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Mayor Emanuel says it’s the biggest, anxious question that exists across the city of Chicago: Where am I going to send my child to high school?”

Most want them to go to one of the city’s selective enrollment schools, but while thousands apply only a few hundred get in.   It’s more difficult to get into one of the top cps high schools than it is to get into Harvard or Yale. Which is a sentiment shared by thousands of parents hoping their kids will get into Walter Payton College Prep, Northside College Prep, Whitney Young, Lane Tech or Jones College Prep, the top ranked high schools in the city, some are even ranked best in the nation.

Acceptance to a selective enrollment school is determined by points with 900 being the max.   Up to 300 points come from a student’s final 7th grade grades; each A  is 75 points, a B is 50 and a C is 25.

Another possible 300 come from 7th grade standardized tests and the last 300 are determined by the selective-enrollment entrance exam.

CPS automatically accepts the top 30 percent of scorers and many of this year’s candidates had perfect scores or came very close. The minimum accepted for Payton this year was 898. At Northside College Prep it was 897.

A look at the competitive world of selective enrollment school admission in ChicagoThe rest are pick according to tiers. It’s a complex calculation by CPS that divides city neighborhoods in one of four tiers based on income, number of single family homes and other census information.

Competition is also fierce when it comes to getting into CPS Academic Centers, college prep programs for 7th and 8th graders.

Students who are not accepted into a selective enrollment school have one last chance to get into by applying for principal discretion, where they appeal to the principal for admission but even then there are more applicants than available seats.   Veterans of this process suggest parents and students learn the ins and out of the application process and stay on top of any changes that CPS makes because they can happen at anytime.