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Articles / Applying to College / Will Magnet School Hurt College Chances?

June 20, 2007

Will Magnet School Hurt College Chances?

Question: I attend a magnet school in NJ that is just four years old. My junior class has only 89 students, and no AP classes are offered. I would like to go to NYU, but I am concerned about how colleges look at magnet schools. Should I transfer for my senior year to my local high school OR should I stay in this magnet school and do my best and hope to go to a good college?

Being in a magnet school will NOT hurt your admission chances at NYU or at other highly selective schools, even if no AP classes are offered. Admission officials will evaluate your transcript in the context of WHAT IS AVAILABLE TO YOU. Applications will ask your counselor to designate whether your course load is "Most Demanding, "Very Demanding," "Somewhat Demanding," etc. when compared to that of your classmates.


You don't explain what--if anything--makes your magnet school different from other schools. Does it have a particular focus (e.g., arts, sciences)? Is it geared to students who are academically strong or special in any other way? When the time comes to apply to colleges, it might be appropriate for you to write a supplementary essay or letter than explains to admission committees why you chose to attend that school and what you like about it.

So, if you do indeed like your school and consider it academically challenging, there is no reason to go elsewhere. However, if you feel that your curriculum isn't sufficiently rigorous or you're not interested in your courses (or you find yourself in front of the TV with a industrial-sized bag of Doritos most every night!), then you may want to consider the transfer. Keep in mind, too, that you can always supplement your current schedule with enrichment courses, perhaps online or at a local college (at night, on weekends, or over the summer). Also, if you're especially good in a particular subject, you can sign up to take the corresponding AP test this May, even if you haven't taken an official AP class. (Ask your school counselor for details or write back if your counselor can't help.)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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