10 Myths About Boarding School Debunked

Myth Vs. Fact

More engaged. More empowered. More than ready to take on the world. Here’s the truth about boarding school.

Where and how your child learns can greatly impact their chances for success. A boarding school education can be a superior alternative when considering schools. Here, we’ve compiled the most common misperceptions about boarding school from parents. Browse through them to learn the truth and discover more about boarding school.

MYTH: Boarding schools are very rigid and formal, and my son/daughter will have to wear a uniform every day.

FACT: Each school has a unique campus look and feel, and level of formality. Not all schools require uniforms. Some schools maintain a level of formality because it’s a special tradition on campus. For instance, dining together for “family style” meals, where students serve their table of peers and faculty, just like they would at home. Visiting several school campuses will be critically important to get a glimpse of what campus life would look like and feel like for you and your child.

MYTH: Parents only send their kids to school because they have an unhappy home, or are punishing them.

FACT: Boarding school presents an alternative learning environment where happy, well-adjusted kids thrive. A loving home life is a wonderful springboard to boarding school, and allows each student to grow and learn in a new environment, becoming more independent and confident. Kids who are looking for more challenges academically, more diverse friends and more opportunities to try new sports or activities see boarding school as the opportunity of a lifetime.

MYTH: My child will get into an Ivy League university if they attend boarding school.

FACT: No school – private or otherwise – can guarantee that. While many boarding school graduates do attend Ivy League schools and other prestigious schools, there are no promises for Ivy League acceptance. What we can guarantee is that the character, independence and critical thinking skills that a boarding school education instills allow students to adjust more quickly and seamlessly to university life.

MYTH: Without parental supervision, boarding school students are more likely to get involved in drinking and drugs than kids who live at home.

FACT: Not according to research. In fact, 95 percent of boarding school students say that their social lives do not revolve around drugs and alcohol, compared to 82 percent of private day and public school students. Along with having ethics standards and codes of honor, your child will be surrounded by like-minded peers who care about education and being the best student/person they can be.

MYTH: There is little to no free time each day for students to relax and just hang out with their friends at boarding school.

FACT: Each school is unique, and while most weekdays are fairly structured, there is typically an hour or two of free time each evening. Some schools have Saturday morning classes. But there are many opportunities and events in dorms and classes as well for students to just be teenagers and relax among friends.

MYTH: Boarding schools that have “chapel” are forcing students to adopt a faith.

FACT: At most boarding schools, there are students from all over the world, and from many faiths. Time during chapel is a tradition at most boarding schools, but it is not necessarily religious in nature. Chapel is a class period during which faculty and students gather to talk about the week ahead, listen to guest speakers, present talks to the group, or be uplifted by programming that is intended to educate and inspire.

MYTH: Parents of boarding school students can’t be involved because they’re so far away.

FACT: Not true. Each school has different programs for parental involvement and interaction, but all schools recognize the critical role that parents play in their child’s development during their school years. There are typically many opportunities to visit campus and catch up with your child. While some schools do have policies against cell phone and social media usage, we find that those students quickly adapt to a new schedule full of interesting activities and rarely miss their devices.

MYTH: In our 21st-century world of technology, modern classrooms and real-world learning, boarding schools can’t provide anything that the local high school can’t.

FACT: Along with having all-day access to the latest technology, boarding school students receive more access to their teachers (who spend every day with your child, and often represent their dorm family) and are afforded more hands-on, real-world learning opportunities, like mission trips abroad to provide water to communities, composing the score for the school musical, or chopping wood to heat living quarters.

MYTH: Boarding school students have no one advocating for them, or helping them resolve issues when they are so far away from their parents.

FACT: Actually, most schools have a full-time school counselor or psychologist on campus to meet the needs of all students on a confidential basis. Additionally, schools offer a wide network of other resources ranging from faculty leadership, student advisers, dorm parent, peer-led honor councils and off-site counselors who are willing and able to help a student in need, anytime, regardless of topic.

MYTH: Boarding school is one big party that doesn’t really prepare kids for the future.

FACT: Our research shows that boarding school alumni succeed at a higher rate than their public- or private-school peers. In addition, the resourcefulness and self-confidence that boarding school students build is directly tied to their ability to learn independent living skills and lead happier, more productive lives.