Is Boarding School the Right Choice?

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Many parents often question if boarding school is the right option for their child. However, in order to get an accurate answer to that question it is important to understand the different types of boarding schools, the arguments in favor of boarding schools and the arguments against boarding schools.

Types of Boarding Schools

Boarding schools, like other private schools, have different characteristics and appeal to different families. Some common types of boarding schools include:

• Therapeutic boarding schools: while therapeutic boarding schools may prepare some students for college, college preparation is not the primary goal of these institutions. Therapeutic boarding schools exist to help students who are at risk or having trouble in traditional schools. Their focus is usually on helping students with emotional problems, substance abuse problems or significant learning problems.

• Catholic boarding schools: Catholic boarding schools, like other religious boarding schools, usually prepare students for higher education opportunities. However, they also emphasis religious theology, religious history, religious practice and spirituality.

• All girls or all boys boarding schools: typically single sex boarding schools are college preparatory schools that aim to position their students to get into the best college or university possible. They fundamentally believe that single sex education is an advantage for their students and provides a stronger education than coeducational boarding schools.

• Boot Camp: or military style boarding schools also prepare students for college. Additionally, they prepare students for the military by using military like discipline and structure in their schools. Often, physical education is emphasized and military customs and practices are observed.

• Pre-professional arts boarding schools: these schools help students train and study in a specific area of art. For example, some schools focus on music while others focus on the performing arts. Many graduates of these boarding schools go on to the best colleges in their field or go directly into the work force with adequate preparation.

Arguments in Favor of Boarding Schools

Boarding schools offer many benefits that public schools cannot offer due to limited funds, time and sometimes student interest. Typically, boarding schools offer challenging academic courses that are taught by high qualified instructors. Teachers are often expected to have an advanced degree in their fields. The academic and extracurricular activities tend to be diverse and encourage students to challenge themselves.

Some people feel that boarding schools offer students an advantage when they are applying to college. They believe that the strong academic programs combined with the high quality of college counseling put boarding school students at an advantage in the college admissions process.

Students can also benefit personally from attending boarding schools. They often learn to become more self reliant when they are living outside of their parents’ home. They also make friends with a diverse group of people from all over the country and sometimes the world.

Arguments Against Boarding Schools

While there are many benefits to attending an independent boarding school, the boarding school experience is not right for every student. Some students are simply not ready or not able to live apart from their families. These students may suffer anxiety or depression if they are forced to attend school away from home. Their academic grades may suffer and they may fail to bond with the other students in the program thereby making the boarding school experience unsuccessful.

Another argument against boarding schools is the high cost of attendance. In addition to the sometimes hefty tuition which most private schools require students to pay, boarding school students also have to pay room and board. For some families the cost may be out of reach.

However, there are scholarships and financial aid options available for motivated students. Some parents may find that boarding schools are simply too strict. These schools usually offer challenging academic programs and expect students to adhere to strict rules. If your child is not the rule following type then a boarding school experience may turn out to be an expensive disaster.

Independent boarding schools offer a different and viable alternative to traditional private schools and public schools. For some families the advantages to this type of education outweigh the disadvantages. Other families come to the opposite conclusion. Therefore, it is important to consider all of the facts and to visit to the school to see if it is a good fit before enrolling your child in boarding school.

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