As an Independent Educational Consultant, the majority of my clients are college-bound high school students. However, the everchanging and challenging world of college admissions has left parents with no choice but to contemplate getting a head start in the game. I see that more and more families with means are sending their children to private high schools. Families who may not be able to afford an expensive high school tuition, on the other hand, are opting out for magnet schools. Since I have been receiving lots of questions from parents about such schools lately, I thought it would be best to visit the one nearby and help parents navigate the admissions process. Before I talk about my trip to Middlesex County Academy, let me give you the definition of a magnet school.
What is a magnet school?
A magnet school is the combination of a private school and a public school. It can be seen as a private school because of its rigorous curriculum, activities, college counseling, and superior education. It is also a public school because it is 100% funded by the state, which makes is free to attend. Best of both worlds, right? Or too good to be true? A little bit of both if you ask me! Who would not want to send their children to a top-notch high school for free? Of course, there is a catch! Good luck getting in! Seriously, a magnet school can be hard to get into. Especially, if you live in an area like Edison, New Jersey, where there is a huge demand for magnet schools, I would call it hitting the jackpot if your child gets in.
A magnet school usually focuses on one specific area. Some common areas of specialization include:
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
- Health Sciences
- Fine and Performing Arts
- International Baccalaureate, (IB)
- Career and Technological Education (CTE)
- World Languages
Fall, which is known as the stressful college admissions season, also happens to be the admissions season for magnet schools. Naturally, my phone has been ringing a lot these days with inquiries about not only college but also magnet high school applications, with one in particular: The Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Technologies. To be able to cater to the needs of my clients to the best of my knowledge, I decided to attend the Open House that was held on Saturday, October 19, 2019. What an experience!
I must start by saying that I was impressed with the overall quality of the Open House. As an Independent Educational Consultant, I visit many colleges and universities; however, for a high school, this was a lot more well-organized than some of the college visits I have been on! My morning started with a bit of fear. Knowing that the Academy is located on the Middlesex County College campus, I left my house a lot earlier thinking I would be lost on campus. Seriously! Whenever I go to Middlesex County College, my GPS does not cooperate, and due to the shortage of clear signs, I always get lost! The Open House started with an Information Session in Crabiel Hall. As soon as I entered the campus, I was greeted by students showing me where to turn and how to get to the Open House. Then, I was greeted by more students who showed me the way to the Parking Lot. By the way, this was all happening as I was driving; I did not even have to get out of the car to ask for directions! Navigating around the campus was a breeze for the first time! Thank you, Academy, for hosting such a well-organized event!
The Admissions Process
The Middlesex County Academy has a very selective admissions process. Hundreds of students will apply, but only 44 will be admitted. To be eligible to apply, a student must be in eighth grade during the application season, successfully complete a full year of Algebra 1 by June of their eighth-grade year, and be a current resident of Middlesex County. The application form may be obtained from your child’s middle school counselor or can be downloaded from the Academy’s website. To be considered for admission, you must:
- Complete page 1 of the application (Student & Parent Page).
- Have your child write the essay, write the date, and sign at the bottom with his/her own handwriting.
- Submit the entire application to your child’s middle school counselor as soon as possible.
- Your child’s middle school counselor will fill out page 2 (Counselor Page), attach all the required documents, and send your child’s application to the Academy by the deadline, which is November 21, 2019.
The Admissions Timeline
Mandatory Information Session
- The student and a parent or guardian must attend one information session on December 4, 2019 or December 5, 2019.
Phase 1: Application and Admissions Test – November-December 2019
Qualification for Phase 2 is based on the following criteria:
- Academic Grades – 7th grade and 8th grade
- Admissions Test (Reading, Math and Writing) that will be administered on December 7, 2019.
- Standardized Test Scores
Phase 2: Interview – February 2020
- Qualified applicants will be invited for an interview and asked to submit a letter of recommendation.
Decisions will be released mid-March.
The Middlesex Academy is proud to be ranked #1 in terms of the highest SAT scores in the state of New Jersey. The Academy is also ranked #3 in New Jersey according to the U.S. News and World Report rankings.
