Magnet vs. Non: What’s the real difference?

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Gabby Weaver

Magnet sophomores study during lunch for AP World History, a course offered to both Magnet and non.

The debate between NC Magnet students and those not in the program remains: do Magnet-specific courses provide more rigorous classes than honors? To sufficiently answer the question, freshman Biology teachers Alan Gorlin (Honors) and Grant McDurmon (Magnet) discussed their individual teaching strategies and overall course rigor.

“The international aspect and emphasis on globalizing ideas adds a layer of complexity to all of the Magnet courses. I think that is important to keep in mind when discussing the Magnet course rigor versus the honors course rigor,” McDurmon said.

Rigorous classes require more difficult standards to achieve. However, some of these are only allowed to Magnet students.
Gabby Weaver
Rigorous classes require more difficult standards to achieve. However, some of these are only allowed to Magnet students.

McDurmon went on to discuss the factors that characterize the Magnet program, one that seeks to broaden students’ perspectives through extensive coursework pertaining to international studies. The academically exceptional Magnet students meet the requirement of upholding the standards the establishment expects, and it expects much.  

In addition to the yearly AP class bundles, Magnet students must take four years of a foreign language, and cannot take more than a limited number of on level courses. The question arises as to whether or not Magnet students should be the only ones permitted to take Magnet exclusive courses.

“Magnet courses are more rigorous. They are meant to be,” Gorlin said. The students were admitted to the program to have the opportunity to enroll in more difficult classes, not to take honor level courses.”

The Honors Biology course offers two courses in one semester; biotechnology and biology, adding an additional layer of difficulty to the usual honors material. Students enroll in honors classes when on-level coursework proves too easy; they seek a learning environment that provides a challenge. Despite the vigorous challenge that balancing biotechnology and biology at once poses, Gorlin’s belief in his teachings’ maintainability remains sound.

“For a lot of kids, this is their only honors course,” Gorlin said. “But the Magnet students have all magnet classes, their schedule is already very strenuous. The Magnet course load is more as a whole, so I try and challenge my students because I know most of them do not have that additional work.”

In reality, Magnet and Honors courses both provide different challenges, those that often makes the two indifferentiable. Vote in the poll below and see what students believe.

Are Magnet or Non-Magnet classes more rigorous?

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