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Advantages of day vs 5 day boarding vs 7 day boarding

vwlizardvwlizard 319 replies33 threads Member
Due to finances, we are considering looking at day and 5 day boarding options. When I look at the increased costs, it comes out to about $100/day. I can't justify that $ to avoid a commute, but of course, there are additional benefits that I"m trying to weigh. What are the academic advantages of boarding (study halls, teacher access, etc)? DS definitely needs some support. We would be utilizing academic support, but I'm wondering if the additional time with teachers would cut down on the amount he needs.
One of the schools we are considering has a new 5 day boarding program. Should this be a concern? They have traditionally been a 7 day boarding program with a 70% boarder/30% day student split. The other school has a very established 5 day boarder program.
We live 25 minutes from the school with an established program. My son could easily get to campus for social events over the weekend if he wanted to. The other school is 50 minutes away but has stated that kids could stay on campus any time they want to.
Any reason to avoid a 5 day program if you can just attend as a day student?

Thanks for any input.
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Replies to: Advantages of day vs 5 day boarding vs 7 day boarding

  • MA2012MA2012 1237 replies1 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    I would look at the numbers at each school. How many are day/5 day boarder and 7 day boarders at each school?
    edited June 2018
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5964 replies10 threads Senior Member
    As I read this, a lot of it was relatable as we struggled with a number of these issues. And as with most things, not only is the answer pretty personal, there is a lot of “it depends”. First of all, there are schools that have a large percentage of boarders in a 7-day boarding program AND most of them go home for the weekend. There are also schools that are closer to half boarding and half day, yet most boarders stick around for the weekends. And if the latter is a larger school, you might find that in spite of the percentage of boarders in the whole population, there is a more vibrant weekend culture there than at the school where a majority of students are 7-day boarders who clear out. So I think that the first thing that you may want to dig into is what the culture is at these schools to get a sense of what is being given up by not being a “full” 7-day boarder and to look at absolute numbers as well as percentages.

    The next thing that you REALLY need to think through is the commute. A 50 minute commute each way translates into about 4 hours in the car for you every day and 2 hours for your kid. If you work near school and are going that way anyway, that might take some of the sting out of it, but if this is a new driving routine for you, let me just say -- wow, does it get old fast! Add in a little traffic or construction or some winter weather (and when your students and faculty live on campus, snow days can be a rare thing!), and you’re starting to work your way through the rings of hell… Sure, people do it, but it takes its toll. Nobody will want to go back for weekend events (although you’ll have to) and certainly not on a spontaneous basis. (As the driver, you can try to make that less painful by joining a gym near school, finding a Starbucks where you can work, keeping a cooler in the car so that you can go grocery shopping, always having reading material with you, but it’s all about making a bad situation less awful.) If there is some sort of other transportation alternative (Uber, Lyft, train, car-pool), it can ease the pain, and I’d explore that, just so that you know what to compare that $100/day with and whether you are going to be on the driving hook every day. If your son will be able to drive soon, you may only be looking at a year or two, but then you’ll be looking at needing another car. And while you might think that this time in the car with your kid is great “relationship” time, in our case, DS usually fell asleep or did homework. Not really the pinnacle of our time together.

    Our school did not offer 5-day boarding, and when DS was deciding whether to switch status (see diatribe on driving above!), it was made clear that he would be expected to stick around on most weekends if he chose to board. He was told explicitly that he was not supposed to be “a day student with a bed here” – which may be your answer to what the experience is for a 5-day boarder – at least at some schools. As a day student, DS often arrived early (before breakfast) and didn’t leave until 9:30 or 10:00. So he really just was sleeping at home. Which is the next question that you should ask – when do things happen at school? At our school, many of the athletes did one on one training at the gym before breakfast. Clubs met after dinner. Science labs occasionally were run in the evening so that they’d have full 3 hour blocks. There were fun events most Friday nights. Things like foreign language films were sometimes shown in the evening (and attendance was strongly encouraged if you were studying the language.) Kids studied in groups and had group projects. Our school worked pretty hard to keep the day and boarding populations integrated, so day students lived the lives of boarders during the week. (All students, day and boarding, had the same “meal plan” – which was all of them!) The only difference – Monday through Friday -- was where they slept. So no, I don’t think that there’s a big difference in terms of experience for a 5 day boarder in that regard. I am familiar with a school that does only 5 day boarding because it serves a metropolitan area with sub-optimal service to its locale, but that too is different from a school where you have students who are there for most of the year. I DO think that you need to think through the commute and how much time is taken out of play for that.

