How Do BCA Freshmen Spend Their Frees? 

Jimmy (Dohyun) Lee, Writer

As many know, Bergen County Academies is a school that not only has a rigorous and tailored curriculum, but a unique scheduling system. The school is notorious for ending at a later time than most high schools and many students find themselves still on campus up to three hours after the end of the school day, which is at 4:10 P.M. However, these hours aren’t always packed, and in fact, many students have free time throughout each day of the school week. 

Many of the incoming freshmen are caught off guard by the amount of homework given in BCA. Unlike in middle school, succeeding in BCA requires a substantial amount of work. As a result, it is not unusual to see BCA students completing homework in their frees, whether it be in the Commons, cafeterias, or classrooms. 

The Academy Chronicle conducted a survey of the freshmen class which found that 66.7% of students spent their frees doing homework, while the other 33.3% hung out with their friends. Those who did their homework in school generally stated that this allowed them more free time at home to relax, hang out, or get more sleep. However, those who did not do homework in school felt that socializing during their frees provided a means of relaxation from schoolwork.

Often, many freshmen struggle to find a balance between school, socializing, and getting sleep. One anonymous freshman says, “I want to get [the homework] done, but it means I can’t spend time with friends.” The pattern among many students seems to be that only two of the following can be tended to: sleep, studies, or social life. 

Both ways of spending free time have their own benefits.  Hanging out with friends gives students a break from classes and homework and allows them to de-stress, especially after tests and quizzes. The Lower Caf even encourages socialization, with the pool and ping pong tables being available all throughout the day. Frees also provide an opportunity for students to bond with each other, especially with friends who don’t live in the same town as them.  On the other hand, studying leaves students with free time after school, which can be used in various ways, such as spending time with family, watching movies, or playing video games. Moreover, doing work in school gives students an opportunity to talk to teachers about any questions or struggles they have with the topic being taught in class. Those who finish, or do a majority of their homework at school, seem to have a better sleep schedule, often getting seven or more hours of sleep each night.

Some students complain that studying in school is difficult, if not impossible, while other students argue the opposite. “Sometimes a lot of distractions make it impossible for me to concentrate,” “School is not the best environment for studying,” and “[I] am too distracted or the commons is closed at the times I am free” were some responses from students who do not like studying in school.  This problem may be caused by many factors. For example, some students may find it difficult to study around many people. Many students study or do homework in the cafeterias, and it is possible that students feel distracted when studying in such chaotic areas. Another factor may be that the Commons is sometimes closed, which prevents the students from having a quiet place to study. This may deter them from finishing homework in school. 

However, there are also students  who do not have any complaints about distractions. 9th grader Brooke Yeong states, “I practically live in the commons. I finish my homework and study for my assessments there, go to soccer practice during elective hours, then go home and sleep at around 8:00 PM. On the weekends, I hang out with my friends.” Brooke’s daily schedule indicates that it is possible to balance a social life along with school and sleep.

It is necessary to keep in mind that the academy matters as well. Some academies tend to have a lighter workload than other academies. Students should take into consideration that some academies are required to take more classes than others which might increase the amount of studying required for those students. 

Overall , all of the students agree that free time at BCA is a blessing, in any way it is spent.