How to Apply at a Charter School

In the United States, a charter school is an offshoot of the public school system that can be proposed and started by a private group. With the exception of the facilities, charter schools are funded with public money. For this reason, they are closely monitored and given a time frame in which to succeed academically. Charter programs were first approved in 1970s, and have increased in large numbers, according to the Public School Review. Because of a charter school's ability to step outside of the regular public school curriculum, many people feel they are more akin to the smaller focus of a private school. According to the New York City Charter School Center, in 2008 there were more than 39,000 applications submitted for only 8,500 openings within New York City charter schools. Despite the competition, you can apply to a charter school using the following steps.


  1. Image titled Apply at a Charter School Step 1
    Determine which charter schools are nearest to you. In the United States, 39 of the 50 states have charter schools. Choosing a school near you will require that you determine if the distance is feasible for a daily commute.
  2. Image titled Apply at a Charter School Step 2
    Look at the charter school's academic record and curriculum. Check The National Charter School Directory, which has a list of all charter schools in the United States. The schools and their curriculum and requirements are listed by state, and individual schools are required to report academic performance.
  3. Image titled Apply at a Charter School Step 3
    Visit the charter school before applying. Plan a meeting with the principal of the charter school to evaluate the school.
    • Observe the academic atmosphere of the school. Ask about the school's mission statement and philosophy, its academic progress, the types of strategies, resources and technology employed, and student progress and discipline.
    • Ask for information regarding the charter holder. Inquire about who started the charter and when, how the holder(s) maintain the facilities, what the main focus of the school is, how the teachers are chosen, and what credentials the teachers must hold.
  4. Image titled Apply at a Charter School Step 4
    Apply for admission. Charter school admission policies vary by state and school. Inquire about the enrollment process at the school. Some charter schools work on a lottery, while others have waiting lists. The lottery system will require that you request the charter school as your top choice. Some lotteries are available a few times a year. The lottery will then be drawn at random. Waiting lists usually operate on a first-come, first-served basis upon the availability of positions within the school.
    • Ask for a general application form. This form typically will include general information about the child, such as name, gender, race, address and parent information. Most charter schools will not require fees for an application.
    • Inquire about other forms necessary for application. Many charter schools will require additional application forms based on their focus of education. For example, a charter school for gifted children may require a test application, letters of reference or nomination forms.


  • Most charter schools require that the student is a resident of the state where the school is located prior to filling out an application.

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Categories: Applying for Tertiary Education