Deadlines are fast approaching for parents applying for public school lotteries, private school admissions and federal financial aid. Even though the clock is ticking, you still have time to "catch the bus" if you hurry! Mark your calendars so you don't miss these upcoming school-related deadlines.
New Charter School
Did you know that another new charter school is opening next fall in Prince George's County, and it will be very different from other charter schools we've seen thus far? The College Park Academy, slated to open next school year in partnership with the University of Maryland, is designed to provide students with the opportunity to earn college credit before graduating from high school. Just think of the savings in college tuition if your kid could start taking university courses in middle or high school? The curriculum is expected to be rigorous so parents may want to think hard about whether CPA would be a good fit for their child. Students will be taught by teachers who are based at the academy as well as online instructors via the Internet. Like other charter schools, CPA will start with grades 6-7 and gradually expand to grade 12. Charter school acceptance is by lottery. The application deadline for the charter school lottery is just around the corner, Jan. 31.
Specialty Programs Lottery
You don't need to have a child already enrolled in county schools to get in on the lottery. But before you can enter the lottery, you need to obtain a student ID number from your designated boundary school, whether your child attends that school or not. Remember, you can apply for both charter schools as well as specialty programs such as French immersion, Montessori, performing arts, talented and gifted, etc. But there are separate deadlines for the two lotteries; applications for the specialty programs lottery are due March 11, according to a county brochure.
Applications are due Feb. 13 for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program offered at five public high schools (Central, Crossland, Laurel, Parkdale and Suitland). The college-level program boasts higher college acceptance rates and increased scholarship opportunities among IB students. Younger students can participate in another IB program for students ages 11-16 at James Madison Middle School and Frederick Douglass High School.
College Goal Sunday
Take some of the stress out of applying for federal financial aid for college. Register online to attend a College Goal Sunday event where volunteers will walk you through the FAFSA application free of charge. The events run through the end of February and will be held in various locations, including Prince George's Community College in Largo Feb. 2 and the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Landover Feb. 17. States and colleges have different FAFSA deadlines. In Maryland, the FAFSA deadline is March 1.
Many parents choose to conduct their private school search years in advance of their desired enrollment date. So if it's not urgent to apply for the 2013-14 school year, you can continue to pull together your application on your own timeframe, even as admissions season winds down in January. However, for some parents, a last-minute start on the admissions process may be worth a try. Although it can be overwhelming, it's not unprecedented for some parents to apply on the fly. Many private schools have a two-part application process, with a later deadline for the financial aid portion. However, waiting too late to get started on the financial aid part could literally cost you. Once you've been accepted, consider applying to schools that participate in special funding programs: A Better Chance, Black Student Fund (BSF), Latino Student Fund (LSF), and Emerging Scholars Program. Deadlines vary for such programs. For example, BSF applications are due prior to Feb. 1 while the LSF deadline is April 25 for students who have been admitted to a member school.
Summer Camp Registration
Now is the time to be thinking about your child's summer camp experience. Spots fill up quickly for popular summer educational camps sponsored by the Prince George's County Parks & Recreation Department. So be ready when registration opens Feb. 23 for county residents. The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) sponsors a free summer program in Washington, D.C. for students in grades 3-8. Registration for NSBE's Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) opened in January and continues until spaces are filled; so don't wait!