The media loves to focus on things like elitism and how boarding schools are just for troubled kids. Let's look at the truth.
Boarding Schools Are just for rich kids.
False. Since about 2000 private schools have been very proactive in seeking out qualified applicants, regardless of their economic circumstances. Basically, if you qualify academically and have good recommendations, you can get in. Furthermore, most schools offer financial aid packages. These vary from school to school, as each school is a standalone corporate entity with its own policies and procedures regarding financial aid. Several schools now offer a tuition-free education where family incomes fall below a specific threshold, typically $75,000 to $100,000.
This video offers an overview of The Orme School.
Boarding Schools Don't let you have a life.
False. While it is true that boarding schools will supervise your whereabouts at all times, the idea that you won't have a life is simply false. In fact, there will be so much to do at boarding school that there will be times when you will wonder how you will be able to fit it all in. Sports two days a week and extracurricular activities of every conceivable kind provide a nice counterpoint to your academic studies. Field trips and social activities are also part of the package. Yes, there is time for yourself too so you can chill, listen to your music and chat with your friends. The rhythm of boarding school life provides a solid foundation for adult life. It encourages a balance between academics, sports, and extracurricular activities. It also fosters tolerance and appreciation of diversity, as your classmates don't all come from backgrounds and viewpoints like yours.
Boarding Schools Are full of troubled kids.
False. The only boarding schools which knowingly accept troubled kids are therapeutic schools. Those schools have specialized programs and highly skilled staff to handle troubled children who need help, structure, and counseling. Otherwise, most boarding schools have a familiar mix of aims, talents, abilities, and interests within their student populations.
Here is an overview of Chatham Hall.
Boarding Schools Have too much homework.
False. "Too much homework" is a subjective term, isn't it? If you attend a college preparatory school, you will take on some pretty demanding work. Research, tests, and reports all take time to complete. When it seems all a bit overwhelming, that's when you figure out how to stretch yourself. Doing more than you ever thought you could is all part of becoming an adult. That's what a boarding school is really all about anyway, i.e., easing that transition into adulthood. One of the reasons schools are able to cover a lot of academic material is that class sizes are small. Another factor is that most of the students admitted can do the academic work required. Lastly, private schools don't usually have discipline problems in the classroom setting. Discipline codes take care of that issue.
Boarding Schools Are tough to get into.
True. Most schools require that you visit the school and attend an interview. Then there are admissions testing and a lengthy application to be completed. Getting into boarding school certainly is not like registering at most public schools. A handful of schools have many more applicants than they have places. These selective schools will be really tough to get into.
Boarding Schools Won't give you financial aid if you own property.
False. The financial aid programs at most boarding schools take into account a whole host of factors including property owned, savings, and so on. Most schools offer some kind of financial aid for families with incomes up to $150,000. Several boarding schools offer a completely free education if your family income is below $75,000. The financial aid programs vary from school to school. Always complete the financial aid application when you apply to boarding school.
Boarding Schools Have chapel all the time.
False. Unless you are attending a seminary or yeshiva you will find that chapel is a euphemism for a school assembly. The emphasis will be on some broad theme or speaker. You will probably sing a school song or two. When you visit the school, ask about the religious aspect. If it is too much for you, then look elsewhere and find a school with just the right amount of religious activity for your requirements.
Boarding Schools Make you do sports.
True. Sports are compulsory in boarding schools. But the exciting thing is that it is all part of a balanced program consisting of the academics, the sports, and the extracurricular activities. Nobody will force you to play field hockey at the varsity level, but you will learn how to handle a stick. If you are crazy about crew, you will be able to indulge your passion.
These are a few of the more common myths about boarding schools. As you begin to evaluate schools on your shortlist, ask questions. Ask lots of questions.
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