    The one other things that tends to be different for day and boarding students are the rules. Boarders can't leave campus without checking out, yet day students are pretty much free agents when the day is over. I don't know if this makes a difference to you and your son -- whether you worry that he'd abuse the day student freedom, get in trouble with the boarding rules, etc. -- but for some kids and some schools, it can matter.

    All interesting options – and all have their pros and cons. You CAN do anything, and once you get in the groove, it’ll be your groove (or rut!) But having a long-ish commute is something I’d avoid if at all possible. I don't think that there are great generalizations, though -- I think you need to consider each school on its own.
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  • CTMom21CTMom21 479 replies2 threads Member
    I think you really need to look at each school independently as to the schedule and logistics, and what DS would be missing at the times he wasn’t there, if a 5-day boarder. Does 5-day mean he is on campus Mon-Fri night, and then he can leave after a sports commitment on Saturday and return Monday morning for class (and miss Sunday night study hall), or is it boarding Sun-Thurs, leave Friday evening and return Sunday evening? I think often there are fun activities Friday night before or after study hall, and of course the schedule depends on whether there are Saturday classes and what his sports or other weekend commitments are.

    I heartily agree with the others as to the driving and logistics. The kids are scheduled typically for a 13-14 hour day and are tired, and adding drive-time when he could be relaxing or sleeping can take a toll, not to mention the limitations it places in the rest of your family and the wear and tear (and gas) for you. Even if you did a 5-day board arrangement and he was around an hour away, that’s still a twice weekly commitment to make the trip and limits your weekend flexibility. (DS came home for a number od overnight visits this past year from about 90 minutes away and although an easy trip, it was a drag making the trip back late Sunday afternoon to get him back for check-in and evening obligations.)

    The money you save may or may not be worth it. You can also consider the options where you could conceivably make a change in status after a year if it’s not working logistically.
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  • GarandmanGarandman 219 replies9 threads Junior Member
    My personal opinion is that five day boarding programs combine the worst of Day and boarding. Like Day schools, the student body is almost exclusively local. Because it’s a five day program, the school tends not to have as many activities on weekends. 7 day programs tend to have a more diverse student body, geographically if nothing else.

    That said, you can take local schools like Milton (7 Day boarding), Noble & Greenough (5 day), and Rivers (day only) and we have friends with happy kids at all of them. A 50 minute one-way commute around Boston would be unworkable.
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1541 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Like most things, it really depends on what your son wants and what you can easily do. During the BS process I spoke to many people. Of those who had gone to boarding school, many said they wished they could have had the community of boarding school but lived close enough to be a day student. Hmm. That's tough to do unless you have a BS your kid likes, in their back yard. The 5 day program means you will have to pick him up every week. Ok, that seems fine but having activities on the weekend seems to increase community. Whether or not your kid wants to attend Sat. classes is also another factor. For our family though kiddo could do it, it would mean no weekend off and that wouldn't suit personality wise. Day schools are great but none matched the intensity of community at any of the boarding schools. And the boarding schools were all so different. Some had local kids and international kids, some had tons of legacies and sports kids, some had very alternative kids. It was a mixed bag for sure. The hardest thing was finding a good fit which included all of the factors.
    When looking I think we saw only one school with a five day boarding option ( and it really was a day school with a handful of borders-did not appeal in the least since all I could think of is what kind of boarding experience do they have with a tiny number of kids boarding and the rest going home? ) But they must have it for a reason.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79073 replies703 threads Senior Member
    Seems analogous to attending college as a commuter (= day), resident (= full boarding), or suitcase (= 5 day boarding) student.
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  • vwlizardvwlizard 319 replies33 threads Member
    edited August 2018
    The school closest to us ( 30 minutes) seems to have 7 day boarding for international students and the other (5 day) boarders are in commuting distance, but would like to have the structure of an evening study hall and extra help period.

    For the school further from us (50 minutes), we would only consider 5 day boarding as a cost saver. The school seems really accommodating about students staying for the weekend whenever they want to. One of my concerns is that since the 5 day boarding option is new, rules may change over time.
    edited August 2018
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  • PeriwinklePeriwinkle 3403 replies105 threads Senior Member
    My children thrived in 7 day boarding programs. In our area, 5 day boarding programs are rare. We usually had to drag our children away from campus on weekends. If the school would allow a 5 day boarder to stay on weekends, that would be ideal.

    Don't forget to deduct the cost savings for food for a growing teenager when comparing expenses. You pay for room & board, but you aren't feeding the child twice.

    Schools vary widely in their student culture. In many schools (but not all) there is a real split between day and boarding students. In others, not so much. You need to visit campus; it's hard to generalize.

    Schools do offer financial aid for students whom they like. You might find boarding is more affordable than you think at this point. A friend once said, "you're more attractive the further you're willing to go from home."
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