Our newest Associate Director of Admissions Sarah Ellerton wanted to help prospective families learn more about transferring into BASIS Independent Brooklyn during middle school from the experts—students who had just made the change themselves. Sarah sat down with several recent transfer students and reports back on what she learned.
When I joined the BASIS Independent Brooklyn Admissions Team last month and started leading tours for prospective families, I noticed the same question coming up again and again from parents of middle school students: How hard is it to start at BASIS Independent Brooklyn in middle school?
Our Admissions Team can talk all day about our amazing network of student support: from our teachers to our Deans and Directors, summer crash courses to help cover any knowledge gaps, and smaller class sizes to ensure lots of eyes on your child’s progress. However, hearing the experiences of actual transfer students would be by far the most accurate and valuable information I could get.
That is why I sat and asked the same questions to three transfer students: Camille R. and Ellie H., who are new 5th graders this year, and Zeyna T. who is a 6th grader now, but transferred to BASIS Independent Brooklyn for grade 5. They had a lot to tell me, and I’m excited to share it with you.
How does a typical day start off for you?
All three students take our private school buses to school. They all get up around 6:30 a.m. and they all have the same pick up time of 7:30 a.m. Buses drop off students from 7:40–7:50 a.m.
ZT: I have binders for each class and I carry my backpack around. I normally go to my locker (with a lock!) after every class or every two classes, it depends on how much time I have in the morning. For AE, I like to do my homework so that I have less at home. I try to get my worksheets done in AE [Academic Enrichment] and my longer homework at home.
Zeyna and Camille bring lunch from home, and Ellie uses our Butter Beans in-school lunch program.
What about after school?
EH: I go to student hours, mostly math student hours. Sometimes I take the late bus. If I take the late bus because my parents are working late and I don’t have student hours, then I go over by the cafeteria and do my homework…. I don’t do any extracurriculars at BASIS Independent Brooklyn. I used to have a piano tutor, but on Fridays I do Irish Step Dancing. I’ve been doing that since Kindergarten!
CR: I go to math student hours too. I was expecting the day to feel a lot longer than it actually does. Like I thought it was going to feel like 8 hours, and like, “I don’t want to do this anymore” but it’s not that bad.
As I asked Camille this question, when she mentioned that the school day doesn’t feel long, Ellie quickly shook her closed fist with pinky and thumb sticking out and nodded her head. This is a BASIS Independent hand signal that means “I agree,” or “me, too,” or “making a silent connection.” Students use this during class so they can participate and support their fellow students, without loudly interjecting and disrupting. Ellie and Camille did this multiple times in our short conversation. It’s only the middle of November, but clearly both Ellie and Camille are well-immersed in the BASIS Independent Brooklyn life.
What’s the biggest difference from your last school?
CR: Basically, what happened at our old school is that we just had one teacher that would teach all the subjects and we just had one room. So the teacher would teach math, reading, and writing, and that was pretty much it. And it was fine. But I like it here a lot more because you learn different things. Like we didn’t have Classics or Latin or Physical Geography. We just had the basic stuff that you need to know.
ZT: My old school was a lot easier and a lot different. I had never taken a real test…we used to have math fact quizzes and spelling tests, but that’s it. I also like switching around classes.
EH: Well, at my old school, we got to go out for lunch starting in 4th grade, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I never had the cafeteria food there because it wasn’t that good. Not as good as the food here. I’ve done a Butter Beans camp before! The academics are harder, but I really like them a lot better.
What do you think of your BASIS Independent Brooklyn teachers?
EH: The teachers are nicer. [Classes are] harder but the teachers help you understand them. At my other school, the teachers were nice, but they weren’t like the teachers here, and they didn’t have student hours or things like that.
CR: The teachers help you a lot more. Basically, if you have a question about something or you don’t understand something, they’ll help you. You just have to ask ‘what does this mean?’ and they’ll explain it to you. And I like that a lot more because at my old school teachers basically would just be like, if you don’t understand something, you [should have] paid attention. It’s not like you don’t have to pay attention here, but if you don’t understand how to find the square root or something, you can just ask and they’ll explain it to you.
ZT: Teachers here are really nice and really fun in class. So we actually get to learn more stuff in depth because we get to do experiments.
What’s your favorite class?
ZT: This year my favorite classes are Physics and, I never thought I would like Bio, but I really, really like Bio. I thought it would make me nauseous all the time, with dissections and stuff, but it doesn’t. And I really like Physics because my teacher is Mr. Denis and we actually do physics. On the first day, we just jumped into physics, and we didn’t have to do first day rules or anything.
EH: For Phys Geo, I really liked our state project. We picked a state at random and we had to research it and we got to do a big project on [poster board]. I actually really enjoy Math, which I was really surprised at. I didn’t enjoy math before, but now I love Math. I like Ms. Lindsey. I also like Ms. Taggart for Classics. I like all my teachers.
Was it hard making friends?
ZT: It wasn’t that easy meeting people, because everyone was already in their cliques. But what I did was just talk to them.
EH: Everyone’s really welcoming and nice here. (Note: I told her she didn’t have to say that just because I was interviewing her, but she insisted, “No, it’s true!”)
What was the hardest part about transferring to BASIS Independent Brooklyn?
CR: Basically, the hardest thing about going here was getting used to what it’s like. At first, I thought that I wouldn’t like it really, but you get used to it and then it’s just a normal day.
EH: Yeah, like Camille said, the hardest thing about transferring here, I guess, is getting used to it. I was thinking, oh my gosh, there’s all these other academics, I felt like it was going to take 10 hours a day, but really, the week goes by so fast…. In the beginning of the year I went to bed at like 10:30 because I had a lot of homework, because I was catching up, but it’s not like that anymore. Like my bedtime is now about 9:30 p.m.
ZT: At first, I didn’t know what studying was. So I didn’t study, and then my friend told me, “You should really study.” She’s been here since the school opened. I didn’t ask her for help; she just told me I should try. My mom and my teachers helped me learn how to study, and I taught myself some parts. Like, my Bio teacher [Ms. Thorne], she makes these quizlets that are really helpful…. I went to student hours a lot. I still do. It’s really helpful. If I just have a question about what happened, what we did in class today, or a question on the test, or something like that, or if I want help studying for a test or quiz that’s coming up soon, then I go.
What advice would you give to a student who is transferring to BASIS Independent Brooklyn?
CR: If you’re nervous about it, don’t be. Just do it like you’re at your old school, and you’ll be fine.
EH: Yeah, just do it like you did at your old school, unless you were really nervous at your old school and you were scared to talk in front of people…. But the teachers here really want to help you and make it easy.
ZT: Study for tests! Study. I would tell them that [BASIS Independent Brooklyn] is really fun, and you need to study for your tests and do your homework. I would tell them to go to student hours.
I loved getting to know these students, especially since I’m so new to BASIS Independent myself! I was so impressed with Camille, Zeyna, and Ellie after spending part of their Academic Enrichment class periods with them. They also made me feel confident that the faculty and leadership here at BASIS Independent Brooklyn quickly and successfully integrates transfer students into our campus network. We use all the tools at our disposal—our faculty, student hours, and a friendly community—to make sure that students entering BASIS Independent Brooklyn in the middle of their educational careers feel like they can succeed in their academic and social lives.
To find out more about BASIS Independent Brooklyn, attend an upcoming event. You can register for our events here.