How to Get Into L.A.’s Magnet, Charter, and Private High Schools

Not interested in the neighborhood high? The basics of branching out

Even at its most prestigious magnets, the L.A. Unified School District must choose students based on a point system, not grades or test scores. What counts most for magnet high schools is having been enrolled in a magnet for lower grades. Admission points for opportunities in elementary school are awarded for living where schools are overcrowded or students are predominantly minorities. Having been on a magnet waiting list before also earns points. Guidelines can be found at

Applying to a public charter is relatively easy. There are no boundary restrictions. If a charter has room, it has to take you. If oversubscribed, it must usually hold a lottery to decide who gets in. The California Charter School Association ( has information about rules and schools.

Popular private schools have far more applicants than spaces. The best bet: Apply for the lowest grade; upper grades are full of previously enrolled students and their siblings. But there are exceptions. This year, for example, Flintridge Prep had 50 ninth-grade openings.