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Courses FAQ

How Are Courses Assigned?

Students have the opportunity to rank their choice of classes when they apply.  The Academy attempts to place students in their first class choice, but some classes have many more applicants than seats available. The instructor for each class reviews student files and determines whether an applicant would be able to successfully complete the class by considering such factors as the student’s school transcript, essay responses, letter of recommendation, and, if applicable, their previous work at the Academy.

You increase your chances of being accepted to JBA if you rank as many courses as you are willing to consider and if you make yourself available for either session.  The more options you are willing to consider, the more flexibility we have in placing you if you are unable to be placed in a high-demand course.

The Academy will inform students once their application has been received and completed. Students whose applications are complete by the deadline of December 3, 2021 will have the best chance of receiving their first class choice. No student will be placed in a class until his/her application is complete.

After each instructor has reviewed all of his/her applications and chosen his/her students, we will notify the students by email in early March 2022 of acceptance to the Academy.

What Class Should I Take?

All of the Academy’s classes are challenging, for they are designed to be the approximate equivalent of a semester-long university course offered during the regular academic year. Of course the classes have to be adapted to correspond to the three-week session (Truman semesters are fifteen weeks long), but faculty members still have high expectations for the performance of the students.  Students accepted to JBA will enroll in ONE concentrated college course, which meets six hours each weekday and three hours on Saturdays.  These classes are taught by Truman State University faculty.

The Academy’s classes fall within one of several categories:

Social Sciences are classes that investigate human behavior and activity in its social and cultural context. More specifically, social scientists consider what motivates human beings in both private and public settings. Students will learn how to collect evidence, test a hypothesis, analyze results, and present conclusions. Past JBA classes that belong to the Social Sciences group include: Illuminating the Black Box: Cognitive Neuroscience; Why We Fought: American Wars from World War I to Iraq; Crime and Justice in America; and Advocacy, Argument and Persuasion: Classical Rhetoric in Contemporary Times, Psychology Through Science Fiction.

Natural Sciences are classes that attempt to understand and explain the natural world. Students will learn how to gather and analyze evidence in order to develop experiments that will test a hypothesis. Scientists use proven and disproven hypotheses to develop a tentative series of laws and theories in order to create a model that describes the natural world. Past JBA classes that belong to the Natural Sciences group include: Introduction to Chemistry; Underwater Biology; Extra Solar Planets and the Search for Life; The The Human Lab; A Star Called the Sun; Backyard Ecology:  From Field to Laboratory Ecological and Missouri Mammals: Natural History, Ecology and Behavior.

Mathematics/Computer Sciences are classes that create structures to describe the relationship and functions of concrete and abstract objects. Students must employ a rigorous logic whether they are working with a branch of mathematics (such as geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and calculus) or a specific language in computer sciences (such as JAVA or Visual Basic). These classes also are invaluable tools for many disciplines, especially the natural and social sciences. Past JBA classes that belong to the Mathematics/Computer Sciences group include The Art and Science of Computer Programming; The Mathematics of Secret Messages; The Art and Science of Business and Entrepreneurship; and Preparatory College Algebra. We also offer two courses that teach sophisticated applications of computing technology: Computers in Art and Design and An “Animated” Course.

Humanities are classes that examine the culture of human beings. More specifically, the Humanities strive to examine and appreciate human values by examining creative works (such as literature, art, and music) and systems (such as languages and ethics). Students will learn how to analyze and evaluate the creative world of humans and to express their personal reactions. Past JBA classes that belong to the Humanities group include: Ancient Greek:  A Modern Odyssey;  Biomusicology: The Study of Music from a Biological Perspective; German Language and Culture;  Can You Say That With Your Hands? An Introduction to American Sign Language and Deaf Culture; This Just In! Radio and Television Broadcasting; “Read All About It” Newspaper Reporting and Production; and In Focus:  The Art and Practice of Filmmaking.

Fine Arts are classes that nurture human creativity by allowing students to engage in the production of music, art, acting, and fiction. Students will learn the conventions of a specific academic discipline and how to channel and express their own creative impulses. JBA students in these classes will have an opportunity to display or perform their works before the Academy. Past JBA classes that belong to the Fine Arts group include: Clay Castles and Medieval Mugs; The Writer’s Craft; Computers in Art and Design; An “Animated” Course; Nature Writing; and Theater: Onstage and Off. We also offer two courses that approach fine arts via computers – see “Mathematics/Computer Sciences,”above.

Truman has a distinctive focus on interdisciplinary.  Interdisciplinary classes draw from different areas of the liberal arts. For instance, these offerings have included:  Argumentation: The Toolbox of Inquiry; Communicating Politics: Rhetoric and Campaigns in the Communication Age; Creating a Usable Past: Genealogy and Local History, which are areas of study in their own right, but which apply to a wide variety of human inquiries, problems, and endeavors. In fact, all of our JBA courses strive to meet the interdisciplinary challenge: to bring various ways of thinking and learning together in one course, to challenge students to find how disciplines solve problems and address creativity in different ways.

How do I increase my chances of securing a spot in the Academy?

You will have the opportunity to rank your preference for each of the classes offered, in each of the two sessions.  The goal of the Academy is to place students in the courses they are best qualified for while also trying to respect students’ preferences as much as possible.  The more flexibility you show in your application, the higher the probability that we will be able to place qualified applicants in a course at the Academy.  Therefore, we encourage students to rank ALL courses that they would consider accepting.  Students who are returning to the Academy for their second or third year, however, should not rank courses they have already had.  Students who are available for both sessions (one or the other) also increase their odds of placement.

Comments from Recent Academy Graduates:

  • “My personal focuses are math, computer science, and music, and in each of my years at JBA I was able to attend a class that fit my interests.” (Victor, age 15)

Are There Waiting Lists For Closed Classes?

Although we would like to accommodate all students who apply to the Academy, due to space limitations, this is not possible. Over 175 students were not able to be placed in the first round of acceptances in 2019.  Students who could not be assigned to one of the choices indicated on their application will be notified at the same time as the students who were assigned. They will have the choice of going on a waiting list for one of their original choices or withdrawing. Students on a waiting list will be notified after the April 13th, 2022 Acceptance / first payment deadline of any openings.  As students decline offers, or make decisions to pursue other summer opportunities, we place students who have requested waiting list placement in the order they are received.  Placement on a waiting list is not a guarantee of placement into a course.

Can Students Attend Both Sessions?

Students may apply to attend both sessions. At the time that they initially apply to the program, they should indicate this desire in the comments sections on the application form. Of course they still must be selected by the JBA faculty member of each class to which they apply before they are allowed to attend each session.  Every year approximately 10% of our students attend both sessions.

Students who attend both sessions must go home at the end of Session I. They will, however, be permitted to leave their belongings in their room.  Normally students are able to remain in the same room for both sessions, but occasionally housing placement pressures require the JBA staff to move the student to a different room.

How Are Students Evaluated in JBA Classes?

Approximately two weeks after the end of the session, students will receive a description of the course they completed and an individualized evaluation. The faculty member will assess each student’s performance in the class, address their academic strengths and weaknesses, and suggests areas for further academic development. Students and parents may wish to send a copy of the assessment to their own school to be placed in a student’s record.

We believe the primary purpose of attending the Joseph Baldwin Academy should be experiencing the unique intellectual stimulation the program provides.  For this and other reasons, the Academy does not offer high school or college credit for courses completed. Students, however, may negotiate with their local school officials for credit or advanced placement.