HISD magnet schools more selective than Harvard

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Did you know that it's easier to get into Harvard than it is HISD's top magnet schools? That is according to a local academic consulting firm.

If you want your kids to try and make the switch, this is the week to explore HISD's Magnet Program. The online application is now available, and parents can tour some of the district's best schools.

If you'd like for your child to be immersed in a foreign language, you can enroll them at the Mandarin Chinese Immersion School. Your kids can earn an associate's degree while at Jones Futures Academy. But it won't be easy to get them in. You'll have to apply to HISD's magnet school program, along with thousands of other parents.

Wendy Fong did it not too long ago.

"I was really concerned that we wouldn't get into a magnet school," Fong said.

Fong wanted her son Jacob to attend Mark Twain Elementary's magnet program because she saw it as a better option than her zoned school, and so did other parents she was talking to.

"We were talking about how stressed we were and we couldn't believe that we were just trying to get him into kindergarten," she said.

That's because these days-getting him into a magnet kindergarten is tougher than you think.

Shelby Joe owns an academic consulting firm. He and his team crunched the numbers and came up with a list of the top 10 magnet programs in HISD.

"It's easier to get into Harvard than it is to get into the top five, top 10 HISD magnet schools," Joe said.

Twain elementary ranked as the most coveted school. Of the 748 kids that applied last year, only 13 got in. Johnston Middle School received 1273 applications but accepted less than one-third (391)! Carnegie Vanguard High School saw
1,447 applications and only accepted 175.

Why are there so few spots? Magnet programs have become so popular and tend do better academically that parents are now more inclined to send their kids to the magnet neighborhood school.

"If you want to go to the top 10, the top 15 schools just understand from the beginning that you have less than a 10 percent chance of getting in," Joe said.

Students are randomly chosen via lottery. To improve your chances , Joe suggests applying to as many schools as possible. HISD sets the limit at 10. Also, include less coveted schools in your list. Be mindful of deadlines-this year all applications need to be submitted online by Dec. 19.

Fong's son didn't get in to their top choices, but finally found a home at the Mandarin Chinese Immersion School.

"It was just a huge sigh of relief. it was like yes we don't have to worry about this anymore," Fong said.

HISD magnet schools listings
Available programs at HISD magnet schools
Top HISD schools by STAAR test scores
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