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Why are you sending your kids to boarding school?

watertesterwatertester Posts: 534Registered User Member
edited March 2009 in Prep School Admissions
I talked to the admission director of a local day school. When the boarding school issue came up, he said that parents would send their children to boarding schools mainly because there are no/few quality public or independent day schools close to where they live. I know how he could be biased, but is that one factor you consider when you decide to send your kids to boarding school?
Post edited by watertester on
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Replies to: Why are you sending your kids to boarding school?

  • Scotland45Scotland45 Posts: 177Registered User Junior Member
    For our family that is definitely one of the reasons. We live in a very small town in Wisconsin. My S has about 40 kids in his freshman class. He has probably been in school with half of them since kindergarten. While this can be wonderful it can also be hard as kids change and mature at different levels.

    He started the BS search because he wants more friends, better academics, more EC and just more opportunities.
  • Swiss ChardSwiss Chard Posts: 34Registered User Junior Member
    I have two reasons.

    I went to boarding school myself. Not only did I finally find a niche, a group of friends, a place where I felt I belonged...but I also was interested academically for the first time. I loved living at school, living with my friends, feeling that sense of community. I loved the rural setting, the wide open spaces. I felt more grown up, therefore I acted more responsibly. I loved the freedom.

    Another reason that I hadn't thought of until only recently: If I continue to send my daughter to the fairly good (but not supergreat) local prep school with a miniscule endowment and tired financial aid, we will have to pay more than sending her to a finer institution with a higher endowment and grander financial aid. This makes no sense, but I'm fairly certain that will be the case.

    I guess I have three reasons. When my daughter went to a summer program for a month, she came back eternally thankful for our home, my cooking, and our lives in general. Though she loved it, had a great time, she became appreciative of things she had taken for granted here. And I loved her appreciation. I believe it might be the case, might, that allowing her to go elsewhere to study for 9 months of the year, will make our summers and holidays together a time of real connection, rather than a time of petty complaints. Anyone else experience that?
  • watertesterwatertester Posts: 534Registered User Member
    My S wen to a 3 week summer program this year. We certainly hoped he'd show some more appreciation of our "nagging", well he didn't quite (sigh) but he did suprise us a bit by telling us how much he liked it and how he "had to pay attention in the class for the first time". However in the middle of the process as we are now, I am still not sure if that's enough reason to send him to a boarding school.
  • siliconvalleymomsiliconvalleymom Posts: 3,681Registered User Senior Member
    Some kids go because they love a sport that is not available to them in a local day school. In particular, there are limited opportunities on the West Coast for girls to play field hockey, lacrosse or ice hockey, but there are many programs available at East Coast boarding schools.
  • PhotoOpPhotoOp Posts: 1,106Registered User Senior Member
    I sent mine for the academics. Definitely.
  • watertesterwatertester Posts: 534Registered User Member
    Would like to hear more people talking about why they send kids to boarding schools, whether the reasons are related to the availability of good day schools close by or not.
  • bibdadbibdad Posts: 42Registered User Junior Member
    I am not SENDING child to boarding school; I am giving her up to it,..allowing her to find the academic, athletic and social challenges that we lack in our town. When the child asks for more, you find a way to get it. The experience has been invaluable. She is in her prep year at Hotchkiss and calls almost EVERY night,..excited, challenged and SO GREATFUL for finding a place where she feels she belongs.
  • skibum4skibum4 Posts: 278Registered User Junior Member
    Good point bibdad! Watertester, to answer your question, if there had been a day school in our area of the calibre of BSs discussed here, he definitely would have stayed local. The point was definitely not to have him live away. Locally, there are good day schools, but not GREAT day schools. An opportunity to have a challenging academic curriculum (with lots of choices), great faculty, and fellow students who all want to learn was key in decision to look at BSs. Locally for us, nothing compared, and in the end, S begged us to let him go, and we also knew that he would take full advantage of the academic and extracurricular opportunities available to him. But it wasn't an easy decision -- my husband was opposed until after the revisits.
  • Burb ParentBurb Parent Posts: 2,100Registered User Senior Member
    I've heard that over the last few decades there has been an increased interest in day schools over boarding schools. However, that was not our case. Here is a discussion on it with part of an interesting WSJ article http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/prep-school-admissions/334557-boarding-schools-long-term-decline.html?highlight=boarding+schools+decline

    We have a great public school that makes the Newsweek survey 100-150. We have some independent options within a 25 mile commute. Whenever I visited the public school, all the people there ever wanted to talk about was our state tests and requirements, something independent schools do not need to consider. Also, the class sizes are not conducive to lengthy discussion. While the independent schools nearby are wonderful, the commuting time is discouraging. Friends could be on the other side of the 25 miles commute, thus 50 miles away. Because day schools attract people from a number of towns, you don't have the community that you have at a boarding school or a public school.

