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Buckingham Browne and Nichols School

Student rating 4.8/ 5 by Wellesley College student
80 Gerrys Landing Road Cambridge MA 02138 United States


Buckingham Browne and Nichols Schoolreview by Wellesley College student. Buckingham Browne & Nichols school B-12(known as BB&N) has a tradition of academic excellence. BB&N's motto is honor, scholarship, and kindness. BB&N encourages students to try honors and Advanced Placement courses in all disciplines. Unfortunately, some of BB&N's most distinguished faculty have retired in recent years. BB&N offers important foreign languages like Spanish, French, Latin, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and most recently, Arabic. BB&N promotes the idea of languages as one's "passport to the world." There are many language clubs students can participate in as well as foreign exchanges and trips. BB&N teachers write detailed comments for every student that outline the student's strengths and weaknesses. This individualizes students rather than just assigning letter grades. Also, each student's advisor writes a personal letter. Teachers and peer tutors are available for extra-help if students need it. Outside tutoring is discouraged but students often resort to outside tutors if they are concerned about their grades. Because of the inevitable competition surrounding college, students everywhere are increasingly anxious about getting accepted. However, the increased number of applications to colleges has not impacted the top-tier colleges and universities that continue to accept BB&N students every year. Math and Science courses are also challenging at BB&N. Students can choose to take SAT II's for Physics, Biology, Chemistry, etc. BB&N provides preparation for these tests. BB&N challenged me and allowed me to grow intellectually. Most of the teachers I had cared deeply about my learning. The environment at BB&N often becomes too stressful for some students juggling academics, required after-school athletics, extra-curricular activities, and home life. BB&N definitely prepares you for college. I am doing well at Wellesley College and I have BB&N to thank for it. BB&N pushed me hard but it also nurtured me in a way that others schools might not have. Class sizes at BB&N are usually from 12-16 students. This allows for individual attention and a richer learning environment. Most faculty members are accessible. The average workload varies depending on course selection, number of AP's, personal pace and time management. The hours spent on homework increase with age. 3 hours is a good estimate for upperclassmen.

College Counseling

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Sample insights on college counseling
  • "They have contacts at most of the major universities and feel perfectly comfortable picking up the phone and advocating for a student to get accepted somewhere they feel is a good fit for that student. However, these counselors are certainly not magic bullets. They cannot guarantee that a student will get into an Ivy League university…"
  • "For those wishing to move on to Oxford or Cambridge, the provision is second-to-none. In the months running up to application and interview, every subject faculty offers classes (often run by former Oxbridge tutors) exploring further areas of their subject as well as offering advice on personal statements, interview technique and more…"

Admissions - Getting Accepted

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Sample insights on admissions
  • "Most younger siblings have an easy time in the admissions process. I can only think of one case of a younger sibling not being admitted. About half of the students who entered with me had come from public schools. The remainder came from private K-6 schools, or had transfered from other New York private schools The Elizabeth Morrow School and St. Bernard's were two of the larger feeder schools…"
  • "For the interview, dress conservatively. Try to be very clean and put together. Also, I was a tour guide for two years and at the end of every tour, we were asked to evaluate the candidate so if you think the tour is not apart of the process, you are very wrong. Ask questions and be interested. Also, tip for the parents*the kids speak on the tour. Don't ask their questions for them because their evaluation will be affected by the fact that the guides didn't hear a thing from the kid…"

School Life

The middle school does not have a cafeteria so students must provide their own lunch. The upper school has a great nutritional cafeteria that offers a daily hot lunch, sandwich and salad bar, fruit options, milk, juices, and different desserts. BB&N is a day school only. The facilities at BB&N are very new. A recent construction project revamped the whole upper school providing many new classrooms with lovely oblong wooden tables, and new spaces for the orchestra, theater, and the arts. Students can enjoy the luxury of an internet cafe and nicely designed grade centers and hangout places. Students also can benefit from BB&N's urban location. Harvard Square is a popular place to go after school and it's only a 10-15 minute walk from the Upper School. BB&N has a helpful library with an adjacent quiet room for students who need silence to study. BB&N's website cites that 25% of student are "of color." Need-based financial aid is available for those students who qualify. BB&N encourages students who need financial aid to apply. BB&N has a strong connection with its parents. Parents become strongly involved in the life of the school, often volunteering for different events and planning activities for the students. Parents can choose to become involved in the Parent's Association. BB&N's school culture is like many high schools. Students at this age often break off into cliques. Oftentimes athletes will stay together, wealthier students stay together, "geeky" students stay together, artsy students stay together, etc. This is NOT true in every case; it's just a broad generalization. Often social groups do not follow this pattern and students form friendships and interact with students very different from themselves. Peers often contribute positively to the community. BB&N hosts weekly "X-Block" Assemblies that bring the school together. BB&N often invites exciting guest speakers. In my senior year, Dr. Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health, spoke about his experiences providing health care in struggling countries. Students and teachers also speak at these assemblies which allows students to get to know community members better. Some may describe BB&N as a "pressure cooker." However, if students learn how to manage their time and go out of their way to locate resources when they need them, they are up for an exciting academic experience that will challenge them in many ways. In fact, every 9th grade BB&N student begins his or her first two weeks of high school on a traditional camping trip called "Bivouac" where students learn how to chop wood, sleep in tents, cook over a fire, build an A-frame and latrine, and bond as a class. The school's approach to discipline was excellent. BB&N has a wonderful Dean of Students and even a student disciplinary committee that has influence over decisions made by the administration regarding violations of school polices. However, the BB&N administration could value the Student Government's voice more. BB&N may benefit from giving students a homework free night occasionally to give everyone a deserved break.

BB&N has many great optional clubs and organizations to choose from. These range from the award-winning newspaper "The Vanguard," to the Model UN which travels to exciting conferences in Washingon, D.C, to the "Spectator" a literary magazine. The school also has language, community service, music, and multicultural clubs. Some students can start their own club with the help of a faculty member. Students can choose how much time they want to devote to extra-curricular activities. Community Service is required of BB&N highs school students. Students must complete 40 hours to graduate. Most students enjoy community service. A great number of students do a lot more than 40 hours of service by the time they graduate; this is encouraged. Seniors often participate in community service during their Senior Spring Project, an independently designed project that takes place during the end of senior year. BB&N also has Community Service days where students may visit a local nursing home, clean up the Charles riverbank, and many other options.