The BASIS Independent Academies Senior Program
Preparation and Purpose
In grade 12, students experience the Senior Program. This is the culmination of the BASIS Curriculum, and offers seniors rich, student-led opportunities to apply what they have learned throughout their time at BASIS Independent Academies.
Seniors take the daily College Counseling course for their first two trimesters, which is designed to help students discover their intellectual passions and to introduce them to opportunities, majors, and schools that align with their goals. Our College Counselors help students determine which post-secondary programs are the best fit for their interests, facilitate visits to campuses, host university admissions representatives, help students use Naviance (an application and data tracking system), and provide feedback on applications and personal essays. The College Counseling course is a critical part of the path our graduates take from being leaders in their school to leaders in college and beyond. While College Counseling is primarily one of the major components of the Senior Program, helping students find the right fit is possible in part because of how BASIS Academies build the dual expectations of college admissions and of providing support to students into our academic culture. Younger students come to anticipate the process of college counseling, and look to seniors as role models.
Senior Courses are taught by instructors who have expertise in, and passion for, the specific topic around which a Senior Course (Marine Biology, Category Theory, Postcolonial Literature, etc.) is designed. A Senior Course replaces the breadth of a seminar or AP course with depth, so that students fully immerse themselves in one topic or problem and its implications. Above all, the instructor models for students what it’s like to work in her/his field, so that students fully understand the importance and implications of the topics of study. The teacher commands a wide variety of sources and resources in Senior Courses; students have authentic academic experiences that will help them determine whether a particular field will be right for them in the future.
The goals of BASIS Independent Academies are not only to give students the skills to be productive, efficient scholars through high-quality academics, but also to help shape community members – within and outside of our doors. The Senior Program is designed to be transformative for both the students and for the communities that they impact. During the second trimester, seniors are required to complete an off-campus service project that demonstrates leadership. In so doing, students identify ways in which their strengths can be used to help their neighbors accomplish their goals, or to offer new processes or services that will do good in their communities. Purposeful reflection, and suggestions and encouragement from peers helps students have an even bigger impact on the communities they’re serving; these are integral parts of the seniors’ personal growth in their last year.
During Senior Colloquium, students continue the seminar-style learning that has helped shape them as scholars in grades 9 through 11. Colloquium is a humanities course driven entirely by student interest. With their instructors, they’ll select the overarching idea and the reading that will be the object of their study that year. Potential themes include contemporary literature, specific eras of history, or rhetorical analysis of current events. Students are co-constructors of their knowledge in Senior Colloquium, where they view their peers as resources and collaborators. They leave Colloquium as autonomous learners, poised to take on positions of leadership at university and in life.
Seniors explore potential topics in which to major and pursue a career, while also cultivating intellectual passions and pursuits that will shape them as lifelong learners and leaders. In AP Research, students must complete an in-depth research paper and presentation. Beyond AP Research, Senior Projects require students to extend the ideas and processes of AP Research (or another Senior Course) to an off-campus location. They must submit detailed proposals of what they plan to accomplish and where. They must identify a BASIS Independent Academies faculty member as an advisor, and must also find an on-site mentor who will supervise and guide them throughout their project. Students spend a minimum of 10 hours per week at their project location during the third trimester, and write weekly blog posts detailing the process and ongoing results of their work.