3 years ago
Admissions Advice

Magnet school vs. traditional school

Hello- I am a 9th grader at a brand new public magnet school that focuses on TIDE (technology, innovation, design and Entrepreneurship). The school also has a dual college program and offer a 5 pathway certificate program if student stays all four years. It’s a brand new school with no history of graduates and college acceptances. How will my transcript be viewed in comparison to a traditional HS (with AP’s and honors).

So far I don’t feel very challenged at the school and find the classes very easy so far. The school prides itself on learning through teamwork, innovation and technology and I think I can stand out and get good grades there.

Questioning if I should stay or move to a traditional HS that is highly competitive with lots of AP and honors classes but very difficult courseload. I am up for the challenge but wondering if the Magnet school offers a unique approach to learning that colleges will find appealing for an applicant. Since this school doesn’t have a track record how would a university view students applying from there?


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3 answers

Accepted Answer
3 years ago[edited]

It's hard to know because it's a new school. The process college admission officers use to evaluate your school is to request a School Profile that has all the courses and grading scale and various data about matriculation of your school's graduates etc. Unfortunately, the school report will not have a lot of meaningful statistics even in 3 years. The second thing college admissions officers use is their personal connections to HS counselors either through their interactions with them on the phone, zoom calls, or in-person when they visit. Unfortunately, your school will not have an established connection with many of the top schools so this lack of personal contact will be a negative as well. The third thing is that since you mentioned that your school is sort of work in progress or an academic experiment in the making, it's hard to know how your peers are going to compare to other students in the district or state when it comes to standardized testing in Math and English and whether your peers will score high on the ACT, SAT, or AP exams. This again is a question mark, and since there will not be a lot of data points, I hate to say this but this will be guesswork for the Admissions Officers looking at your school and you in the context of your new school.

If you feel you are not currently challenged in 9th grade, then it is a good time to talk to your parents about switching schools to something more rigorous and competitive that has an excellent school profile with meaningful stats.

Dual college program and offer a 5 pathway certificate program if the student stays all four years is less meaningful to a college admissions officer if the student doesn't have the same course rigor, grades, and test scores and other applicants in the pool they are evaluating. Therefore it would more productive in my opinion to attend a traditional 4 years HS and do well there versus staying vigilant in this academic experiment.

If you do not fully trust what I'm saying, then I recommend that you and parent(s) locate school profiles of other more establish magnet schools that have the same dual enrollment and pathway certificate programs and study their school profiles to see if they are more, less or about the same level of competitiveness as other traditional HSs in your school district. By comparing and contrasting, you can all determine what should be the next move for you.

Good luck in your HS career.

3 years ago

Hi there @AJMehta,

It's good that you're taking these things into consideration as you plan for your college admissions.

If you don't feel challenged at the school, chance are your courses are not rigorous enough. You want to take as many honors, AP, and IB courses as possible as these are usually more standardized and show that you're challenging yourself in school.

If your school is new, with non-traditional coursework and no graduating class, then it's hard for admissions officers to evaluate it. It's more of a wild card. You can show capabilities across more standardized data points, like standardized tests, academic competitions (think decathlons or Olympiads), well-recognized extracurriculars (e.g. clubs belonging to a national organization, like Red Cross), etc.

The certificate program could be a good resource if you have a defined career path and know how you want to leverage the dual college program for your future. However, if you're going into it with undefined plans, you might be just stocking up on empty units.

These are all things to consider - for specific information on which path is better for you, I would talk to the high school counselors at both high schools so they can give you more information specific to your future goals and their school's offerings.

Hope this helps!

3 years ago

Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to this question! It probably depends on the specific admissions officers viewing your application, on how your guidance counselor explains your curriculum in your school report, and on how you write about your school experience in your essays. This does sound like a particularly unique program, and I doubt anyone will hold it against you that the program is new and doesn't have an established track record. That said, it might not help you a ton either.

This is a pretty big decision that will effect the next four years of your life. My advice would be that you should make the choice based not on what college admissions officers will think, but rather on which school will you give you a better, more fulfilling, and more stimulating high school experience. If the courses are easy, that's not a great sign. However, your are only in 9th grade (and I assume you only just started school this month or last month??). I assume that there's a good chance your courses will get more challenging over time. Ultimately, you'll likely do better at the school that suits your needs the best, and this will be the the most useful thing for thing for your eventual college applications.

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Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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