Nearly every review on this site, whether negative or positive, has drawn the same conclusion about BU Academy: it isn't for everybody. Make no mistake: BUA is a welcoming and enjoyable place, with truly enthusiastic and supportive teachers. But, having graduated from BUA this year, I'd like to define BUA in slightly different terms. BUA is the perfect school for anybody whose commitment to academic rigor extends beyond lip service.
If you're prepared to work endlessly for seemingly-lukewarm grades in subjects that you considered yourself strong in, then BUA is for you. If you are willing to take classes populated by university students and taught by professors who don't care that you're a high schooler, BUA will be well worth the effort. If you can manage pressure from your teachers, your peers, your parents, and yourself, all while smiling and laughing at the absurdity of it all, you will enjoy BUA and fit in with your classmates.
Conversely, if you expect your teachers' primary concern to be "nurturing" you rather than teaching you, BUA will constitute a rude awakening. If you're looking for classes and seminars that exude intellectuality and haughtiness, but from which you will emerge unscathed and unchallenged, there are other schools that will deliver just that. If you want your high school to affirm your supposed giftedness at the expense of actually testing your talents and developing your abilities, BUA is not the school for you.
BUA is unpretentious: students work hard to prove themselves, and the school makes no self-congratulatory claim that isn't backed up by the level of work. For that reason, any bright, hard-working student will get out exactly what he/she puts into BUA. It might not be for everybody, but for the right student with the right attitude, it is the best and most rewarding high school around.
The teachers are enthusiastic about their classes and respectful of their students. They generally don't claim to be infallible, and they encourage students to challenge or discuss their claims. That's more true in the humanities than in math and science, of course, but all around, the teachers at BUA are amazing.
BUA makes us work for everything, so there is no room for pretense or faking. For that reason, BUA doesn't tolerate academic dishonesty, and punishments are sometimes doled out to "make an example" out of particularly bad cases. Also, as hard as BUA is, students aren't really competitive against eachother, so people rarely feel the need to cheat to get ahead.
BUA is unique. The academy is embedded in a major university and offers its students the chance to choose from every academic course in the university s catalogue. All while providing a safe harbor from which these kids can venture into the university environment. My son is about to complete his sophomore year at the Academy and his experience so far has been nothing short of transformational. Yes, he has had to work extremely hard. I attended one of the top universities in the United States and, frankly, he s working harder than I ever did. (That may, in part, reflect the times, but it also reflects the expectations BUA has for its students. One of his closest friends attends Andover Academy; both of them have concluded that my son s curriculum at BUA is significantly more demanding than his friend s curriculum at Andover.) Those who manage to stick it out, though, are rewarded not only with an education of unsurpassed richness and depth but, so long as they maintain a B average, guaranteed admission to B.U. as sophomores. Depending on the University courses they took at BUA, they can earn their undergrad degrees in 2-1/2 years. BUA's amazing. Just not for everyone.
It's very hard to write this review because my time at BUA was simultaneously one of the best and one of the worst times of my life. The students are some of the nicest kids you'll ever meet, and most of the faculty members are phenomenal as well (Dr. Proll is one of the best teacher's I've ever had). After years of being the outcast nerd, I finally found a place with kids like me, who loved to learn and wanted to be intellectually challenged. The downside was the crippling amount of work and the complete lack of caring for struggling students. At BUA, I found myself doing about 5 hours of homework on a week night and a total of about 13 hours on the weekend. I had no time for anything else. While I flourished in many classes, I drowned in the subjects where I was less proficient. Though I was falling behind in classes and had missed a lot of days, the school did nothing to help. The more I failed, the more depressed I became. I ultimately dropped out of the school because of overwhelming depression. Overall, if you think you can survive in a situation in which all you ever do is study, then BUA is the place for you. If not, BUA can ruin your life.
As you can tell from below, opinions of the school can be quite polarized. I like to think that I fall somewhere in the middle and hope to give a fair review. First of all, the school is definitely not for everyone. The workload can be large and unbalanced, stress often runs high, and it can be hard living 2 hours away from some of your friends. However there are also a number of great aspects. Most of the teachers are incredibly supportive, so long as you go to them for assistance and put in distinct effort. While some schools may have safety nets, BUA had a safety lifeline. You need to reach out and grab it, it won't just automatically catch you, and you need to grab on before it's too late. Learning to deal with the high pressure atmosphere has set me up incredibly for activities outside of the school. However, I also have friends who have either developed anxiety problems, or had existing ones worsen because of the high pressure environment. Socially, I've learned to hold meaningful relationships while at a distance, I connect with friends online and savor the time we have together in person. For me, BUA was definitely the right choice.
I was a freshman two years ago. I wanted to post something because I left after my freshman year and I wished someone had told me more about how the school works. I think it's telling that the students who write positive reviews feel the need to put down their classmates who left. It's an environment that's not supportive and the teacher's were not available. Overall I did not leave because I was not doing well in school, but because I felt like the school had some serious weaknesses that I didn't think I could live through for another three years. I am not at Commonwealth and am much happier- the teachers are more supportive. Before you commit- make sure you know what you are getting into- if you read the final two sentences of the previous comments and imagine a place where the teachers, your fellow students and the administrators are all saying that to you and see if that is an environment where you would thrive.
I graduated a month ago and had an extraordinary experience. I will miss BU Academy greatly. I have made some fantastic relationships with teachers that have always been willing to go out of their way for me. To see BUA's effectiveness, one simply has to look at the results that BUA's education, extracurriculars, and networking enable. Not merely SAT scores and college acceptances, but what my friends and I are doing the summer after our senior year. My friend and I are doing real work as engineering interns at very well-known defense contractors. Another friend is working for a consulting firm analyzing insurance markets. Some of my friends are just relaxing, but only because they wanted a last "summer off" before college. Essentially any upperclassman can participate at research at BU, if they want to. I will say that this school demands a great deal of work. If you simply aren't willing to do the work, then BUA is not the place for you: you'll get asked to leave. Some of the parent reviewers on this site need to realize that their child is not a "special snowflake". If your child was willing to put in the effort, (s)he would not have been ushered out. Simple as that.
Our son was recently accepted at this school. It was a decision between this and Commonwealth. Yes, Commonwealth has great reviews as a nurturing school, etc... but he felt that the instruction and the community was more to his liking at BUA. He's a fidgety kid and some of the revisit classes at Commonwealth were lectures which are totally not his learning style. For me personally, the admissions staff at BUA are great and approachable. For the parent interview, the interviewer was the most awesome interviewer we've ever met. Down to earth and engaging. A model for what all interviewers should be like. And we've done plenty of interviews during the past few years trying to get our kids into private schools to escape the dreadful public schools. The vast majority are cold and distant. So we'll see how it goes. I plan on posting again in the fall or early 2015 to let people know how it went.