If you are just beginning to explore boarding schools, this article will give the view from 10,000'. I suggest that you scan the article quickly, and then drill down in anything which interests you. Our site has a wealth of information to guide your search process. And, if you don't find the answers you want, you probably will be able to find them on our sister site, Private School Review. Finally, if you have more questions, tweet me. I will be happy to help.
Boarding schools range in size from rather small (100 students) to rather large (1200 students). Most boarding school populations are somewhere in the middle with 300-400 students. Compare these numbers to most public schools and you will begin to see why size is so important in my opinion. I wanted my daughters to be visible when they went to boarding school. When the school community is a manageable size, teachers and administrative staff get to know their students quickly. More importantly, they will usually know what their young charges are up to. Boarding schools take their role as your substitute very seriously. The legal term is in loco parentis. Your child will not be invisible or able to hide when she attends boarding school.
Chatham Hall is an example of a small school. Everybody knows everybody in a school like this one.
How many boarding schools are there? Approximately 300 boarding schools in the U.S.
By now, after two decades into the 21st century, it is obvious even to the most jaded, cynical people out there that we have to rethink how we live and function on this planet which we call Earth. We are discovering that Earth's resources are finite. We are finally realizing that we must conserve energy. We are rethinking the cost of goods and services regarding their carbon footprint. Sustainability is no longer a theory. It is a concept which is being put into daily practice.
That's why it is very encouraging to see so many private schools making progress towards developing sustainable schools. For schools, sustainability involves not just the wise use of energy and foodstuffs, but it also the prudent management of a school's fiscal resources and more. The National Association of Independent Schools has published an excellent white paper entitled Sustainability: Creating 21st Century Sustainable Schools. Let's look at the five areas of sustainability which this document puts forth. The NAIS calls these 'dimensions' which is an apt description. 'Area' implies a confined space. 'Dimension' speaks to the vastness of the challenge and the scope of the solution.
Simply put, financial sustainability is all about drawing a line and setting responsible limits. It doesn't matter whether you have $100,000 in the bank or $900 million in your savings account. Schools need to use all the expertise and tools available to them to control expenses and maximize the use of every dollar of income available to them. This
We went our eldest daughter off to boarding school in 10th grade. That was back in the 80s. While the times were most certainly different from the 21st century, our motivation for making such a major decision would be the same today as it was back then. Let me tell the story which I hope will give you the courage to send your daughter (or son, for that matter) off to boarding school. It's well worth it.
We were busy parents with careers and two children. The girls were five years apart. One in junior high. The other in elementary school. We lived in a little town in northwestern Connecticut. You had to drive ten miles to get to anything. Literally. While the regional high school was doing a good job, it was limited in the number of academic courses and extras which it could provide our daughter. Not only that, she had to be driven everywhere to participate in sports or extracurricular activities. With those factors looming large, we sat down one day with her and asked: "What do you think about going off to boarding school?" There was a rather enthusiastic acceptance of the idea. Probably because she realized that she would no longer be trapped in her circumstances. It would be a chance to see something different. To experience something new.
Our Boarding School Exploration Process
Looking back, I cannot honestly call it a school search process. There was no Internet via which to
Is boarding school right for your child? Honestly, it probably is. But you will never know until you explore the idea thoroughly. I advise you to tune out the negative things you read about boarding schools. After all, the media tends to focus on sensational stories which hardly show boarding schools as they really are. Go see for yourself. A quick call or an email is all it takes to make an appointment for a visit. The other consideration which keeps many parents from even considering a boarding school education is the cost. Schools have very generous financial aid programs. The admissions staff at any boarding school will be only too happy to explain how financial aid works.
Now that we have those considerations out of the way, answer these questions to help you make that important decision about sending your child off to a residential school.
1. Do you want to stretch your child?
If you are content with the status quo, then boarding school is probably not a good idea. Why? Because by going to boarding school your child will be embarking on an incredible adventure. She will be exposed to all kinds of new ideas and different points of view. She will be able to select academic courses which will enrich and challenge her. She will be in small classes where she cannot hide in the corner. Her opinion and ideas will matter. Her strengths will be expanded. Her weaknesses will be addressed
Your husband has just called to say that he got the promotion. The increase in responsibilities and the money make the move exciting. But it's July. And you will be relocating across the country. What are you going to do about the children's schooling? They have just finished 8th and 10th grade in the local public schools which happen to be in a really fine disctrict. It's too late to apply to a private school, isn't it?
This scenario gets played out in thousands of households all over the globe. If your spouse works for a multi-national firm, chances are that he will have to spend some time abroad. It's also pretty certain that your children will have to move in the middle of an academic year. Business never seems to pay heed to school calendars. Business is business and has a mind of its own.
So, is it too late to get your children into a private school? Absolutely not. And, frankly, if you have any idea that future moves may be in the offing, you need to consider seriously settling your children into boarding school. The stability of boarding school will help insulate your children from the stress and strain of moving.
Admissions After the Deadlines
Truthfully you will probably not be able to get your children into one of the very selective, highly competitive boarding schools UNLESS you or your spouse went to one of those schools. It would certainly be a long