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Independent Study Program

BWL's Independent Study (IS) provides opportunities for highly motivated 7th - 12th grade students to explore a particular subject or topic of interest while developing the skills to produce high-level academic projects.

This program is designed for students who:

  • Excel in a specific subject area/topic.
  • Wish to expand their knowledge through independent study and mentorship.
  • Want to develop their research skills and learn how to produce high-quality academic writing.
  • Desire a mentor.

Eligible students are paired with a mentor teacher in their focused subject area, as well as an IS advisor for weekly meetings. These faculty members provide direction, support, and the skills for students to explore their passions and produce a final project of which they can be proud. 

Each Independent Study takes place over either the Fall or Spring term, with a culminating Independent Study Symposium where students present what they have learned and created.

Program Structure

Each student will be assigned an independent study advisor (IS advisor) and a faculty mentor (a faculty member in the department related to the topic area, or with expertise in the topic). 

Students will meet weekly with their IS advisor in order to: 

  • Track and maintain progress on their final project.
  • Learn how to access and navigate research resources (JSTOR, EBSCO, etc).
  • Learn proper citation and Works Cited formats.
  • Outline and create the type of paper or project the student will produce.
  • Create a proper thesis statement.

The Faculty Mentor will provide the following:

  • Initial list of resources (books, articles, documentaries, etc.) for the student to begin their research. Once the student has finalized a focus for their project, the mentor will provide more specific resources. These will coincide with two initial meetings in the beginning of the program. 
  • Minimum of one monthly one-on-one discussion with the student. 
  • Clarification or other avenues for exploration in the topic. 
  • Availability for questions via email (i.e. clarifications, additional articles, etc.)

Culmination: At the end of the program, each student will have produced an academic study of some kind. This can be a paper, essay, collection of artwork, documentary, or another type of product approved by their IS advisor.

Independent Study Symposium: Each student will present what they have learned during their IS. This event will be open to students, faculty, administrators, and parents from the community

Questions About the Program

What are the eligibility requirements?

All students in 7th-12th grade are eligible to apply for this program. Students must have earned a B or higher in relevant courses over the past two years (if a student joined BWL within the last two years, eligibility will be based on the grades from their previous transcript).

When will it begin?

Applications for the 2023 Fall cohort are closed. Stay tuned for 2024 Fall cohort applications.

How do students apply?

The application requirements include:

  • A topic idea provided by the student.
  • A letter of recommendation from a faculty member in their area of study.

Applications for the 2023 Fall cohort closed on September 5, 2023.
For more information about the Independent Study program, please contact Assistant Head of School Geoff Fisher. 

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