There are 6 AP courses offered at the Academy. All the AP exams are administered at school, and the list of AP course offerings are as follows:
- AP Calculus BC
- AP Statistics
- AP Physics
- AP Spanish
- AP Language and Composition
- AP Literature
Declaring a Major
There are two majors that are offered to the students at the Academy:
- Civil & Mechanical Engineering Technologies (CMET)
- Electronics & Computers Engineering Technology (ECET)
As incoming freshmen, all students are divided into two groups. Half of the students are placed into the CMET track, with the remaining half in the ECET track. At the end of the 1st marking period, students switch majors. This gives everyone a chance to explore their interests and decide which of the two tracks fits their skills and aspirations more. At the end of the 2nd marking period, students declare their major, matriculate in their selected programs, and start their exciting academic journey.
If you would like to find out more detailed information about the courses offered in each major, you can read the course descriptions here. In addition to the rigorous curriculum offered, what I really like is the combination of hard and soft skills that students gain at the Academy. The Academy’s philosophy is based on making a synthesis of what students learn in class and what it is going to be like in the industry when they go out to the real world. The Capstone Project is one example of how students are engaged in real-life scenarios and how they partake in hands-on activities.
Students have the option of taking some classes from Middlesex County College, which I think is very convenient considering the fact that those college-level classes are taught right next door! I can definitely see these bright young people reaching for the stars in high school, college, and beyond. With everything offered to them, sky is not even the limit!
The Academy takes pride in the many clubs offered to students to provide them with more opportunities outside of the classroom. It was amazing to see the wide variety of club offerings especially at a school that is as challenging and rigorous as the Academy. In addition, although a STEM school, the Academy offers many volunteering clubs for students to participate and receive volunteer hours that will have a positive contribution to their college applications. As an Educational Consultant who specializes in college admissions, I can totally see these young people well-prepared for college not only academically but also socially. The Academy definitely gave me the vibe that the education provided here is “geared towards a college-based and career-based future,” as one student said during the school tour.
Other Things to Know
- Transportation is provided by each local school district. Classes start at 9:00 a.m., so the busses arrive at the bus stops accordingly.
- For fundraising purposes, there is pizza in the cafeteria twice a week, and students can choose to buy on those days. Occasionally, there is a Mexican Fiesta Day, when students can purchase Mexican food for lunch in the cafeteria. At all other times, students are expected to bring their lunch everyday.
- The Academy does not have a gym in the building, but students and teachers have access to all the facilities at Middlesex County College.
- There is an annual Freshman Picnic that is held in summer to bring together all the incoming freshmen and their families. This picnic is a great opportunity for everyone to meet and bond before the school starts to make the transition from middle school to high school a lot smoother.
- Rigor: Every class is taught at the Honors level.
- Relevance: Both of the academic tracks (CMET and ECET) are engineering-focused.
- Relationships: Everyone supports each other.
I left the Open House quite impressed with all the things the Academy has to offer! No wonder there were around 750 people attending the Open House! Yes! Check their Twitter account if you do not believe me! I just cannot imagine the number of applications they receive every year only to admit 44 students. The admissions process is tough! It is very competitive. You can only help your child stand out but can never guarantee that s/he will be admitted. If your child needs essay assistance or interview coaching, call us today at +1(732)640-5550. At EdMission Possible, we know what it takes to be admitted to a highly-selective school. Good luck to all of you! The road is rocky, but the best things in life are those that have been the hardest to earn.
Happy Application Season!
Burcak Deniz Cakir
Founder and President | EdMission Possible
Burcak Deniz Cakir has a B.A. in Foreign Language Education, an M.A. in English Language Teaching, and an M.B.A., all of which have laid the solid foundation for her professional experiences as an educator. She completed the College Counseling Program at UCLA, which is known to be the most prestigious certificate program in the profession, in 2019. She has previously taught English as a Foreign/Second Language (EFL/ESL) in Turkey and in the U.S. at Virginia Tech, Harcum College, Rutgers University (Newark and New Brunswick Campuses), and Pace University. Having taught EFL/ESL at the college level for 20 years, Burcak can communicate effectively with college-age students from different countries. She is bilingual in Turkish and English. Her extensive experience with international students from many countries including but not limited to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and China has given her the opportunity to understand their unique problems that domestic students may not be facing throughout the college admissions process, such as but not limited to extra testing requirements (TOEFL, IELTS), the translation of high school transcripts and recommendation letters, different financial forms and statements required, visa issues, being homesick, culture shock, etc. Burcak currently lives in Edison, New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, and her four-legged son. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her family, reading (lots!) about college admissions and college essays, watching her favorite movies, getting lost in design magazines, and decorating her house.