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Switching from day student to boarding student

carpoolingmacarpoolingma Registered User Posts: 404 Member
DS is going in to 10th grade and is currently a day student because we live SO CLOSE to his school. He is (and has been) pushing hard to board. Back when he was applying, we said we would revisit it for 11th or 12th grade. We still about 6-8 months before we need to decide for 11th grade. Thoughts? Will it be hard to adjust to dorm life midway through? Will it be easier to focus on studying? His friendships are close now. Will they be even closer? Is there more or less opportunity for trouble? (He is a very good kid but I learned long ago to never say never.) We are trying to figure out the intangible cost/benefit. And, is it ridiculous to even consider it given that we live very close to campus?
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Replies to: Switching from day student to boarding student

  • momof3swimmersmomof3swimmers Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member
    I think he will be better prepared for college success being able to live away while still having a little handholding.
  • sgopal2sgopal2 Registered User Posts: 2,949 Senior Member
    Being able to board does allow kids to feel a stronger connection to the school, no doubt. Adjusting to dorm life should not be an issue. In fact your child will probably find that the rules while boarding are tougher than at home (study hall, mandatory check ins, internet shut down at night, etc).
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 3,329 Senior Member
    We went through this decision as well. I think that this depends on so many things -- but first and foremost, the school and your situation. We knew quite a few families who switched from day to boarding simply because they hadn't fully appreciated the toll that that the daily commute (often 6-7 days a week) was going to take both on the family and the student. Most of them had drives of at least 30 minutes each way and came to the conclusion that it was just not sustainable. (We had a terrible winter first year, and that compounded the driving woes for many because, of course, BS stops for no weather!) They all made this decision for sophomore year. We also knew two faculty families (who obviously lived on campus) who did this to give their kids a little bit more "space" given that they were all so very involved in the community. I know that neither of these situations applies to you!

    If there are very few day students, a kid can definitely feel like an outsider if he doesn't live in the dorm. If there is a decent size day student population (measured by numbers more than %), the decision dynamics may change significantly when the kids are old enough to drive. A kid with a car can get to campus and stay there all the time (during which time his time looks exactly like a boarder's) AND have the freedom to come and go as he pleases. Many day students who were considering boarding during their sophomore year -- to be near their friends -- changed their tune when they realized that they could achieve that with a car. And then some! Particularly as upperclassmen, day students definitely have more freedom -- whether it's simply going to a friend's house, heading out to play a game of golf, meeting up at a restaurant, etc.-- than do boarders. If there are almost no other day students to do that with, it's less of a draw, of course.

    If your son's friends are primarily day students (and this sometimes happens whether the school has a day/boarder divide or not), he may feel that if he boards, he'll have less contact with them and have to be more in the orbit of the boarders. (And this will be exacerbated by the car thing.)

    Which is all to say that at the end of freshman year, it may be too early to sort through all of this because there may be a shift in friendships and he may also get a glimpse into what life as an upperclassman may look like as a day student. (Imho, boarding is MUCH more attractive for underclassmen who have to depend on parents for rides.) What you should do during the first half of next year is find out what's involved in changing status, what the dates are for making the request and then the decision, evaluate the economics, etc. Your son may not be interested at that time -- or he may. I would guess that simply having been in that environment, the transition to boarding would be an easy one. Most day students are on campus most of the time and their parents are deliberately disintermediated enough that they are quite independent. At our school, one of the considerations on the school's part was the student's disciplinary record, so I doubt that they'd support the move if they felt it would compromise his success in any way.

  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 Registered User Posts: 3,038 Senior Member
    "Particularly as upperclassmen, day students definitely have more freedom -- whether it's simply going to a friend's house, heading out to play a game of golf, meeting up at a restaurant, etc.-- than do boarders."

    This is very true. Many boarders are stifled with the rules by the time they are juniors or seniors. Day students get to come and go as they please once they have their license.

    If you live really close, I'm not sure why the school is pressuring you. Does your son stay on campus until very late every day? My kids do. They are there all the time - when the boarders go to their dorms at 8pm for study hall, they go home and are back by 7:30 the next morning. They don't miss much.
  • carpoolingmacarpoolingma Registered User Posts: 404 Member
    @suzyQ7 It is my son, not the school, that is pressuring me. DS usually stays until 7:30 or 8, occassionally he stays for study hall and comes home around 10pm. And yes, he is back by 7:30 the next morning. He really wants that dorm experience though.
  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 Registered User Posts: 3,038 Senior Member
    Ah, I see! As long as you can afford it and he understands the rules/limitations of being a boarder, then maybe let him try it for 10th grade (if that's still possible). He can always go back to being a day student junior and/or senior year once he has the experience and can make an informed decision.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 28,992 Super Moderator
    They are there all the time - when the boarders go to their dorms at 8pm for study hall, they go home and are back by 7:30 the next morning. They don't miss much.
    This was the same when I was in BS. Depending on the school, of course, but day students are generally well-integrated into the community, and the only difference is where they put their heads at night. They are often on-campus through dinner and study period, and on the weekends. Occasionally they sleep over as well. So as a boarder, I'm not sure he's missing much, if anything. But if you can afford it,...
  • carpoolingmacarpoolingma Registered User Posts: 404 Member
    @suzyQ7 , at DS's school, you can switch from day to boarding one time so if he switches, he cannot switch back.

    The earliest we would consider is starting Junior year. DS is well integrated in the community. Whether we can afford it can be variable from year to year and is never without tradeoffs...particularly with college looming! We highly prioritize education and will sacrifice for it, but upon further reflection I don't think the extra for boarding is worth the sacrifice at this point. (Maybe Sr year? If he still wants to?) The responses here and that I got through DM have been very helpful! Thank you all so much!
  • twinsmamatwinsmama Registered User Posts: 1,318 Senior Member
    Mercersburg actually requires all seniors to board. Do any other schools do that? I think it is a nice compromise; one might say that one part of the college prep function of boarding schools is ensuring that students are able to manage living away from home.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 3,329 Senior Member
    Westtown used to do that for juniors and seniors but dropped that requirement. (I want to say they made this change about 5 years ago, but I seem to have hit that point in life where the years all run together!) :))
  • carpoolingmacarpoolingma Registered User Posts: 404 Member
    Revisiting...have to decide by Jan 15!
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 1,607 Senior Member
    I guess I would say do it as boarding is -in my opinion--the one thing that really lifechanging at that age--but I dont know your kid or the school so....
  • GoatMamaGoatMama Registered User Posts: 817 Member
    What @Center said. And only if you can afford it.
  • vegas1vegas1 Registered User Posts: 331 Member
    Boarding has been the most influential factor on my kids BS experience. They wouldn’t trade it for anything. If your son is set on it, I would support him and say go for it!
  • carpoolingmacarpoolingma Registered User Posts: 404 Member
    edited January 8
    He has been asking to switch since the start and we have put him off, telling him we would reconsider for 11th grade. Now is the time to decide for 11th! I think we have moved along to where we are giving him the ability to make the call. He was pushing pushing pushing while we were saying no. Now, he is carefully weighing what he perceives as the pros and cons. @Center , ds is at Peddie. Even the 7:30am-8pm or 10pm plus weekend activities and, often, Sundays on campus has been lifechanging for him.
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