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Alcohol and Drugs at Boarding School

CaliMexCaliMex Registered User Posts: 1,001 Senior Member
Some boarding schools boast about their students' low usage of drugs and alcohol compared to peer institutions. (I've heard dip is a popular substitute among the boys at one of these schools.) Other schools have legendary reputations for drugs that were forged decades ago and may (or may not) apply today.

How does one sort fact from fiction?

Are the differences between schools real ... or just a matter of reputation?

(Hard to know if things would be better or worse living at home, too...)

Replies to: Alcohol and Drugs at Boarding School

  • cababe97cababe97 Registered User Posts: 433 Member
    edited January 17
    I would argue that some schools definitely have more issues regarding drug and alcohol usage than others. The best way to get information on individual schools is from a good source and not rumors because they can be misleading. There are schools that are notorious for their drug usage and others not so much. The students usage can also change over time, and so can reputations, so it’s better to get info from a source who knows the school and what is happening in current times, and not from an alum who attended the school 20+ years ago.
  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom Registered User Posts: 4,704 Senior Member
    edited January 18
    Slow day, @CaliMex? ;)

    Alcohol and drugs are happening everywhere, public and private. Your chances of getting enough absolute, factual data on non-reported behavior to make any type of reasonable comparisons between schools, IMO, are slim and none. Until boardingschoolreview.com includes drug and alcohol usage as a metric, I don’t see this conversation as any more than rhetorical.

    If this question is important to anyone, best ask the schools themselves. Otherwise, all you will get here is anecdotes and conjecture.
  • girlprep2girlprep2 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I would argue that there is indeed solid, current information out there from both parents and students alike. I suggest tossing out some school names and inviting users to PM you. You might be able to gather some specific information you seek.
  • preppedparentpreppedparent Registered User Posts: 3,261 Senior Member
    Having a senior and sophomore currently in college, they report that alcohol is rampant in frats and elsewhere on campus and weed is rampant in the dorms. Seems like weed has made a huge come back. It has to have started in high school or earlier to be so endemic. It didn't just start in college.
  • GoatMamaGoatMama Registered User Posts: 1,011 Senior Member
    edited January 18
    Slow day, @CaliMex?

    Just dealing with post-application withdrawal... ;) I PMed you, @CaliMex.
  • ThacherParentThacherParent Registered User Posts: 841 Member
    edited January 18
    Sometimes you can read student commentary on drugs/alcohol in the boardingschoolreview.com comments section. Sometimes you can find info in student publications. And sometimes the schools will make available their anonymous survey results if they engage in that sort of self-reflection. I do think drug and alcohol use varies widely among schools, from very little to quite a lot. My son told me that he never saw any on-campus drinking or smoking in his four years at Thacher (and this from a kid who enjoys parties), but that stuff did take place episodically off campus.
  • CaliMexCaliMex Registered User Posts: 1,001 Senior Member
    I don’t think AOs or any other adults judged on volume of applications received is going to give a forthright answer (or would necessarily know the answer).

    Drugs and alcohol might be endemic to teens. But when my kid shadowed at local indep high schools, one school stood out as having kids who were high during class (just two kids in one class.. but she didn’t see that elsewhere).

    One BS cited an anonymous survey conducted among BS students at several schools.
    So I do think there are variations based on whether kids have other healthy outlets for stress, approach to discipline, degree of supervision, access (sometimes made easier if there are lots of day students?)

    It is interesting to note that on this thread, everyone is minimizing differences between schools. What I’m hearing via PM and email is quite different.

    Who knew you were such a diplomatic bunch?
  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom Registered User Posts: 4,704 Senior Member
    edited January 18
    I would not minimize the differences, I would say that drugs and alcohol are happening everywhere and that the differences in magnitude between most of the coveted schools here is probably minimal. I would expect ALL PMs to give you stories of those behaviors heard and observed at the PMers schools, and I bet there isn’t a parent on this forum who doesn’t have some kind of story to tell. I just wouldn’t bother to PM anyone with my anecdotes because they are just that and I would hope that no one would be making judgements about a school based on such. Meh.
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 19,115 Senior Member
    "It is interesting to note that on this thread, everyone is minimizing differences between schools. What I’m hearing via PM and email is quite different."

    How many posters have either first hand or kids at more than one school? Even if someone has a kid at the school their knowledge, or lack thereof, will be based on how honest their child is, how close their kid is to the action.
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 2,225 Senior Member
    Drugs and alcohol are everywhere -any differences may be from year to year or impacted somewhat by day verses boarding or % of day. (cars-)
  • CaliMexCaliMex Registered User Posts: 1,001 Senior Member
    There used to be a poster named @Quenn who had kids at SPS, Exeter, Choate, and SAS, I believe. Perhaps they will stop by and weigh in on this (and other) aspects of BS cultures at different schools...
  • PhotographerMomPhotographerMom Registered User Posts: 1,828 Senior Member
    Thankfully, my kids didn't party at BS... Don't get me wrong- they may have but they rowed which put a wet blanket on pretty much everything- even during the summer . When they went off to College.... all three went wild during their FirstYear. I mean W.I.L.D. And it was so unexpected every time. Well, we're not completely stupid.... by the third kid we finally caught on to a trend developing ( LOL ).... and braced ourselves but he was the worst!! He made his sibs look like perfect angels! (((WTH)))) You have no idea!!

    Serious question: Do you think that's a pitfall or curse for ( some ) kids coming out of formal/ strict BS environments- even athletic/ street smart/ mature kids?

    I've compared notes with many other former BS parents, and just when I thought our kids were the worst ... someone would raise their hand and say that we got off easy. Every Single Time. And, compared to what their families went through- we did! OMG- the stories... thankfully most had happy endings but still- Holy Crap!

    FWIW- All Photokids have their act together now ( Thank God ) but K2 really gave us a run for our money.

    Anyone else care to let their hair down or weigh in on the question above? I'd love to hear what parents think, if it's okay with the OP !
  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom Registered User Posts: 4,704 Senior Member
    edited January 18
    ...they may have but they rowed which put a wet blanket on pretty much everything- even during the summer

    Pretty much the same for ChoatieKid, @PhotographerMom, but my juiciest story about undeveloped frontal lobes at BS concerned the rowing team. Oh wait, I just said upthread that I wouldn’t be sharing those anecdotes. ;) Given that my kid is at a service academy, he will have to wait to go wild until he graduates. Then, look out. He’ll probably show up to his first duty station with improperly creased trousers, poorly polished shoes, or some other atrocity.

    (Actually, prior to this past Thanksgiving break at West Point, two seniors who were unhappy with their branch assignments, got drunk and discharged firearms in one of the barracks. WP determined that of the cadets had intent to target some people. He has been separated and WP is treating the incident as an aborted mass shooting. No place is safe.)
  • dramakid2dramakid2 Registered User Posts: 149 Junior Member
    I'm not a BS parent yet (but hopeful!), but I did go to an all girls BS back in the day. I can attest to the fact that I went crazy the first year of college with the limited oversight and easy access to drugs and alcohol. Probably more so than my public school graduate friends who had more freedom during high school years.

    My BS was 50/50 boarding and day, and the day students provided the majority of the access to alcohol and drugs. Due to the strict on-campus environment, most of it took place off campus. It was common for boarders to spend weekend time at homes of day students & lots can happen when parents are sleeping.
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