    What made boarding so attractive was the community, and the opportunity to be with other students 24/7. It's nice that so many teachers live on campus at my son's school, so ties can develop. During high school, the peer group becomes very important, and in many ways more important than family. It's nice to have a peer group 24/7. It's also nice not to be faced with a long commute after a day of academics and athletics.

    More than academics, it's a home away from home -- a safe giant step towards independence. This is something that the local public school and surrounding independent schools could not provide.
  • 4yorkshiremen4yorkshiremen Posts: 602Registered User Member
    We wanted boarding school for the boarding - the community, all the activities under one roof, lifetime connections, caring faculty, freedom of movement for our teen, and excellent academics. We did not consider the private schools in our area; for us in came down to public school vs boarding school exactly because of the fabulous financial aid opportunities. We insisted that she choose schools near enough to us that she never seemed like she was "away."

    The thing that set the search in motion was definitely improving the academics available to my daughter.
  • ThacherParentThacherParent Posts: 619Registered User Member
    Our decision had nothing to do with the quality of the local schools in the western suburbs of Philadelphia; they are outstanding. Looking back on the “whys” of our boarding decision some five years ago, the conclusion I draw is that some percentage of kids, my son included, have a mix of independence, curiosity and drive that belong in an older body, not a middle-schooler’s. Kids wired that way are drawn to and thrive in a boarding school environment; my wife and I had very little to do with pushing that process or making the match (except for approval and payment).

    Every parent, especially on this board, wants nothing more than to see his or her child thrive during those crucial high school, habit-forming, friend-making years. We may have different definitions of what that looks like, but I’d be surprised if any parent limited the definition to academic value, or the boarding experience, or the athletic and cultural opportunities, or any one thing.

    If you’re willing to let your child go away to school, knowing how much you’ll miss him or her every single day, if you’re willing to make a huge financial sacrifice, then your greatest hope, and the reason for choosing boarding school, is that four years later, your child will have thrived best in that environment across all measures, not just have achieved excellence in one.
  • westcoast_westcoast_ Posts: 773Registered User Member
    "so she can get into a good college."

    for me it's a bit less shallow than that. but i do admire my parents for coming up with a mutual consensus for "i should go to boarding school" to some extent.

    what a slow day for prep threads.
  • anothermom2anothermom2 Posts: 1,626Registered User Senior Member
    I have to say that we did not choose as a family a boarding experience. My D was not for it, and my H also thought no. We do have excellent private day schools available, and that is very important. Fortunately, we have been able to enroll our D in one of them. I think that some things are more difficult. We do have to commute for some activities with friends. There are less sports on campus, and some athletes travel to other facilities after school for practice. On the other hand, we are informed on a daily basis of the goings on academically and in extracurriculars. This works best for our family.

    If my D had wanted to attend BS, I would have let her go. I personally think that I would have benefitted as a HS student from such an environment, but it is not for everyone. Look to your own child and family for an answer if you have other good options.
  • newyorker22newyorker22 Posts: 269Registered User Junior Member
    I'm going to chime in here even though I'm not a boarding school parent (yet), but I work with kids so I hear a lot of reasons

    I think Swiss Chard makes a great point about how the kids learn to appreciate their parents and their home after being away. I hear that all the time! I hear how parents and kids get all excited for breaks, have long dinners with interesting conversations that they didn't have before---and they sometimes take their student to work with them or do other things that they normally wouldn't in a school with fewer vacation days.

    I also agree with Burb parent about how day schools draw from such a large region that it can be difficult for friendships. I went to a day school which was 20 minutes away, but many of my friends lived 30 minutes in the other direction, and my poor parents spent a lot of time driving me all over the state. As a result, we often weren't able to see friends as often as we wanted on the weekends and summer. That has stuck in my mind over the years and I don't think I'l consider a day school for that reason. My old high school has recently added bus service to towns that are 50 miles away! So the problem has gotten even worse in day schools.
  • watertesterwatertester Posts: 534Registered User Member
    Thanks for all your thoughtful and insightful responses! That's why I love this forum - it's one of the best out there! As a parent new to the "boarding school scene", I am benefiting tremendously from your opinions and advice.

    I was reading another thread in this forum. Someone mentioned that for great college placement purpose boarding school (or top tier boarding school) may not be the best option. You child may very likely be on the top of his/her class in a public or a smaller day school and ends up going to a TOP TIER college in 4 years, but in a top tier boarding school it would be much harder where he is among a most talented and hardworking group of students. and let's face it nowadays even the best boarding school can't send more than 30% of its students to the ivies. I know this question has been answered by many in different ways. Many people share the view that boarding school is a "total experience" and not just for going to the best (or most well-known) colleges, but we also have to admit going to a great college is a major goal for every student and parent. So does the perception described above concern you in any way?
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