What to know about applying to Wake early colleges and magnet, year-round schools

The clock has begun running for Wake County families to decide where they want their children to attend school next year, especially if they don’t want to go to their assigned school.

The application period for early colleges, which allow students to get a high school diploma and up to two years of college credit, has already opened and runs to Nov. 30. The application period for year-round schools and magnet schools, which offer students unique themes or academic programs, is from Jan. 4-30.

Some families will attend the school system’s fair for early colleges, magnet schools and year-round schools on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Southeast Raleigh High School, 2600 Rock Quarry Road in Raleigh.

Here are some things to consider as you evaluate your school options:

What are my chances of getting accepted?

For the 2018-19 school year, Wake County placed 4,638 of the 9,372 applicants into magnet schools, early colleges and year-round schools. That’s an acceptance rate of 49.5 percent.

The breakdown was 2,999 of 6,000 magnet school applicants, or 49.9 percent. It was 670 of 1,420 early college applicants, or 47.1 percent. It was 969 of 1,952 year-round school applicants, or 49.6 percent.

But even within these numbers, the chance of success varies because some schools are more popular. For instance, only 53 of 256 applicants got into Washington Elementary School in Raleigh, while all 113 applicants were approved for Reedy Creek Middle School in Cary.

This past year was the first time people could apply to attend the new International Baccalaureate magnet program at West Millbrook Middle School in Raleigh. The school accepted 32 of 42 applicants.

Go to https://bit.ly/2SzKv2m to view school-by-school application results for the 2018-19 school year. Go to https://bit.ly/2ACCkvg to view results for past years.

Timing matters

Some parents say they want to give their assigned school a try before applying to go elsewhere. That can be a big mistake.

It’s significantly easier getting into a school for kindergarten, sixth-grade or ninth-grade because that’s where the most openings exist. For instance, Wake placed 662 of 1,313 students who applied for kindergarten seats at magnet schools compared to only 21 of 311 students for first grade.

Priority matters

Families who intend to apply to more than one program should keep in mind that some applications have higher priority than others.

If you’re accepted into an early college, you will not be considered for a seat at a magnet school or year-round school.

In a change being made for this year, magnet school officials say selection to a year-round school will no longer supersede a magnet application. Families will be able to rank magnet and year-round schools together, listing up to seven schools on the application.

Within each program, Wake follows certain selection priorities. For instance, students from middle-to-upper income areas get priority at most magnet schools, and students who’d be first in their family to attend college get preference at early colleges.

Pros and cons

Families choose magnet schools, early colleges and year-round schools for a variety of reasons, such as getting access to educational opportunities they can’t get at their base school. Another plus for magnet schools and early colleges is that once you’re accepted you don’t have to worry about being reassigned to a different school.

But there are some cons that discourage families from applying.

Most magnet schools and early colleges are near downtown Raleigh, which can make for long commutes for students who come from the suburbs. Some schools offer limited or no school bus options for families.

Learn more

Go to https://www.wcpss.net/domain/90 for more information. The site includes links to applications and information on different programs and school tours.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui
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