The Bay School of San Francisco

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Admission Process

How are students selected for admission to Bay?
Bay’s Admission Committee is comprised of faculty, staff, administrators and the Admission team. Admission applications are holistically reviewed, discussed and evaluated by the committee. Offers of admission are based on academic records, authentic connection to the school’s mission, and the applicant's desire to become an active and engaged member of the school community.

We believe diversity (of perspective, experience, background) is essential to an education that prepares students both for today and for the future. Bay maintains a commitment to building a diverse community. The Bay School of San Francisco admits students of any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national and ethnic origin, or handicap to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities of the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, scholarship programs, athletic and other school-administered programs.

How many spaces are available for the Class of 2023?
There are 90 seats in the Class of 2023. Admission to Bay is competitive as each year we receive approximately 600 applications.

Are applicants required to attend an open house, student visit or interview?
Open houses and student visits are optional events. We encourage prospective students and their parents/guardians to attend these and other admissions or school events to become as familiar as possible with our academic program and community culture.

The student interview is a required step in the application process.

What are Bay’s standardized testing requirements?
All 9th-grade applicants are required to submit Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) score reports and have the option of submitting a Character Skills Snapshot (CSS) report. In lieu of SSAT scores, we can accept ISEE scores. SSAT or ISEE scores must be from upper-level tests taken this fall and sent directly from SSAT to our office.

10th-grade transfer applicants should submit the SSAT, 11th- and 12th- grade transfer applicants should submit the PSAT or SAT.

Fee waivers for the SSAT and CSS are available from Bay’s Admission Office in limited quantities.

What is the Character Skills Snapshot? How is it used for admission?
At Bay, we believe the future needs both critical thinkers and ethical leaders. Character development and personal growth are essential components of a Bay education.

While a prospective student’s character has always been important to our admission process, we have not had a quantitative tool that we could use to measure the character skills students are developing. Grades and test scores do not tell us the whole story of a student.

The Character Skills Snapshot (CSS) provides more holistic information and illuminates areas where Bay can help a student grow and thrive. It is a way for us to get to know your child better and an opportunity for us to explore the ways in which Bay's community can enrich and develop your child’s intellectual curiosity and social awareness.

For more information about the CSS, go to

Does Bay accept transfer applications?
Based on space availability in individual grades, Bay welcomes transfer applications. The application process is the same for transfer as it is for 9th-grade admission.

Does Bay accept international applications?
At this time we are unable to participate in the student visa process or to provide housing for students. We are a day school whose student population is made up of local San Francisco Bay Area residents. We do not have a structure in place to consider international applicants. We do accept applications from U.S. citizens living and studying abroad who will be repatriating with their families.

Does Bay give sibling applicants priority in the admission process?
The Bay School welcomes applications from siblings of current or alumni students. We feel a great sense of affirmation and gratitude when a current or alumni family sees a Bay education as valuable for another child.

Admission to Bay is dependent on many factors. While we value all of our families and their contributions to our history and community, it is important to understand that neither admission nor tuition assistance is guaranteed for any student. We strongly encourage Bay parents and guardians to apply to several schools.

When will families be notified of admissions decisions?
On March 19, 2020, Bay will mail offers of admission via First Class Mail. Generally, most decisions arrive within two business days for those students who reside in the Bay Area. Rarely, there are delays with the United States Post Office that are beyond our control. All decisions will also be sent to your Ravenna account email address and posted on Ravenna on March 20, 2020 after 4:00 pm.

How and when do I accept an offer of admission?
Students offered admission to Bay are required to submit their enrollment agreements and tuition deposits by 12:00 noon on March 27 ,2020. Students wishing to accept offers of admission with flexible tuition grants are required to submit their enrollment agreements and tuition deposits by 12:00 noon on March 26, 2020. Enrollment agreements will not be accepted after their respective deadlines.


Academics & Student Life at Bay

Where is The Bay School located?
The Bay School is located in a beautifully renovated building in the Presidio of San Francisco, the nation’s largest urban national park. We’re surrounded by beaches, the bay, expansive green space, forests, athletic facilities and miles of running and biking trails. Getting here is easy; come visit us!

