School Life

For boarding school students, and many teachers, the campus is home. Explore dormitory living, get expert advice on learning and living away from home and learn more about what can be done to help your child transition to and succeed in boarding school. Find resources for parents, teachers and students. We’ll cover sustainability, boarding school jargon, and corporal punishment. Read first-hand accounts from parents of boarding school students, find graduation gift ideas, and learn why small classes are effective.
View the most popular articles in School Life:
Updated   July 26, 2017
Parent Perspective: Words of Wisdom for the Reluctant Parent
Learn about an initially reluctant parent's perspective on boarding school.
By Shari Bunks Geller, parent of Blair Academy alumni
 
I survey my son's room. High school graduation is just two weeks away.  College is no longer on the horizon, but our next step forward. I am looking to see what he will need to take with him and what he will leave behind.  Looking around his room I am keenly aware of how our worlds have expanded more than we could have imagined just four years ago when we applied Michael to high school. Boarding school was consciously not on our radar when we began our high school search.
 
At the start of his eighth grade year our son announced that would he like to apply to boarding school.  My husband and I had a serious conversation about boarding school as an option.  We both attended good public schools growing up.  We had decided against our public high school as an option for our four children and were committed to sending them to an independent day school.  While neither my husband nor I came from families with a boarding school culture, we had many friends whose children attended boarding schools across the country.  We had been frequently cautioned that once a child visits a boarding school all day schools will pale in comparison. The facilities, the campus and the notion of a different level of independence are very alluring to a fourteen year old.  Although our conversation was serious, we quickly agreed that we would not consider boarding school.
 
We
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Updated   November 24, 2017 |
Gifts for the Boarding School Graduate
May is the month for private school graduations. Boarding school graduation is an especially poignant occasion. Why not mark it with a special gift?
Chances are that if you went off to boarding school for three or four years, May is a very special month. AP exams are over. IB work is complete. You probably have your college acceptances in hand. Finally you can focus on graduation and leaving the school which has been your home away from home for these past several years.

You will most certainly receive graduation gifts to mark this very special occasion. With that in mind here are some suggestions which you might want to email to that favorite aunt or uncle. You know that mother and father will give you something special to commemorate your achievements. So I will leave the pens, watches and pendants off this list.

An iPad
This has to be the coolest gift going in 2010. Sleek. Fun. It's just so 2010. Tablets and netbooks just don't offer the same appeal. It's like Bang and Olufsen products. Beautiful, crisp, clean and elegant designs.

Bang & Olufsen BeoTime Aluminum Alarm Clock
Speaking of Bang & Olufsen, their alarm clock is a gift which you will keep forever. It's so unusual yet sublimely functional.

A Honda Metropolitan
Honda built a classic scooter a few years ago. It's been gently refined over the years and remains the perfect big city local transportation medium. It also works for large suburban campuses. Leave the car at home. Think green. Reduce your carbon footprint.

An A&F
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Updated   May 25, 2017 |
What Is Being Taught?
You need to know what is being taught before you decide which boarding school is best for you.
One of the most important considerations in choosing a boarding school for your son or daughter is what goes on in the classroom and in the larger school community. In other words, what are they teaching and how are they teaching it?

You must never assume that, just because a school enjoys a solid reputation, has been there forever and looks wonderful on the surface, it will provide the kind of teaching you want and expect for your child. Doing your due diligence with respect to curriculum and how it is taught has to be one of the most important parts of your school evaluation process.

Here's how to proceed.
  • Observe
  • Question
  • Research
Observe
 
When you visit the school for your admissions interview, try to do so while school is in session. Summer visits are often more convenient for all of us, but you won't be able to observe any classes. Summer sessions do not usually offer a typical classroom experience. So you cannot judge the teaching or what is being taught by what you see during the summer. The teaching staff is frequently not the same as the faculty who teach during the year. Because it is summer, the whole atmosphere is much more relaxed.
 
When you visit the school and observe a class, is the class size small? Do students interact with the teacher and each other? Are they students learning how to think analytically? Are they using texts? Laptops? Are they sitting around a table in the Harkness-style classroom? Does
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Updated   February 17, 2016 |
What If Things Go Wrong?
Boarding schools have a reputation for being tough academically and from a discipline point of view. But that's not all they are.

You are thinking about boarding school. But you've heard that the work is tough. Furthermore, they will expel you in a heartbeat if you are caught doing anything seriously wrong. Is this true? Is that the way boarding schools actually work? Let's look at the facts.

The academic work is difficult.

There's no escaping the truth about academics in private school. Academics are the reason a private school exists in the first place. The academic standards are high. There is a lot of homework. There are a lot of subjects and a lot of ground to cover in every class. Sometimes the lessons are hard to understand. Just remember whenever you feel discouraged that you were admitted to the school because it felt you could do the academic work involved. The school based its decision on your academic transcripts and your admissions test scores.

The difference between taking on challenging work in a boarding school versus a public school simply is that nobody in the boarding school is going to let you sink. Why? Well, for one, the classes are small. For example, your teacher will know the instant that you are having problems grasping a math concept. You will not be humiliated in front of your peers. If you don't believe me, read the codes of conduct for any boarding school and see just how seriously they take community spirit and concern for all members of the school community. Teaching their students to be tolerant and to respect others is part

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Updated   June 06, 2016 |
Dr. Hank Nuwer on Hazing
We asked Dr. Hank Nuwer,a nationally recognized authority on the subject of hazing, to weigh in with his views.
We parents always worry about what goes on when we are not around to supervise our children. We all know that getting into mischief is part of growing up. Inevitably, it is going to happen. But we also want to know that there are well-known limits and accepted standards of behavior especially when we send our children off to boarding school. With that premise in mind, you and I are going to take a look at an issue which was much more commonplace years ago than it is now. The following video outlines what hazing involves.
Hazing is a practice which used to be rampant in schools and organizations just about everywhere. It seemed to be part of our fraternal and educational culture. Fortunately, in these enlightened times in which blogging and instant messaging make it extremely difficult to keep bad news out of the public eye, hazing has all but disappeared in boarding schools. And that is a positive turn of events.
 
We asked Dr. Hank Nuwer, a nationally recognized authority on hazing, to weigh in on the subject. As Dr. Nuwer makes clear, boarding schools are indeed virtually free of hazing. That's because boarding schools insist on a high standard of supervision and community life designed to protect their students from any kind of harm. Most schools have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to hazing. It is one more reason why boarding schools are safe schools. They take
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School Life

For Parents

This section covers issues and concerns for parents of boarding school students. Explore corporal punishment, get expert advice on preventing hazing, and read first-hand accounts from parents. Learn what to do if things go wrong, see what boarding school students do in the summer, and get words of wisdom from a reluctant parent.

For Students

Here you’ll gain knowledge about student life at boarding school. User our glossary of terms to learn boarding school jargon, discover the importance of a partnership between school, parent and child, and find great gift ideas for the boarding school graduate.

For Teachers

The articles in this section are related to teaching at a boarding school. Learn more about what is being taught, why small class sizes work, and the impact of sustainability on boarding schools. You’ll find a list of eBooks about boarding schools, be able to view pictures of boarding school life, and explore course offerings.

For Administrators

Advice and strategies for running your school