Start anywhere west of the Mississippi, from Manitoba down to Texas; head west across the Great Plains and even past California and British Columbia all the way to Hawaii. On this voyage, you will find the many boarding schools represented by the Western Boarding Schools Association. These boarding schools can rival anything found in the East and, quite often, we offer more! For example, did you know that Hawaii Prep has 80% of the world’s ecosystems and a LEED Platinum Energy Lab? Or that one can safely predict that many of the ice hockey medalists at the Sochi Olympic Games will have attended high school at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Minnesota? Or that you can simultaneously watch condors fly overhead while on your way to surfing each day at Cate School in Carpentaria, California? Or that at my school, Brentwood College School, we can integrate marine biology and oceanography into our curriculum because we are situated directly on the Pacific Ocean?
The environment a teacher establishes in the classroom is a major contributor to how effectively students learn. Traditional classroom environments, in which all children are expected to sit quietly while following along with the teacher, presume that all children learn in the same way. Those who have trouble with the format may fall behind despite their capacity to learn. Additionally, this isn’t necessarily a structured environment, nor is it necessarily an engaging one that will foster a passion for learning.
Boarding schools must never forget that they are businesses. Private schools must continually attract new students to stay in business. Public schools have a steady supply of students. That supply is more or less guaranteed by the fact that public schools must take every child living within their jurisdiction. Private schools do not have a built-in supply of new students. They have to go out and find those students the old-fashioned way, by selling the school and its attributes to every family they can.
In several ways, boarding schools are a tougher product to sell than private day schools. As much as a boarding school makes great sense regarding the complete package it offers, many parents find it difficult to send their children off to a residential school in 9th or 10th grade. Parents may be aware of a couple of boarding schools which family and friends attended. On the other hand, most parents do not know much about individual boarding school programs.
I have written this article with boarding schools which do not have a full-time marketing department in mind. These schools have talented admissions and administrative staff who have to wear many hats, often all at once. So, I hope that my suggestions and advice will help them stay on brand. You see, a boarding school has to market its story and make its case to a customer base which consists of families with children in 6th through 9th grades. Reaching these families is the key to full enrollment
I am writing this short article with your son or daughter in mind. Send them the link, print it out and leave it out where they might just find it and maybe even read it. I have drawn heavily on my own children's comments and opinions about going off to boarding school.
To you who are thinking about boarding school
You may think it is a waste of time even thinking about going away to boarding school. Your parents seem to like the idea. But you are not so sure. I suggest that you start with these reasons why boarding school may be a more viable option than you ever thought it could be.
There is a boarding school for you.
Boarding schools are not like other schools. You get to pick and choose the school you want to attend. Yes, you'll have to make new friends. They will be brand new friends who will accept you just as you are. Right now. You see, boarding schools don't have cliques like you will find in public school. You don't have to worry about being accepted socially. Once the school admits you, you are accepted socially. That's just the way a boarding school community works. Tolerance and diversity rule. Everybody pretty much dresses the same in boarding school, so nobody is going to tease you about what you are wearing. Bullying? Bullying will get you in major trouble, probably even expelled. This video from The Gow School gives you an