When moving to a new city, one of the most common questions asked by families with children is “What are the best schools in the area?” Luckily, Charleston County has no shortage of incredible schools that do an excellent job of preparing students for college and careers. In April of 2019, U.S. News and World Report named Academic Magnet High School the #1 public high school in the nation. Located in North Charleston, Academic Magnet High School is directly adjacent to the #2 school in South Carolina education, Charleston School of the Arts. As the name states, this is an art school, but contrary to stereotypes, School of the Arts students are incredibly well prepared for both their college and career pathways, whether those are in the arts or not. Another top ranked school in close proximity to many Charleston communities is Wando High School, located in Mount Pleasant. Several other excellent Charleston schools worth mentioning include Oceanside Collegiate Academy, Palmetto Scholars Academy, Charleston Charter School for Math and Science, Porter Gaud School, Palmetto Christian Academy, and Ashley Hall School.
For traditional, public education, Wando High School is the most decorated in Charleston, boasting numerous academic accolades and academic awards. Most recently, the Wando Warriors marching band placed 6th in the national Bands of America Competition, and the school’s video newscast, Tribe Talk, placed 2nd at the National Scholastic Press Association Convention. From a sport standpoint, last year the school won state titles in boys’ soccer, boys’ swimming, and girls’ swimming, while the girls’ soccer, boys’ lacrosse, boys’ tennis, girls’ tennis, boys’ track, and girls’ volleyball teams won lower state titles. Residents in the gorgeous Charleston community of Mount Pleasant are automatically zoned for this school, but students from any area can attend pending approval process and additional tuition fees.
Magnet & Charter Schools
Magnet and charter schools in Charleston are some of the best educational opportunities for students in the area. Academic Magnet High School requires potential students to take aptitude tests in order to determine if the student will thrive at the school, as are students who wish to attend Palmetto Scholars Academy. Charleston School of the Arts also requires an application, which is focused on the student’s potential area of artistic interest. Some departments require an in-person audition or the submission of a portfolio. In addition to these three, another top charter school in South Carolina is Charleston Charter School for Math and Science, which is located downtown, central to most of Charleston’s larger communities. All of these schools enter students into a “lottery application” which selects students at random. Those who are not selected are placed on a waiting list in case someone else decides to relinquish their spot. All except Academic Magnet High School enroll students in grades 6-12.
Technically considered a public charter school, Oceanside Collegiate Academy is a relatively new high school in Charleston County. Started in 2014, Oceanside Collegiate Academy aims to provide students with an elite athletic and academic experience. Students select a morning or afternoon school schedule, so that they have time during the day for training, practices or rehearsals. As an example, swimmers start the day at the pool, and then take classes in the afternoon. The concept is ideal for self-motivated students who do not mind completing a great deal of coursework at home. Many of the core classes at Oceanside are dual enrollment courses so that students may earn college credit as well.
For those who prefer attending a private school, the most notorious are Porter Gaud School, Ashley Hall School, and Palmetto Christian Academy. All three of these schools enroll students in grades K-12. As a result of generous donors, financial scholarships are available for students who desire a rigorous academic environment but may not have the monetary needs to pay the full tuition amount. Porter Gaud School and Ashley Hall School both are located in beautiful downtown Charleston, an incredibly convenient location. Palmetto Christian Academy is situated in Mount Pleasant, and the majority of students hail from that area.
Charleston’s many charming and unique qualities and opportunities should not end when it comes to education, and, as these schools demonstrate, it certainly does not.