Every admissions season we field hundreds of questions about the admissions process, our program, the transition, student life, electives, extracurriculars, and so much more!
While we are happy to speak to every one of our families, we notice the same questions being asked consistently.
Keep reading below to learn more about the top ten questions asked every admissions season.
#1 - How many students will be admitted in each grade?
Our most commonly asked question! Seat capacity changes from year to year depending on the reenrollment of our current families and our graduating class. We also have the ability to shift how many sections of classes we offer based on the total enrollment of the school. As this is an ever-changing number, we aren’t able to determine seat capacity until around February, after the reenrollment deadline of our current families, which is why we make the majority of our admissions offers (Regular Admissions) in March. So, though we cannot provide you specifics of exactly how many seats are available “this year” and in “this grade”, we encourage you to apply as we will have available seats in all grades every year. If you are interested in a BASIS Independent Silicon Valley education, apply!
#2 - What is the difference between Early Admissions and Regular Admissions?
We offer two application cycles during our core season. Early Admissions will require families to complete their application, receive an admissions decision, and accept their seat earlier. Regular Admissions will have all the same requirements but at a later date.
For current families with siblings or families whose first choice is BISV, we encourage them to apply in Early Admissions. For families who are looking at other schools or are unable to commit early, we encourage them to apply in Regular Admissions.
#3 - How do you help students transition into the program?
From their very first day, all new students are placed on an academic support plan. At the start of the new school year, your student meets with his or her dean once a week to ensure a smooth transition. Sometimes this is an individual meeting, and sometimes it is all new students together. Teachers provide office hours throughout the school week for students and parents and are available to talk through concerns or questions. Depending on the grade we offer a student-led Peer Tutoring program, which operates after school and is there to help expand their networks and become comfortable asking for help. We also offer Summer School along with JumpStart Packets before the start of the school year.
We enroll new students every year. For students to achieve the results that they do in our program, they must have the necessary support along their academic journey, from both the school and at home. While we encourage families to join our program sooner rather than later, students can still join in later grades and be incredibly successful.
#4 - Can a student successfully transition from a public school to your program?
Every year, we have students join us from multiple public schools. Any motivated student can excel in our program. We have a strong support network to ensure a student has the toolkit to succeed. In the beginning, there is always some adjustment for students from both public and private schools. Workloads may be higher than the averages in the beginning as students adjust to the structure and practices of our day-to-day program and classroom experience. However, we see time and again, that students adjust and learn how to utilize their resources to thrive in their school life.
School administration, faculty, and staff are always present to participate in supporting and guiding students, as well as helping develop good work and study habits, along with time management skills.
#5 - How much homework should students expect in middle school and high school?
This depends on the student, their core classes, electives, after-school activities, and even what time of year it is, especially in high school. Grade 5 students will typically see 45 minutes to an hour of homework every night, but that depends on the day and the student. Grade 6 students will have one to one and a half hours of homework. Grade 7 students will have one to two hours of homework. Grade 8 students, as they prepare for our high school program, could have two to three hours of homework each night, but that once again depends on the student and their schedule. Our Student Affairs Team assists in monitoring homework but since each student, their work ethic, and their schedules can vary, it is hard to say an exact time for each grade.
#6 - With such high academics, do students even have time for clubs and sports?
Absolutely! Almost 80% of our student body participates in at least one extracurricular activity at our school every year. But our answer to this is, "it always depends on the student." We have Upper School students taking two to three AP courses and they participate in one to two clubs or more, but we also have Lower School students that take their required coursework and only have time to participate in one club.
Students are given the tools to learn and practice organization, time management, and work and study habits. But no two students are alike. It is more important to us that our students learn to take on only what they can handle, challenge themselves when appropriate, and learn when and if they need to turn their focus elsewhere. Many students may play a sport or participate in a club on campus but also engage in an activity outside of school such as ballet or martial arts. Our students learn to manage their time while exploring and enjoying their extracurricular interests and passions.
#7 - What is your teacher hiring process?
We believe academic degrees or experience in the disciplines taught, and passion for that subject are the most important tools for inspiring deep content understanding in students. Our selective hiring process screens for candidates who are committed to sharing their expertise and helping students become the best versions of themselves. All final candidates are invited to conduct a Teacher Demo, where Heads of School assemble classes of our students, and candidates are given the opportunity to teach a lesson, challenge students, show their subject expertise, as well as show their ability to communicate high-level subject matter to young students. Our students take these sessions seriously; they know their feedback weighs heavily in our hiring decisions. Some new faculty members have been teaching for years in college preparatory or university settings. Others are leaving a research lab or corporate job to leap into a new career and share their experience and applied knowledge with BASIS Independent students.
#8 - What is your student-to-teacher ratio in the classroom?
TK and Kindergarten will have around 20 students to two teachers per classroom. Grades 1 - 4 will have around 25 students per class with a Learning Expert Teacher (LET) that stays with them throughout the day and an individual Subject Expert Teacher (SET) that joins their class for each subject. Grade 5 and above will also have around 25 students but have an individual Subject Expert Teacher for each subject.
#9 - How do you teach soft skills such as confidence, self-control, and self-awareness?
Obviously, these skills are taught in conjunction with the home and parents. On the school side, students are a part of a learning community, one that gives the opportunity for young adults to better themselves, take risks, have achievements, have failures, learn lessons, etc. Through the natural course of a school day, students are partaking in that community and are not only learning these life skills, and respecting themselves, but also others.
Whether it be their behavior in the hallways, participating in class discussions, or connecting with friends during lunchtime or after school, they are learning these lessons through their relationships with their teachers and fellow students. It’s a daily journey and one that sometimes requires students to be reminded of the community they are a part of, the respect they require, and the respect we require them to show other people. This is where their relationships with their teachers, fellow students, and Dean of Students really come into play.
#10 - How does the school work with families in helping push their students to achieve more?
It’s all about striking the right balance, which is different for every student, even students in the same household. At home, we hope parents and students are having a constant dialogue on how they are doing, handling stress, what new passions and interests they want to pursue, how they want to challenge themselves, and even what they need to cut back on. Having “too much on your plate” is a good life lesson in balancing personal life, social life, responsibilities, school, work, etc. but also being able to acknowledge when you need to take a step back and reevaluate what you can and cannot do, is just as worthy.
We don’t believe changing course means failure, you’ve just learned a different lesson than you thought you would. At school, we help students feel supported and encouraged to pursue something, whether it be starting a club, taking two electives, or planning a Senior Project. If they succeed, we are celebrating with them. But far more is probably learned in those times when a student realizes they pushed themselves too hard, stretched themselves too thin, and did not accomplish what they initially intended to. Even in those times, in partnership with their home, we are there to help them learn those important lessons as well.
BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is a TK - Grade 12 private school, providing students an internationally benchmarked liberal arts and sciences curriculum, with advanced STEM offerings. Considering joining the Bobcat community? Join our interest list by clicking here to receive admissions updates for fall 2023 and more.