New Jersey boasts some of the best magnet schools within the United States. Fortunately, several of these schools are in the Bergen County area, giving families like yours the opportunity to provide children with the tools for successful futures.
Defining the term “magnet school…”
According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, a magnet school is “a public school offering special instruction and programs not available elsewhere, designed to attract a more diverse student body throughout a particular school district.”
Unlike charter or private schools, magnet schools are part of a public school district and must follow state education requirements. However, they operate apart from town zoning rules, meaning students residing outside of the school’s immediate surroundings may apply and attend. Students applying to the Bergen County Academies, for example, must be from Bergen County, but do not necessarily have to live in Hackensack.
Magnet Schools of America asserts that magnet schools are unique because they focus on “individually themed curricula.” Magnet schools attract students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, races, and academic skill levels in comparison to local high schools. This sense of diversity “develops positive citizen children prepared for future careers and successful community engagement.”
How are NJ magnet schools nationally ranked?
Niche.com is an education review site that analyzes SAT scores, student satisfaction, and a variety of data from the U.S. Department of Education. Niche rates New Jersey’s magnet schools as some of the best in America!
- Bergen County Academies (#11)
- Bergen County Technical High School, Teterboro (#16)
- Union County Magnet High School (#21)
- High Technology High School (#25)
- Academy for Allied Health & Science (#26)
- Dr. Ronald E. McNair High School (#35)
- Biotechnology High School (#39)
- Academy for Information Technology (#58)
How does this information impact your child?
Well, impressive school rankings give you an advantage in two aspects. Not only are the magnet schools in our area rated highly, but so are our local high schools. Regardless of their educational institution, New Jersey students generally receive strong academic backgrounds that prepare them for future college success.
#1. We have lots of high-performing local high schools with graduation rates of up to 99%! (Tenafly HS, Northern Highlands Regional HS, Ridgewood HS, and Millburn HS to name a few…) These schools are open-admission, meaning there is no application process to enter at the beginning of 9th grade. Students enter these schools based on where they live. We are in the middle of an educational hub with sophisticated academic resources that may not be available in other parts of the country.
#2. As noted previously, many of the top public schools in NJ are technically magnet or vocational. They are categorized as “public” because student tuition is covered by taxes. However, there is a selective admissions process, including interviews, portfolios, application submission, personal statements, and standardized admission tests. Admitted students go on to succeed in prestigious colleges and universities.
In fact, the top 12 of NJ’s 25 schools with the highest SAT score averages are magnet/vocational institutions. Bergen County Academies students, for example, come in at #4 with a whopping 1470 average SAT score. Bergen County Technical High School reaches #11 with a 1330 average score.
How do magnet school students become some of the top performers in the country?
The answer lies in magnet and/or vocational schools’ unique senses of community paired with highly specialized programs. While most 8th graders have little idea of what they want out of a career, magnet schools give students the opportunity to pursue their passions in academies or programs that focus on their interests.
Rather than study a typical course load within a local public school, students may, for example, join BCA’s highly-rated STEM program. Students interested in science, technology, engineering, or math are exposed to advanced concepts in these fields, while other schools may not offer such in-depth STEM learning opportunities.
While the concepts learned at magnet schools are difficult, student motivation and drive are high because each child is delving into his or her own interests. Many students study late through the evening for their exams because they are eager to do well in courses they enjoy. After 17 years of experience guiding and interacting with BCA, Academies @ Englewood, and MCVSD students, we have found that they are willing to work hard because they are surrounded by exceptional peers who are interested in education. In fact, many parents are surprised by their 8th graders’ transformations into dedicated and outstanding high schoolers.
How does magnet school student motivation translate to higher SAT scores?
Simply put, students who study hard and complete high-quality work in difficult courses are well-equipped to outperform peers on important standardized tests. Thanks to challenging course loads and positive motivation, magnet/vocational students develop the necessary critical thinking, reading, writing, math, and general problem-solving and decision-making skills needed to score high on AP, SAT, and ACT exams.
NJ’s Top 25 SAT Averages by School (2016-2017)
According to a Harvard Education study on global curricula, successful schools “should give young people the knowledge they need to approach the future with a dynamic, accountable, forward-thinking mindset.” In order for students to thrive within a high school setting and prepare for college success, they “need traits like critical thinking, intercultural literacy, and cooperation. They [must] know how to work together on shared projects; how to use technology as a tool for learning; and how to see themselves as agents for innovation and stability.”
In direction connection with these ideas, the Bergen County Academies provide a diverse learning environment—62% of the 1,050 students enrolled in 2016 were minorities. Bergen County Technical Schools in Teterboro saw 58% minority enrollment. Because magnet school programs are typically small and specialized, students work together to tackle challenges like advanced research projects in well-developed science or computer labs. Vocational school students are exposed to high-quality learning conditions, so they surpass the state average on the SAT.
Where does your child fit in?
As the 2017-2018 magnet school admissions competition begins, it is important to reflect upon your child’s current academic standing, goals, and recent accomplishments. Since these schools are so reputable, the multi-step admissions process is challenging and highly selective. To learn more about what an application entails, please click here. To read about MEK’s 2016-2017 BCA acceptances, click here.
Please keep an eye out for BCA Application Essay Competition results. The top two students who write the best first drafts (in each BCA Prep class) will receive recognition from their teachers and earn a special prize. Winners will be announced on our website in early November 2017.
If you have any questions regarding magnet school admissions, please do not hesitate to call us at (855) 346-1410.