You Got Your GoCPS Letter. Now What?

The moment has arrived!  You got your CPS results.  

Before you do anything else, take a deep breath. Remember, GoCPS is largely a lottery system and the results in the letter you received this week have little to nothing to do with the academic potential of your child. These letters say much more about the educational system in Chicago, where, as in much of the country, access to a quality education comes through  a “lottery.”

If you want to ask specific questions about your child’s situation, join me for a Facebook Live event tomorrow!

As a recap, here are the different types of Chicago public elementary schools:

  1. Selective enrollment (test-based)
  2. Choice Schools (lottery based)
  3. Neighborhood schools (residency based)  
  4. Charter schools (not run by CPS and enrollment based on individual charter schools)

For more about these types, see my earlier post about applying to CPS.

GoCPS sends two different letters: one for selective enrollment and another for Choice schools. (Elementary charter schools manage their own enrollment separate from the GoCPS process.)

Here’s how to access your letter:

If you applied online go to


Click on results

Your Selective Enrollment letter will let you know whether your child won a seat at one or more Selective Enrollment schools. The letter will say Offered or Waitlist and give you a wait list number.

If your child won a seat, congratulations! You have successfully gotten your child into a school that is harder to get admission than HARVARD!!!

It is time to “Celebrate!”

GoCPS sends a separate letter telling you your acceptance and wait lists for all other CPS schools you applied to outside your zoned neighborhood school. This includes magnet, magnet cluster or neighborhood schools where your child doesn’t  live in the zone. If you want more information on the differences between those schools please click here.  

Okay, all caught up.

Here is an example of a “choice-school acceptance letter.”

  1. If the words OFFERED appears, that means your child has earned admission!  This is your time to celebrate! Wait, call and/or email confirmation first!!! Do it now!  You MUST confirm your offer by May 6. If you fail to confirm, your child will lose the slot!

Okay, now it’s your  time to celebrate!

Multiple acceptances.  It is possible to get accepted to more than one school. In the sample letter, there are acceptances to Disney, Nettlehorst and Newberry.  Now you have to decide which one is best for you. Call right away and try to visit your schools or attend any Open Houses for prospective new parents.    

Things to take into consideration:

School location

School hours

Before and after school care

Is it a good fit for your family?

Commute time

Whatever you decide, make sure to confirm one by May 6.  You can only accept ONE school.

No acceptances.  That means your child was not chosen for any of the schools

where you applied,  based solely off a lottery.  This says nothing about your child or their intelligence.  It is literally a lottery. Somehow they have gotten away with scratch-off lottery options for our children (end of rant #2)

The hard part… what I call CPS PURGATORY…THE WAIT LIST…

About the waitlist…this is going to be a long, complicated, and nonsensical process.  I will try my hardest to guide you through this, first explaining what CPS says it means and then what it really means (based on stories, research, and those who have been through purgatory)

Options: Choice Schools



Waitlist: Round 1. After all the people have selected their schools, the choice school that still have availability, will begin going through their waitlist. In theory, the higher number your number on the waitlist, the more likely it is that you will be accepted to school. That is NOT factual. Well, in theory, it is, but in practice, you are just as likely to get an acceptance to a school that you were 40 on the waitlist as number 2.  

ShaRhonda tip:  There are a lot of factors that go into the waitlist, so as a precaution, I would suggest you assume there’s a possibility of getting into ANY school that you are on the waitlist for, regardless of your number.

Also, remember that choice school offers can come anytime between now and the early  months of next school year! Yup, you can be enrolled at a school in September 3rd and get an offer to a school on your waitlist on September 15th!  Admission is ongoing until October! Unfortunately, there is no way to predict who will have space. Again, in theory, it is based on the waitlist.


What exactly is Round 2?  Okay, CPS now has a round 2 application process. However, the name is a little misleading.  Round 2 application is an opportunity for parents who didn’t apply to choice schools in round 1, to reapply.  However, in round 2, you can only choose from schools that have availability. Meaning, schools that have a waitlist will NOT be a part of the second round!

To clarify: if you are on a waitlist from round 1, you will still be placed at a school BEFORE someone on round 2 of the CPS application process.  The Round 2 Application Process will start on May 22nd.

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ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson

ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson is the mother of two free-spirited, strong-willed girls and has a husband who should be appointed a saint for co-existing in the madness that is their life. She writes on politics, education, current events and social justice. She is also a taco enthusiast, a proud member of the Bey-hive, and truly believes that she will be receiving her letter from Hogwarts any day now. Find her on Twitter at @S_KnottDawson.