– This is a photo I took during last year’s Open House A.K.A. pre-COVID times! Today the Academy follows all the safety guidelines suggested by CDC and ensures social distancing measures in the school building. –
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 considering magnet schools. Before I dig deeper, 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 Virtual Open House, which streamed live on October 17, 2020.
It was another impressive Open House that we have been accustomed to experiencing at the Academy as a result of the dedication, hard work, and collaboration among staff, students, alumni, and parents. The Virtual Open House consisted of three parts:
- Introductory speech by Principal John P. Jeffries
- Informative video
- Q & A session
The introductory video lasted about 32 minutes, followed by a live Q & A session, where Principal John P. Jeffries, Assistant Principal Amro Mosaad, and School Counselor Richard Fernandez provided insightful answers to the many questions they received from prospective families.
Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Technologies
The Middlesex County Academy is a small community which is based on Three Rs:
- Rigor: Every class is taught at the AP and Honors level.
- Relevance: Both of the academic tracks (Civil & Mechanical Engineering Technologies and Electronics & Computers Engineering Technology) are engineering-focused, and STEM is the Academy’s relevance.
- Relationships: Staff, students, and parents develop a strong relationship built on mutual trust and constant support.
The Middlesex County Academy is proud to be ranked #1 in the state of New Jersey and #2 in STEM in the country according to the recent U.S. News and World Report rankings.
There are several AP courses offered at the Academy:
- AP Calculus BC
- AP Statistics
- AP Physics 1
- AP Spanish
- AP Language and Composition
- AP Literature and Composition
- AP Environmental Science
- AP Biology
All the AP exams are administered at school, so students do not need to worry about traveling elsewhere to take these highly-stressful exams.
Placement in 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. Halfway through the year, students are placed in one or the other track, based on their grades, teacher recommendations, and interests. At the end of the 2nd marking period, they are ready to start their exciting academic journey!
If you would like to get more detailed information about the courses offered in each major, you can read the course descriptions here.
The Admissions Process
The Middlesex County Academy has a highly selective admissions process. Only 44 students out of 400+ applicants are selected every year. To make it fair for everyone, at least one student from each town that belongs to Middlesex County is invited for an interview regardless of their admissions test score.
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.
This year’s admissions test will be virtual due to the safety protocols in place as a result of COVID-19. It will be administered in December. More information regarding the date and time will be posted on the Academy’s website within the next few weeks, so remember to check back often.
The Admissions Timeline
Application Deadline: Monday, November 30, 2020
Phase 1: Application and Admissions Test – November – December 2020
Qualification for Phase 2 is based on the following criteria:
- Academic Grades – 7th grade and 8th grade 1st Marking Period
- Admissions Test (Reading, Math and Writing)
- Standardized Test Scores
Phase 2: Interview – February – March 2021
- Qualified applicants will be invited for an interview and asked to submit a letter of recommendation.
If you have any further questions about the admissions process, you can read the Academy’s FAQ page here and see sample questions from the Admissions test here.
Other Things to Know
- Transportation is provided by each local school district. Homeroom starts at 8:45 a.m., so the busses arrive at the bus stops accordingly. Students are dismissed at 3:30 p.m. There are no late busses for students who stay for an activity or club, so students need a ride. Carpooling is a very common solution adopted by many parents.
- The Commons Area provides a large space for students to gather, socialize, and connect with each other. This spacious area also serves as the cafeteria, lunchroom, as well as the facility where assemblies, fun days, and dances take place.
- The Academy does not have a gym in the building, but students and teachers have access to all the facilities at Middlesex County College. The Physical Education Center is only a half a mile away from the Academy building.
- The Academy Foundation, also known as the PTO, provides scholarships for seniors and mini grants for students who need financial support. The Foundation also organizes the Annual Freshman Picnic in summer, International Night around the Holidays, and Alumni Panel in January.
- The Annual Freshman Picnic brings 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.
- The Senior Mentorship Program helps students complete an unpaid internship during their senior year. This unique opportunity enables students to put the hard skills acquired in class to practice and acquire soft skills before they even start their college journey.
- Motto: “We put the E in STEM.”
- Website: https://www.mcvts.net/edison
- Twitter: @mcvts_ace
- Principal’s Instagram: @ace_principal_jj
- Facebook Page: Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools
- Facebook Group: Academy Foundation
- You can watch the full recording of the 2020 Fall Open House including the Q & A session on YouTube.
The Virtual Open House was yet another informative and awe-inspiring event organized by the wonderful people of the Middlesex County Academy. I would like to thank Principal Jeffries, his staff, students, alumni, and parents for continuing to show us that they really are a tight-knit family! The admissions process is extremely 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, we are here for you. 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 always remember that the best view comes after the hardest climb.
Happy Application Season!
Burcak Deniz Cakir
Independent Educational Consultant, 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 has completed the College Counseling Program at UCLA, which is known to be the most prestigious certificate program in the profession. 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 over 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 is an Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and a Voting Member of the International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC). She 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.