What Happens When.....

This article offers answers to some of the more common concerns we parents have when our child goes off to boarding school. Most, but not all, of these questions and their answers come from my own personal experience.
 
1. Your child is expelled?
 
Expulsion is a big deal. You will have a lot of explaining to do when you apply to another private school.  It may just be that you will have to send your child to public school for the rest of the academic year while you try to find a new school willing to take her. I have always taken the view that it is how we handle failure which is the true measure of our character. Shall we learn from our mistakes and be the success we know we can be? Or do we blame others and retreat from reality. I suspect that some counselling for both you and your child might also be helpful.
 
2. Your child is asked not to return?
 
Your child attends a boarding school on a year by year basis. You and the school sign a new contract every year in April or thereabouts. You will have already had a couple of meetings with the school before being informed that the school has decided that they do not wish to have your child back. Read the warning signs carefully and act accordingly. 
 
3. Your contract is not renewed?
 
I slipped this question and its answer in with boarding school teachers in mind. Your contract is most likely...
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What makes a boarding school special? I know some of you reading this will say "the cost". No, what I have in mind are the characteristics of a boarding school which set it apart from private day schools and public schools. Back to cost, however. Let's get that out of the way. Most boarding schools have incredibly generous financial aid programs. No deserving applicant will be turned away because his family cannot afford the tuition and fees. On the other hand if $60,000 or more is a tariff which you can handle using your own resources, then the cost is not an impediment.
 
It's an adventure.
 
I happen to think that The Association for Boarding Schools got it right when it describes boarding school as an adventure. You and I as parents know that it will be an adventure in learning. At least that was always our intent when our daughters went off to boarding school. It's the new friends your child will make which are part of the adventure. These are friends who will be with her 24/7 for weeks at a time during school. These are classmates she will bring home for a weekend. I still remember as though it were yesterday when my eldest daughter arrived home for an afternoon with one of her new friends. We lived about 10 miles from the school. Her classmate was from out of state. While their laundry was in the washer and dryer, the two girls were sharing...
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Every now and then the question does occur to me, as it should to you, exactly why is it that I think a certain school is one of the best schools. Inevitably I have to conclude that the best schools have all of the following characteristics. What's more they have them in abundance. Now, before you start thinking that I am only talking about older established schools, that ain't necessarily so. I am aware of a couple of newer schools which fit neatly into the category of best schools simply because they have all of the characteristics explained below. So let's take a look at what I think the traits of the best schools are.
 
Great leadership
 
The best schools have strong, dynamic, dedicated leaders. They are led by women and men who have a clear vision of what they plan to accomplish. They also have the experience to execute their plans in order to achieve that vision. The head of a best school is a superb fund-raiser. She is a capable administrator. She leads by example. She expects the best from everybody in her school community.
 

Solid support of the trustees
 
I know of several schools which could have been great. But they never made it because their fractious board of trustees kept getting in the way of progress. Change is never easy. But oftimes it seems that boards have a rather difficult time with change. That always surprise me because most board memberstend to come from business...
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Summer is often an ideal time for administrators in a private school to take stock of what worked and what didn't work in the year just finished. It makes sense for the marketing team to step back and spend a few hours reviewing their campaigns. Because marketing sometimes feels more like an art than a science, it is even more important to examine the tools which your school is using. This is what prompted me to ask what your marketing team is doing this summer. 
 
In particular the ideas and suggestions which I offer here are aimed at the small to medium-sized schools which have limited marketing resources. My long years of observing and writing about private schools have taught me that these small to medium-sized schools are hidden gems. Their message deserves to be heard and seen. Hopefully using social media effectively will make that a reality.
 
Boarding schools offer unique marketing challenges.
 
Whether yours is a small or large school, you have to get your message out. Getting your school's message out is made tougher by the mere fact that yours is a residential school. There aren't many boarding schools in the United States anyway and they tend to be misunderstood by most people especially the media. Ask about boarding school outside your circle of friends and acquaintances. The answers you will get are precisely the challenges which you as the marketing professional must overcome. "Those schools are just for rich kids." "That's where you send a kid who doesn't...
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Financing a boarding school education can be very confusing for many parents. You wonder whether you make too much to be eligible. Is there a specific time when you apply? Here are some facts most of us didn't know about private school financial aid.

1. You have to apply for it.
 
Applying for financial aid at most private schools is a separate process from applying for admission to the school. You also need to make sure that you apply early. This is particularly important if the school has no specific admissions deadline or rolling admissions. Each school has allocated a specific pool of funds for financial aid. Once it is spoken for there generally are no more funds in that academic year.
 
2. You may be eligible for free tuition if your family income is below a certain amount.
 
Exeter, Andover, Groton, St. Paul's and Deerfield, to name just a few schools, all have financial aid programs which offer a tuition free education to admitted students whose income is below a certain threshold. The threshold varies but is in the $60-75k range. Why are these highly competitive schools offering a free education to children from families with incomes below $75,000? Simply because they want to make their excellent educations available to a wider constituency. When tuition and expenses creep into the $50,000 range, it means that only a tiny percentage of American families can afford to attend those schools. Schooling has to be...
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Recent Articles
What Happens When.....
What Happens When.....
Published July 21, 2014
Here are some answers to the more common concerns we parents have when our child goes off to boarding school.
Several things make boarding school special. The learning, the community, the sports. All these and more.
What are the characteristics of the best schools? We explore what makes some schools the best schools.