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Choosing a school for your scholar can be one of the most important decisions a parent or guardian can make. School choice is a powerful tool for parents as they work to ensure that their scholars not only receive a great education, but are in an environment that is a good fit for their personality and interests.

It is important to remember that just because a school is popular, or just because it charges tuition, or just because it is in a “good” neighborhood, doesn’t mean that the school is right for your family. Follow these simple tips to help guide you through the school choice process.

  1. Talk with your child: Think about your family’s needs, and your child’s interests and strengths. Make a list of the elements that are most important to you in a school.
  2. Research local public, private and charter schools to find out whether they charge tuition, what sort of services they offer, and what their enrollment policies are like.
  3. Visit schools in your area or go to the Minneapolis School Fair Showcase to meet principals and teachers from the schools.
  4. Ask questions of the school staff. Ask to sit in and observe a classroom. Ask if your scholar can shadow a student for a day.
  5. Apply to your top schools. Remember to ask about scholarship applications if the school charges tuition.

Waiting lists

It’s disappointing when your child doesn’t get the school on the top of your list, but don’t give up — get busy! Contact your school to ask about the waiting list — and make sure to follow the procedures and meet their deadlines. There’s typically a lot of movement after the first acceptance decisions are made, and spots often open up.


Public schools are tuition-free schools that are funded by state and local governments. There are two types of public schools:

  • Magnet schools have a theme such as performing arts, math/science, or international humanities. They still teach the same general curriculum — for instance, a math/science magnet still offers language arts and social studies — but embed the theme in the curriculum. Magnet schools often enroll students from outside the school’s neighborhood.
  • Community schools are schools that enroll most of its students from the surrounding neighborhood. Community schools often offer a shorter commute, but their programs are less specialized than magnet schools.

Charter schools offer another option for public school choice. Typically they are run outside the local school district, but they are still tuition-free and offer many of the same services as public schools. Single schools may constitute a “district, “or multiple charter schools may form a single network, like at Hiawatha Academies. Some charter schools have themes like magnet schools do, like college-preparatory or performing arts.

Private schools usually charge tuition and sometimes have rigorous application processes. Some have themes similar to magnet and charter schools. Some offer religious services or even boarding (like dorm rooms).

School Choice Chart

(Adapted from and Minneapolis Public Schools)