What makes Bay different than other schools?
The Bay School shares attributes common to those of most independent high schools in our region. We offer an intellectually challenging curriculum, we have a deep commitment to diversity and we sustain a compassionate and responsible community. Beyond those attributes, however, our focus is definitely and distinctly our own. Our mission and philosophy emphasize equipping students with the skills, habits, and values that will prepare them for life and for leadership in the 21st century. Students at Bay are encouraged to customize their education through an investigative, innovative and interdisciplinary curriculum. In the 11th- and 12th-grades, the academic program is increasingly driven by students’ individual interests and talents, and students can choose from over 70 upper-level elective courses across eight disciplines.

What does Bay’s schedule look like?
Bay operates on a semester schedule, punctuated by two 3-week Immersive terms. In each semester, students take five courses that meet four times a week, for 80 minutes each day, in a rotating weekly block schedule. In each Immersive, students take one course that meets all day, every day. The semester and Immersive model is unique among Bay Area high schools and an innovative leap forward that creates increased opportunities for experiential, project-based, and interdisciplinary learning.

Does Bay have a dress code?
Bay students do not wear uniforms, and we celebrate everyone’s individual style. We expect students to avoid clothes that are too revealing or that contain offensive graphics, but students can be comfortable here expressing themselves.

How does Bay support students?
Bay students are supported by a network of faculty and staff advisors, two part-time learning specialists, and a school counselor. Students meet weekly with their advisor in small groups of between eight to ten students and are encouraged to schedule private meetings with their advisors as needed. Advisors also serve as an important link between home and school. Four afternoons each week there is a designated mini-block, called Tutorial, within the academic schedule exclusively set aside as time for students to meet with their teachers individually or in small groups to receive academic support and guidance. Tutorial is also a time when students can meet with their advisors, work quietly in the library or schedule meetings with learning services. 

How does Bay use technology and how does the 1:1 laptop program work?
Computing technology is an integral part of the academic experience at Bay. Every student at Bay is issued a laptop supported by a wireless campus-wide network - new ninth graders will have their choice of a Mac or PC laptop. Both in-class work and homework are done primarily on laptops, and the use of technology is integrated with more traditional educational methodologies to enhance instruction. Beyond the regular use of laptops by all students, The Bay School’s emphasis on technology is demonstrated through a strong engineering and robotics program housed in our Project Center, and courses in biotechnology, applied science, mathematical modeling, computer programming and digital arts.

How much homework do students typically have?
We define academic rigor as sophistication of thought and inquiry, generation and application of novel solutions and effectiveness in diverse modes of communication. Rigor is not defined by the amount of homework assigned; indeed there is much evidence that the amount of work assigned does not correlate with the amount learned. Our schedule and calendar are specifically designed so that our students spend more time, and accomplish more work, inside the classroom. Therefore, Bay teachers are especially careful to assign outside work that is meaningful and purposeful.

A typical 9th-grader is assigned two hours of homework per week in most classes; a typical 10th grader is assigned approximately three hours per week in most classes. 9th- and 10th- grade humanities courses assign slightly more homework due to the types of skills developed in these courses.

Upper-level electives are considerably more reading-intensive and demanding of sustained time investment. In general 11th- and 12th-graders can expect approximately four hours of homework per course per week, somewhat more if they are enrolled in honors courses.

What team sports are offered at Bay?
Bay fields 24 teams at varsity, junior varsity and frosh/soph levels in 10 different sports; baseball, basketball, cross-country, golf, lacrosse, sailing, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball.

Where do Bay students go after graduation?
Bay graduates have received acceptances at more than 378 colleges and universities throughout the country and internationally. Among these are Brown, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Princeton, Yale, Wellesley, St. Andrews, UC Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, Tufts and Duke. Bay’s college counseling office begins to work with students in 11th grade and focuses on self-reflection and the discovery to find the right fit for each student.

Does Bay offer AP and Honors courses?
Bay does not offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses and is proud to be a leader in a rapidly-growing national movement away from the AP system. AP curricula typically prescribe a course of study that prevents the depth of exploration and creative inquiry that serves as a hallmark of a Bay education. Each year, a number of Bay students successfully prepare for and take AP exams, committing themselves to additional study and preparation outside the normal school day. Bay students who earn high marks on the AP exams earn course credit at those colleges and universities that participate in the AP system.

Bay challenges students by offering advanced electives in all disciplines. Bay’s 11th-and 12th-grade electives--some of which are designated as honors courses--are similar to college level courses in their content and complexity. Colleges and universities through the U.S., including the University of California, consider our upper-level electives distinctive in their sophistication and commonly give many of these courses the same weight as AP courses in the application process.