Choosing the right high school for you can be an overwhelming process, since there are so many options available! Beyond standard public and private schools, some of you may be considering boarding school. This option is not discussed as often. As a boarding school graduate, I have shared my own high school experience and some boarding school pros & cons. Hopefully this will help you make an informed decision!
As an international student from China, I attended high school at a boarding school called MacDuffie in Granby, Massachusetts. I had previously attended a public middle school in New York City for half a year, when I first came to the U.S. with my mother who was a visiting scholar at Columbia University. After my mother left, I had to attend either a boarding school or a private school (stay with a homestay family) in order to further my education in the U.S. I ended up choosing MacDuffie and had a great experience, achieving both academic and personal growth.
Boarding School Pros
Firstly, I believe that a boarding school has all the benefits that a private high school offers: small classes, diverse extracurricular activities, and a tight-knit community. We are very close to our peers, residential assistants, and faculty members. So, if you are someone who loves being in a tight community, it might be a good fit for you!
Also, living away from parents at a young age came with its unique challenges. Oftentimes I felt homesick and missed my family. I had to learn how to take care of myself at a younger age, making financial decisions and becoming more responsible (since my parents weren’t around to hold my hand).
Students in this situation develop strong practical and interpersonal skills such as independence and effective communication. With these skills, I felt like I was able to transition to my freshman year of college much more smoothly than my peers who attended “regular” high schools.
Boarding School Cons
The first and biggest drawback of a boarding school is probably its high cost. Many have annual tuitions of around $50,000 to $65,000, almost as expensive as that of a private college. Without scholarship or financial aid, that tuition could be a huge expense for a student’s family.
If you are very close to your family, boarding school may be hard since you may see them so infrequently (unless they live nearby). Many boarding students go home and reunite with their families only over holiday breaks. Moreover, many boarding schools, like mine, are located in small towns, with very few off-campus activities for students to do. Therefore, if a student would like to have some fun outside of school’s extracurricular activities, the options are rather limited.
Last, boarding schools often have a lot of strict rules to ensure student’s academic efficiency and personal safety. The rules include mandatory study hours and curfew at night, which lead to less freedom than many students would have if they lived at home.
Something for you to remember: Although your high school environment is conducive in shaping you, you can grow significantly anywhere with the right mindset and consistent effort!
After reading my insights about boarding school, do you think boarding school is the right fit for you? Feel free to ask any questions or book a consult to chat!