How do I enroll?

Things to know:

You’ve done your homework and narrowed down your list of schools, so now it’s time to work on getting your child a seat in one of your top choices. If you choose the public school you’re zoned to, there’s little left to do but register, which is when you’ll provide proof of residency, immunizations and such. Some local districts do that in the spring. Shelby County Schools open online registration in the summer.

But if you’re not picking your neighborhood school, you’ll need to make sure you know the key enrollment dates for the schools you’re hoping for, such as:

  • The date enrollment windows open
  • Application and financial aid deadlines
  • Testing dates

Do your research online, but also ask when you’re visiting the schools – things can change and websites don’t always get updated with the most recent info. Be pleasantly persistent in following up with schools you haven’t heard back from yet. Finally, don’t put all your eggs in one basket – there’s competition for spots at some popular schools, so you’ll want to have a backup plan in case your first choice doesn’t work out.

Also check out:

Public Traditional and iZone Schools

For Shelby County Schools, you’ll use the General Choice Transfer process which opens in late January.(Though a select few SCS schools have independent admissions processes, so be sure to check schools’ profiles for details.) Other districts call it Open Enrollment. Regardless, it’s typically first-come, first-served, so take note of the date (and even time!) enrollment windows open, and get your application in early. Some districts won’t accept transfer requests after the end of the spring enrollment window, so make sure you know how long you have to submit applications. We’ll provide Open Enrollment dates on the School Districts page, as they become available.

Public Optional Schools

All Optional schools are part of the Shelby County Schools district. Students must qualify for spots in most Optional schools based on their test scores (requirements vary by school), attendance and behavior. Kids who live in the school’s zone and meet the school’s Optional requirements get first priority for Optional seats. After that, all other students who meet the school’s Optional requirements are enrolled on a first-come, first-served basis once they open the process. SCS typically begins handing out bar-coded applications in late January, and then will accept those bar-coded applications at the end of the week. If you’re planning to apply for an Optional school, be sure to read our full Optional guide.

Public Charter Schools

All local charter schools are part of either the Shelby County Schools district or the Achievement School District. How you enroll depends on which district your desired school is in — info you can find on each school’s Memphis School Guide profile page. For both districts, it’s important to know that, in Tennessee, charter schools are not allowed to deny admission to students on the basis of ability or performance, so there are no entrance exams or interviews required before a student enrolls.

  • Shelby County School charters: All SCS charters enroll separately, using unique timelines and procedures. In other words, there’s no standardization in when they begin accepting applications. We provide enrollment details on each charter school’s profile page, when they give it to us, but if you don’t find it here, call the school early to ask.
  • Achievement School District charters: Most ASD charters, though not all, have attendance zones, and priority is given to students living within that zone. But in some cases, you can select an ASD school that you’re not zoned to. ASD charters that don’t have enrollment zones act more like SCS charters — they typically each do their own thing. Get details on how to navigate the ASD enrollment process by visiting their section of the Greater Memphis School Districts page.

Private Schools

Local private schools also have their own unique enrollment timelines and requirements. Most require an application fee, and some require testing, interviews, student and/or parent statements, and more. We put details on each school’s Memphis School Guide profile, as they are provided to us, but because private school admission procedures are all so different, your safest bet is to visit each school’s website or contact its admission office directly to make sure you know exactly what is expected by each school. Many schools accept applications any time, but some may give priority to applications made by a certain deadline. You’ll also want to pay careful attention to any financial aid deadlines. Many private schools offer financial help, but once the money’s gone, it’s gone.