The Truth About Boarding School

These are the top 5 boarding school myths.



Boarding schools today are poles apart from their stereotypical Hollywood images, as havens for children of privilege or refuges for troubled teens. Research proves that contemporary boarding schools serve a diverse body of motivated students who study and live in supportive, inclusive academic communities where they learn about independence and responsibility – values that help them achieve success at higher rates than private day and public school students – in the classroom and beyond.

Interviews with current boarding school students reveal what they learn once enrolled, and how boarders spend their time. Interviews with boarding school alumni across generations reveal the long-term, life-changing effects of attending school in a residential setting, and how the lessons and values learned at boarding school influence and shape college experiences and professional success.

Myth #1: Boarding schools are for kids who get into trouble and their parents don’t know how to handle them.

That’s a common misperception about boarding schools. And maybe that used to be partly true a very long time ago. Today, boarding schools are known for strong academics, the ability to play a different sport every season, and the opportunity to try new things that you may not normally get to try. And because you live where you learn, you build really close friendships too.

Myth #2: Boarding schools are really like Hogwarts or Zoey 101.

Spoiler alert: Boarding schools are nothing like you see on TV (and that’s a good thing). While the campuses may be just as beautiful, there’s no wizarding curricula or throngs of contemptuous, gossipy teens. Instead, boarding school is like one big family. You’ll have the opportunity to take on leadership roles, try new things, live with your best friends and find out what you’re passionate about.

Myth #3: Boarding schools are just for jocks.

Yes. While most boarding schools do require all students to be involved on one team per school session, the good news is that you can try a lot of different sports beyond just the typical ones most schools offer. Dance counts as an athletic option at boarding school too. And, more good news is that 35 percent of current boarding school students spend between seven and 14 hours per week on non-athletic extracurricular activities like the arts, student government, and clubs. There’s really something for everyone.

Myth #4: If I went away to boarding schools, my parents would probably think I didn’t want to live with them. 

Happy, loving families that have strong connections make great boarding school families. And believe it or not, your connections to your family will probably grow even stronger when you’re living away from them. Like sleep-away camps in the summer, after the first day or two, you start to get involved, and that homesickness begins to fade. You’ll get to see your parents for events at the school, and of course you go home on breaks and vacations. About 70 percent of boarding school students say that boarding school has helped them develop self-discipline, maturity, independence and the ability to think critically. All things that help prepare you for college, and for life.

Myth #5: Kids who go to boarding school all look and act and dress alike. They're all the same.

Boarding school is pretty unique in that kids from many different states and countries choose a school for a particular reason. That means most boarding schools have kids who have grown up somewhere in the US or Canada, but could also have kids who have grown up in Europe, Asia or the Middle East. You’ll make lifelong friendships in boarding school because you share so much – classes, sports, a dormitory and meals. If you’re looking for a place to make friends from all corners of the globe, boarding school could be for you.


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