (CHEC)

Report Card: Final SY19-20 and SY20-21 First Quarter; Attendance should be included on report card.
PARCC Scores: No
Essay: No essay; however, a student interest survey is required.
Admissions Process: Application review; Individual review
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher; Math teacher
Eligibility rubric (all grades): (coming soon!)
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 12th

 

DUKE ELLINGTON SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

Report Card: Final SY19-20 and SY20-21 First Quarter; Attendance should be included on report card.
PARCC Scores: No
Essay: Yes
Essay Questions:
Please write a paragraph explaining why (Dance, Instrumental Music, Literary Media and Communications, Museum Studies, Technical Design and Production or Arts Management, Theatre, Visual Arts, or Vocal Music) is important to you and what role art plays in your life.​

Additional Program Based Essay Questions:

  • Literary Media and Communications:
    • Please write a paragraph explaining your personal goals as an artist and any experiences you may have had that could impact your decision to pursue Literary Media and Communications. (5,000 character limit)
  • Technical Design and Production or Arts Management
    • Please define "Technical Design and Production or Arts Management". (2000 characters)
    • Explain why you are interested in Technical Design and Production or Arts Management, including your interest in specific aspect of technical design and production (example: lights, costume, sound, set, stage management, etc.,), and what you plan to do with the training you receive from Ellington's Technical Design and Production department. (5,000 character limit)

Essay Character Limit*: 5,000 characters
Admissions Process: Application review; Audition; Academic placement assessment; Family interview
RECOMMENDATIONS  (completed online through  My School DC application): Math teacher; Art teacher (or other); Counselor
Eligibility rubric (all grades): (coming soon!)
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 12th­

 

EARLY COLLEGE ACADEMY at COOLIDGE HIGH SCHOOL

Report Card: Final SY19-20 and SY20-21 First Quarter
PARCC Scores: No
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*: 5,000 characters
Admissions Process: Application review; Family interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher, Math teacher
Eligibility rubric (9th and 10th grades): (coming soon!)
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th and 10th

 

McKINLEY TECHNOLOGY HIGH SCHOOL

Report Card: Final SY19-20 and SY20-21 First Quarter; GPA of 3.0 or above recommended
PARCC Scores: No
Essay: Yes (To be completed through McKinley Tech; not through the My School DC application.)
Admissions Process: Application review; Essay and Individual interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher; Math teacher; Counselor
Eligibility rubric (9th through 11th grades): (coming soon!)
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th - 11th

 

PHELPS ARCHITECTURE, CONSTRUCTION, AND ENGINEERING HIGH SCHOOL

Report Card: Final SY19-20 and SY20-21 First Quarter; Attendance should be included on report card.
PARCC Scores: No 
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*: 5,000 characters
Admissions Process: Application review; Family interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher; Math teacher
Eligibility rubric (9th through 11th grades): (coming soon!)
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th - 11th

 

SCHOOL WITHOUT WALLS HIGH SCHOOL

Report Card: Final SY19-20 and SY20-21 First Quarter, GPA of 3.0 or above required on the final SY19-20 report card
PARCC Scores: No
Essay: No
Admissions Process: Application review; Admissions test; Student & Parent / Guardian interviews
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): None
Eligibility rubric (all grades): (coming soon!)
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 12th­

 

*The My School DC application does not have spellcheck or character count. It is recommended that students first write their essay in a Word document to check for spelling and character count limits, save, then copy and paste onto the application when ready.