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BU Academy students excel in unique setting

Boston University students may not know it, but the students sitting next to them in lecture could be a member of the Boston University Academy.

Boston University Academy students take BU classes and are integrated with the university, although a number of BU students remain unaware of their presence. PHOTO BY KENSHIN OKUBO/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

“The only experience I’ve had [with BUA] and the only reason I know it exists is because I took a class and there happened to be some academy students in the class,” said Sunjay Sethi, a post-graduate student in the School of Medicine.

BUA is a four-year high school founded by the late John Silber, president emeritus of BU, on the Charles River Campus in 1993. BU President Robert Brown supervises the school, which consists of 167 students and 23 faculty members. The academy offers its own coursework, but also integrates the upperclassmen into university classes.

BUA students take rigorous academy classes their freshman and sophomore years, which could be considered honors classes in other high schools. In their junior year, students are required to take two BU courses — usually biology or a language, and in their senior year they take most of their courses at BU, said James Berkman, head of school at BUA.

“On any given day, 80 of our 160-plus students are in a BU class,” Berkman said. “By the time they graduate, all of them will have a year and a half of BU credit.”

BUA students are integrated into the BU community through their classes, as well as shared campus resources including the George Sherman Union and Nickerson Field. They also write their senior thesis papers with BU professors, Berkman said.

However, a number of undergraduate students said they are not familiar with the Academy.

“I just see them walking about, and I know about it just because I’ve heard from other people by word of mouth,” said Pamela Galbraith, a College of Communication senior. “I guess there’s a high school on campus, but I don’t know what purpose their academy serves.”

Sarah Collins, a College of Arts and Sciences senior, said it is strange to see high school students on campus.

“I don’t see them [BUA students] much,” she said. “I’ve really just seen them around the GSU. I’ve never had a class with them or seen them sit in on a class.”

Berkman said BUA provides intellectually curious students with the additional benefit of being part of a college campus.

“[BUA is] a four-year high school, with all the bells and whistles for the social and emotional extracurricular programming of a high school so that our teenagers can be teenagers, real high school students, but we have no intellectual ceilings and we have a partner that has extraordinary university resources that our students are allowed to use,” he said.

BUA students, who may only be identified by their first names without parental consent, said they benefit from attending high school on a college campus.

“The fact that we’re embedded in the BU campus is different from your smaller group dynamic here, but I like it because you have access to all the university programs in your junior and senior year,” Jason, a BUA sophomore, said.

Nmemo, a BUA junior, said she enjoyed the rigorous curriculum the academy is able to offer in conjunction with the university.

“It’s nice to have a sort of environment where everyone is really invested in learning,” she said. “It’s nice to be out of the public school system and to have students here with me who are similar to me and have a similar drive.”

Jason said he is strongly considering attending BU after BUA.

In the last six years, the majority of BUA students have graduated and enrolled as undergraduates at BU. Last year, 24 students went on to attend BU, according to BUA’s 2012–13 Social Profile.

BUA is still a relatively young and small high school that a number of people do not know enough about, Berkman said.

“Even at BU, there are 10,000 BU employees, and so many of them don’t know there’s a high school on campus, and some of them still don’t know,” he said. “But for instance, the human resources office puts out a list of benefits and a list of workshops, and we are now listed as one of the benefits.”

1 Response for “BU Academy students excel in unique setting”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m an academy student, and I’d like to correct just one mistake: only 4 students attended BU last year. The number you’re quoting is from 2007-2012 (that is, 24 students over 5 years). Most academy students in fact do not attend BU.

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