Ronald E. McNair Academic High School

McNair Academic High School is a public college preparatory high school located at 123 Coles St. near Hamilton Park.  The school was a 2018 National Blue Ribbon School and #1 school in the state, according to the New Jersey Monthly Magazine.  The school serves 9th through 12th grade.  McNair has about 700 students enrolled, with a student faculty ratio of 16:1.  Established in 1976, the school is even the inspiration for the fictional Coles Academic High School of Marvel fame.

McNair Academic Admissions

Applications are evaluated as follows:

  • 40% PSAT Score
  • 40% Grades (based on unweighted, absolute scores from middle school report cards)
  • 10% Teacher Recommendations
  • 5% Attendance
  • 5% Extracurricular Activities

In 2017, 240 students were accepted out of about 1000 applications, resulting in an acceptance rate of 24%.  196 students confirmed, and 179 students ultimately enrolled.  McNair strives to accept a sample of students that is reasonably representative of Jersey City demographics:

  • 25% Hispanic
  • 25% Black
  • 25% White
  • 25% Other

Applications are sorted into groups by ethnicity and then ranked.  The top 50 students from each of four groups are chosen, and an additional 40 students are selected from the remaining applications, without consideration for ethnicity.  The result of this process is that McNair Academic’s student population by racial and ethnic group skews Asian.  Actual demographics for 2019-2020:

  • 42.9% Asian
  • 20.1% Hispanic
  • 19.5% White
  • 13.7% Black
  • 3.8% Other

McNair Curriculum

McNair is consistently ranked very highly by various publications as top 1 or 2 high school in New Jersey, and as a top 50 high school in the United States.  Broad enrollment in AP courses (97% of students take AP classes), high SAT scores, and a 100% graduation rate demonstrate the rigor of the curriculum.

Average PSAT Score: 1200 out of 1520 (vs. state average of 950)

Average SAT Score: 1280 out of 1600 (vs. state average of 1070)

McNair Clubs, Sports, and Extracurricular Activities

McNair offers the following 23 interscholastic sports, including:

  • Baseball (Boys)
  • Basketball (Boys and Girls)
  • Bowling (Boys and Girls)
  • Cross Country (Boys and Girls)
  • Soccer (Boys and Girls)
  • Softball (Girls)
  • Swimming (Boys and Girls)
  • Tennis (Boys and Girls)
  • Track and Field – Spring and Winter Seasons (Boys and Girls)
  • Volleyball (Boys and Girls)

Clubs and Activities:

  • JROTC Program
  • Performance and Arts Clubs
  • Service and Civics
  • Various Culture Clubs
  • Math and Science Competitions
  • Poetry Out Loud Competitions

Service Opportunities:

  • Building Blocks of NJ
  • York Street Project
  • Haven House
  • Jersey City Public Library
  • Jersey City Mayor’s Office
  • Liberty Science Center
  • Boys and Girls Club

What do parents like about McNair?

McNair has earned a reputation as a challenging high school that prepares students well for colleges and universities.  As of 2021, the school offers 26 AP courses and extra tutoring on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Students have the option to pursue Independent Science Research.  It is selective, and therefore academically rigorous, which shows in the standardized test scores of its students, boasting the highest SAT scores in Hudson County.  Graduates of McNair go on to study in well known universities across the country.  In 2020, 100% of the graduating class attended four year colleges and universities.  See the state performance report for McNair Academic for more information.

Additionally, students in grades 10 through 12 have the option to have lunch off campus in the Hamilton Park neighborhood of downtown Jersey City.

Graduation Requirements

Credit Requirements include some NJ state requirements:

  • English (25)
  • Math (20)
  • Lab Science (20)
  • Social Studies (20)
  • World Language (15)
  • Fine Arts (10)
  • Health and Physical Education (20)
  • 21st Century Learning – JROTC (5)
  • Financial Literacy (2.5)
  • Electives (22.5)

JROTC is the only class offered that meets New Jersey’s state requirement for 21st Century Learning, and as a result is a required course.

Additional Weight for Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) Courses:

  • Honors Courses are weighted 1.05
  • AP Courses are weighted 1.10

McNair does not report class rank.

Uniforms / Dress Code

Traditional business attire is required by all students.

Young men are required to wear dress shoes, socks, button-down dress shirts, ties, and either a suit or slacks/sport coat.  Boat shoes are acceptable footwear in September and October, as well as April through June.

Young women are required to wear appropriate pants, skirts, blouses, sweaters, and blazers with closed toe shoes.  Bright flats, wedges, platforms, and high heels are acceptable footwear in September and October, as well as April through June.  Short or revealing skirts and dresses are not permitted if below the knee.  Boots above the knee are also not permitted. Girls can wear crewnecks on top of their uniform as long as there is no inappropriate language on their clothing. If the crewneck you wear has words or a logo, make sure it is fairly small.

Notes for all students: You must wear socks that go above your ankles. Your pants cannot be made of denim material and resemble jeans. During colder months, (McNair will tell students the specific months) students are required to wear a second layer on top of the dress shirt they are wearing. For example, young men will be required to wear a blazer.

However, on certain days, there may be a dress down day where you can pay money so you do not have to wear uniform. There are still rules on certain types of clothing you cannot wear on dress down days, but it is more lenient than it is normally.

For more details on McNair’s dress code, click here.

Advanced Placement Courses

As of 2021, McNair offers the following Advanced Placement courses:

  • Art History
  • 2D Art & Design
  • 3D Art & Design
  • Biology
  • Calculus AB
  • Calculus BC
  • Chemistry
  • Chinese Language & Culture
  • Computer Science
  • Economics: Microeconomics
  • English Language and Composition
  • English Literature and Composition
  • Environmental Science
  • French Language
  • Human Geography
  • Music Theory
  • Physics I
  • Physics C
  • Research
  • Seminar
  • Spanish Language
  • Spanish Literature
  • Statistics
  • United States History
  • United States Government and Politics
  • World History

State and National Awards and Ratings

  • U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School 2018-2019
  • New Jersey Monthly Magazine “Top Public High Schools 2010-2020
  • US News and World Report “Gold Medal Schools” 2009-2020
  • Newsweek Magazine “Top 100 High Schools” 2005-2007, 2010-2020
  • N.J. Title One Reward School 2015-2019
  • N.J. School of Distinction 2012
  • N.J. Governor’s School of Excellence
  • N.J. Department of Education Star School

Student Achievements

  • U.S. Presidential Scholars Program
  • National Merit Finalists and Scholars
  • National Achievement Scholars for Black Americans
  • National Hispanic Recognition Program
  • Urban Scholars
  • Bloustein Scholars
  • Advanced Placement Scholars
  • Advanced Placement Scholars with Distinction
  • Advanced Placement Scholars with Honors

Sample List of Colleges and Universities Attended by McNair Graduates

  • American University
  • Amherst College
  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Brown University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Emory University
  • Georgetown University
  • Harvard College
  • Howard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • New Jersey City University
  • New York University
  • Notre Dame
  • Princeton University
  • Rice University
  • Rutgers State University
  • Stanford University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Tufts University
  • University of California
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Yale University

Additional Links

JCBOE McNair High School


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