How Does Selective Enrollment Work in Chicago?

For low-income families and students in Chicago, the path to quality education can be a challenging one. The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system offers a unique opportunity for academically talented students through Selective Enrollment High Schools. In this article, we’ll delve into how selective enrollment works in Chicago, providing insight into the process, benefits, and key information. Additionally, we’ll introduce you to Evergreen Learning Chicago, an organization that provides free tutoring to help Chicago students excel academically.

Understanding Selective Enrollment High Schools

Selective Enrollment High Schools in Chicago are public high schools that offer advanced and challenging educational opportunities to academically gifted students. These schools provide a rigorous curriculum, specialized programs, and a diverse learning environment. Admission to these schools is competitive, making them a desirable option for families seeking high-quality education.

The Application Process

  1. Eligibility: To be eligible for selective enrollment, students must reside in the city of Chicago. They can be current eighth graders or high school students looking to transfer.
  2. Standardized Test Scores: Applicants must take the Selective Enrollment High School Admissions Test (SEHSAT). The SEHSAT evaluates students’ academic abilities in reading, math, and language arts.
  3. GPA: Your child’s final seventh-grade report card GPA will also be considered in the application process.
  4. Counselor Evaluation: Teachers and counselors will evaluate your child’s performance, and letters of recommendation may be required.
  5. Ranking and Tiers: Chicago is divided into four socio-economic “tiers” to promote diversity. Applicants are ranked within their respective tiers, with a certain percentage of seats reserved for each tier.
  6. Applying for Multiple Schools: You can select up to six selective enrollment schools on your application, ranked in order of preference. It’s essential to choose schools that match your child’s academic strengths and interests.
  7. Selective Enrollment Process: The CPS Office of Access and Enrollment reviews all applications. Students are then offered seats based on their test scores, GPA, and the availability of seats in the selected schools.

Important Dates

The application process for selective enrollment in Chicago typically begins in the fall of the eighth-grade year. It’s crucial to be aware of the deadlines, which may vary from year to year. Generally, the application period opens in October and closes in December. Notification of acceptance usually occurs in the spring.

Benefits of Selective Enrollment

  1. High Academic Standards: Selective enrollment high schools offer a challenging curriculum, pushing students to reach their full academic potential.
  2. Diverse Learning Environment: The tier system promotes diversity within these schools, fostering a rich cultural and social environment.
  3. Specialized Programs: Many selective enrollment schools offer specialized programs in areas such as STEM, the arts, and humanities.
  4. College Readiness: These schools are known for preparing students for college, offering advanced placement courses and college guidance services.
  5. Extracurricular Activities: Students have access to a wide range of extracurricular activities, allowing them to explore their interests beyond the classroom.

Evergreen Learning Chicago: Free Tutoring for Chicago Students

Evergreen Learning Chicago is an invaluable resource for low-income families in Chicago. They provide free tutoring services to help students excel academically. Their mission is to bridge the educational gap and support students in reaching their full potential.

Services Offered

  1. One-on-One Tutoring: Evergreen Learning Chicago offers personalized tutoring sessions to address students’ specific needs and challenges.
  2. Group Workshops: Students can participate in group workshops, which are interactive and engaging, fostering a love for learning.
  3. Homework Assistance: Tutors assist with homework, ensuring that students understand the material and can complete assignments effectively.
  4. Test Preparation: For students applying to selective enrollment high schools, Evergreen Learning Chicago offers test preparation programs to help them perform their best on the SEHSAT.
  5. College and Career Guidance: Evergreen Learning Chicago provides guidance on college and career choices, helping students plan for their future.


Evergreen Learning Chicago is dedicated to supporting low-income families and students in Chicago. Their services are available to students from all backgrounds, and they particularly focus on providing assistance to those who may face barriers to academic success due to their financial situation.


Selective enrollment in Chicago offers a pathway to exceptional education for academically gifted students. Understanding the application process and the benefits of these high schools is crucial for families looking to provide their children with top-quality education.

In addition to selective enrollment, organizations like Evergreen Learning Chicago provide invaluable support for students in Chicago. Their free tutoring services help level the playing field and ensure that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background, have access to the educational resources they need to succeed.

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