Navigating the Magnet School Application Process in Connecticut

As a parent, you know that getting your child into the right school is a top priority. Between checking out the local public school, learning about your magnet and charter school options, and keeping private education in the back of your mind, there are a lot of Connecticut school possibilities to consider! Of course, you probably already have a few top picks on your radar. Maybe you’re planning to submit several applications. Where do you begin?

If you’re considering a magnet school education for your child, it’s important to understand this specific application process – which can get a little complicated! We’re here to address all of your magnet school application questions, especially in regards to admission to Goodwin College’s magnet schools: Riverside Magnet School, for Pre-K through 5th graders, as well as Connecticut River Academy, for high schoolers.

You might know already that magnet school admission in Connecticut is decided by a lottery, conducted by Connecticut’s Regional School Choice Office (RSCO). This office centralizes all magnet school applications for over 45 magnet schools every year. In order to ensure a fair chance for all families, any Connecticut student who is entering grades pre-K through 12th grade is eligible to enter the lottery. So, you might be wondering, “If there are 45 schools to choose from, why is there a lottery at all?” Well, magnet schools are a popular choice! Typically, there are more applications than number of seats available in each entering class.

To gather information and jumpstart the magnet school application process, parents and guardians should research their options online and ask prospective schools any questions via phone, chat, or e-mail. You can even visit individual schools for open houses, parent information sessions, or to shadow a current student. In addition, here are some helpful application tips:

  • If possible, apply when your child is entering the earliest grade offered at your school of choice; for example, Pre-K or Kindergarten for elementary school, or 9th grade for high school
  • Understand the odds: by knowing the amount of available seats at any particular school, you can better perceive the possibilities of admission
  • Carefully consider which school you plan to mark as your first choice!

So, how do I apply?

After choosing the magnet schools you wish to apply to, you can begin the application process. All magnet school applications must be submitted online through the RSCO website. After registering with an e-mail and password, you’ll be able to enter your child’s information and enter the lottery! Each child must have their own application to be considered. The application period for the 2018-19 school year opened on November 1, 2017, and closes on February 28, 2018. In the Spring, a computer-based system sorts and places students in available seats. There is no weight bearing on when you apply during the application period, so it will not make a difference if you submit your application in December or February. For more information, please visit

What if my child does not get placed in their first choice?

Any student not placed during the initial lottery round will be put on a wait list. As other students decline or accept their offers, a space at your school of choice may open up. There will be a deadline to declare acceptance or refusal in order to allow this second round of acceptances to occur. Until you receive confirmation that your child has been placed in a magnet school program, it is a good idea to plan ahead by registering at your local district public school. It is even possible for students to be placed in magnet schools after the school year has begun!

Okay, we’re in! What next?

If you’ve been accepted to a magnet school like Connecticut River Academy or Riverside Magnet School, we will set up a time for you to visit the school and register your child. You’ll need to bring certain official documents such as school records and proof of residency, and there will be time to ask any remaining questions you might have.

It might seem daunting to use a lottery to apply for something as important as your child’s education. But, the fact that you get to choose your options means that you accept an active role in pursuing the best path towards knowledge with your child. Achieving a magnet school education can be well worth the effort.

Goodwin College is more than happy to answer all of your remaining questions about both Riverside Magnet School and Connecticut River Academy. You may also contact the Regional School Choice Office (RSCO) for any inquiries regarding your magnet school application. The RSCO is located at 450 Columbus Boulevard, Suite P28, Plaza Level, in Hartford, and can be reached via telephone at: 860-713-6990.