FAQ

 

The Program Itself

  1. Will the City & Lake Semester run during the 2021-22 school year? answer
  2. What does it mean that we “meet downtown?” answer
  3. What does it mean that it’s a semester program? answer
  4. What credits will I get? answer
  5. How is BCL different? answer
  6. What will I do in the program? answer
  7. How many students are in the Burlington City & Lake Semester and Burlington Experience? answer

Joining the Program

  1. How do I apply? answer
  2. Can I choose which semester I want to be in? answer
  3. Can I apply with a friend? answer
  4. Is there a cost to participate? answer

Is Burlington City & Lake Semester For Me?

  1. What’s a typical Burlington City & Lake Semester student like? Who is the program for? answer
  2. Can I do sports? What about the play? answer
  3. I have unique learning needs. Will the Burlington City & Lake Semester work for me? answer
  4. How will this affect college applications, or college acceptance? answer

 

The Program Itself

Will the City & Lake Semester run during the 2021-22 school year?

Yes. We plan to run the City & Lake Semester in the Fall and Spring semester of the 2021-22 school year. If the COVID pandemic requires us to modify the program schedule, we will do so in a way that maintains the spirit and integrity of the program.

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What does it mean that we “meet downtown?”

On Blue Days (“City Days”), BCL students meet at our downtown homebase. Students will spend the full day in the city, and will not report to the BHS campus.  Attendance will be taken daily and students will be dismissed from downtown.  
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What does it mean that it’s a semester program?

BCL runs for one semester at a time. BCL students are part of the program for one semester. The other semester of that year, students will carry a regular schedule of classes at BHS.
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What credits will I get?

In the 2021-2022 school year, the Burlington City & Lake Semester will offer four semester (0.5) credits: 0.5 English, 0.5 Social Studies, and 1.0 General Elective credits. Note that students can earn up to 2.0 additional semester credits from the other BHS courses that will fill out their schedule on White Days.

The Burlington Experience course offers two semester (0.5) credits:  0.5 English and 0.5 Social Studies credits. Note that students can earn up to 3.0 additional  semester credits from the other BHS courses that will fill out their schedule on Blue and White Days.

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How is BCL different?

The Burlington City & Lake Semester and Burlington Experience are academic programs, but the days will look and feel quite different from typical school days.

  • First, the programs are based on experience–real-world, hands-on, place-based learning.
  • Second, we are invested in community-building, both within our group and in the city more broadly.
  • Third, the projects we will be working on are authentic. Often, they are based on real-world issues that the city is facing, and students’ work will be shared with real audiences.

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What will I do in the program?

Every semester is different, and students help to design the projects that we do together. Here are a few possibilities.

Imagine… working with the Parks Department to plant native tree species to help make the city’s natural areas more resilient to climate change.

Picture yourself… exploring the role art plays in Burlington’s cultural life–together with a professional artist–and then designing and creating an original piece of art for a public setting.

Imagine… interviewing City leaders and activists to hear different perspectives on how to address racial justice concerns, and creating a video to share their voices throughout the city.

Envision… designing a project that you care about deeply to improve the city of Burlington!

We are committed to discovery, student empowerment, and fun!

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How many students are in the Burlington City & Lake Semester and Burlington Experience?

The program will have approximately 15-20 students per semester.

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Joining the Program

How do I apply?

BHS students can apply right from the Burlington City & Lake Semester website, using the links in the Apply menu. Or contact the school counseling office to find out more.

If you have questions about the program, don’t hesitate to contact Project Director Andy Barker (abarker@bsdvt.org).

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Can I choose which semester I want to be in?

On the application, students can indicate their preference for the Fall or Spring semester of BCL or BE. But students are encouraged to discuss their preference with their school counselor to find the best fit in their schedule and Personalized Learning Plan.

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Can I apply with a friend?

YES!  We welcome pairs of students to apply together. Here’s how:

  • Both of you should fill out your own individual application form.
  • Next, you should send an email to abarker@bsdvt.org, indicating that you are “applying together.” Make sure both students’ names are included.

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Is there a cost to participate?

No.

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Is Burlington City & Lake Semester For Me?

What’s a typical Burlington City & Lake Semester student like? Who is the program for?

The program is designed for a wide variety of learners. It might be a great fit for someone who…

  • learns best in a real-world setting
  • wants more of an opportunity to have a voice, and to affect change
  • feels ready to take their learning “to the next level,” with integrated projects that use a variety of skills
  • likes working collaboratively with both peers and adult professionals
  • wants exposure to a variety of possible career paths
  • is looking for something for their college transcript that makes them “stand out”

The BCL faculty is committed to establishing a learning community that is engaged, empowered, and representative of Burlington’s many forms of diversity. 

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Can I do sports? What about the play?

Yes.  BCL “City Days” will end at 3pm each Blue Day. Students will have enough time to return to campus for sports practices or play practice. If there are early-dismissals (e.g., for away games), we will work to ensure you can participate, just as we would if you were at BHS.

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I have unique learning needs. Will the Burlington City & Lake Semester work for me?

The program is designed to support the needs of a wide variety of learning styles. You may find that learning in the context of the city increases your engagement, no matter what your learning style!

As a Burlington School District program, BCL also offers the same mandated supports that BHS does. If you have specific questions, we are happy to talk further.

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How will this affect college applications, or college acceptance?

We believe BCL will provide students a unique and valuable learning experience that will enrich any students’ college application. Many students feel that the only path to their ideal college is by staying on the traditional track. The reality is that the college applications that often rise to the top of the stack are the ones that stand out–the ones that tell a unique story. To stand out, students need to highlight their uniqueness and depth, and show that they are problem-solvers.

Consider this quote, from the New England Secondary Schools Consortium:

Much of the well-intentioned information offered to students and families suggests a formula for successful college admission. Students are advised to pursue specific courses of study and extracurricular activities. They are told to take Advanced Placement and other challenging coursework as offered at their schools, and to strive for a high grade point average (GPA) and class rank. But it’s a myth that there is only one path to college admission. Colleges have established their admissions offices to evaluate a broad range of applicants [including homeschoolers, international students, and students who have taken gap years]. Many students come to undergraduate life with work, military, and other life experience. All colleges have established systems to evaluate data from many different sorts of students.

In a crowded field, how can you stand out? Andy Lockwood, author of The Incomparable Applicant writes:

Here’s what most competitive colleges want:  an ATYPICAL teen. Put it this way:  if a college receives 40,000 applications for 5,000 slots, but approximately 10,000 applicants have virtually the same grades and scores……you must answer a big question when you submit your application: Why should they take YOU, compared to all the other kids who look the same on paper? Your task is to show them how you are not the ordinary, “regular” teen.

Regular, typical teens join a bunch of clubs. They are in National Honor Society. (Sorry, this is “typical,” not “special.”  Count the number of other inductees some time.) An Atypical Teen starts a club. Or engages in activities that very few of her peers – if any – pursue.

Many BCL alumni have written college essays about experiences they had in the City & Lake Semester. Many program alumni have been accepted to highly competitive colleges. Others have gone on to the military, gap year experiences, work, or other postsecondary education.

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