This is a question for any current BS students or parents. Have you found that it is difficult to get reacquainted with old friends when home for breaks and summer? I’d assume that you get out what you put in to some extent, meaning that if you make an effort to stay connected while away the relationship does better. I mostly want a little peace of mind that it’s possible to keep up old friendships after leaving. Social reasons are not at all why I decided to go to BS, and I actually really love a lot of my friends here. I’m sure it’s not easy to maintain home friendships, but if anyone could share personal experience that would be helpful! Or any advice for how to prevent falling out with hometown friends. I will also add that I live in a community where going to BS is very uncommon and therefore not universally understood.
My son is a current junior at bs. We come from a community that almost no one goes to bs.
All of his friends in 8th grade went off to the same public high school. They had their own adjustments to make - high school is different no matter where you go. Keep that in mind. You won’t be the only one going through huge changes.
Freshman year he stayed pretty connected to his friends at home. Honestly, video games helped with that. For summer he had a job with the neighborhood swim team, which gave him a social scene with people he knew.
Sophomore year friendships faded a little, and with covid I think everyone’s did. He spent his online time staying connected with his bs friends more than home friends. That pattern carried over to this year, too.
So he has three local friends that he texts, but not reliably. One will perk up for a while and they will hang out on line together. Then a different one. We will see how it goes this summer. He so far plans on having the summer job again, and hopefully he can hang out in person with friends.
It’s weird - everyone is on a similar path, but not. If you asked him, my son would say he feels like he doesn’t have a lot in common with his old friends. They still really like each other, but they are just different. No regrets, but there is a little sadness to it. There is at least one of his friends he thinks would do great at bs, and wishes he was at bs with him. He does NOT ever wish that he didn’t go to bs.
The summer job is probably the best thing he did to keep connected. The other thing - don’t hesitate to reach out to a friend, even if it has been a long time since you have heard from them. Be prepared to be the person who puts out the effort. People will be happy to hear from you. I promise.
Ds stayed friendly with his local friends through freshman year, then there was more drift. He’d see them here and there, but their friend groups changed and grew through high school so they were all on somewhat different paths too. We would occasionally do something with another family that included one of these kids, and they always connected easily.
You will have to work at it. A job where other friends work is one alternative. If your family belongs to a local pool or tennis/golf club where you can see friends, it can make it easier.
It’s true that you are all doing something new, so when you come back, make sure you are interested in their lives – they won’t be where you left them at the end of 8th grade. And be prepared to feel a little left out as they talk about experiences they share that you don’t.
Usually, the tightest friendships last because they evolve.
Despite going away for BS and not staying in touch while he’s away, my son’s best friends are his friends from home. They reconnect on breaks and in the summer and its like he never left. But he’s been friends with this group pretty much since kindergarten. They’re all athletes, played football together and they all have played lacrosse or wrestled together as well. Since Covid, they’ve only gotten closer as my son’s been home and they’ve had the chance to see each other pretty regularly (outside, around a fire pit, etc.)
No one else in our town goes to boarding school, everyone else goes to the local public high school or to the magnet tech school a few towns away. My son has friends at boarding school but he says its not the same - they don’t laugh at the same silly jokes or kid around and tease each other the same way. I think sports is a big contributor. 5-7 years of being teammates on multiple sports really forges tight bonds. At school, teams each term are different groups of guys so, while friendships may form, the kids aren’t together long enough to really get tight. If those kids happen to also be in your classes and dorms, then you may get closer. But it isn’t the same.
One thing to remember is that friend groups often shift around, esp in Grade 10, whether it’s all the same people in the same town or the friend group at BS. Very high odds that will happen with your existing friend group, whether you go to BS or not. If you were home, the regular contact with other local students would make the natural waxing and waning of friendships less obvious.
Shared platforms (social media/games) are a great way to have the regular, frequent contact that keeps a friendship alive. It takes work- and the person who is away has to do more than their share. Not great, of course, but don’t take it personally: the answer to ‘how come I’m the one who always has to reach out’ is that you are the one who went away. The reward for doing it (and having a thick skin when you come back and find that you have to reclaim your place in the group) is that you keep these friends as friends. Collegekid#1 didn’t go to BS, but we moved country after Grade 8. She worked hard to keep those friends- visiting as often as possible, and using every wi-fi format to keep in touch. It wasn’t always easy, but those friendships now have very deep roots (enough so that two of that friend group will be her bridesmaids when she gets married next summer, as will two from the school she moved to).
Our son chose boarding school partly to get away from a toxic situation here. He was glad to leave his neighborhood cohort and never looked back.
Both my kids kept their core friends when they went to BS.
But! The kids who went to the lps shifted friend groups anyway.
So friends change, or don’t. It really is based on your kid and their friends. Mine wanted to keep a couple friends from home and did.
It definitely depends on the kids and if they were really “friends”. DS doesn’t keep in touch with people well, and so his “friends” faded from hometown while in BS. But in hindsight, he realized many of these so-called friends were just associates from sports/school/ECs and did not really have much of a bond with him otherwise.
He definitely keeps up with a few people from BS that have graduated or during the pandemic that are remote that really are close to him.
I feel like DD will be the same-- she will stay in close contact with the 2-3 people that are truly her friends outside of school/activities. These are the ones that checked in on her M9 and M10 to ease her angst and then genuinely congratulated her when she was accepted.
But I think each kid is different and it will be hard to say how/if they keep contact until they are actually in the situation.
My kids drifted from their local school friends but they all attended, and eventually worked for, the same summer day camp where their friends came from many different schools and those summer friendships built over years without any local school connections remain remarkably intact.
Thank you all for the replies!!! I think that working a summer job with local friends is a really good suggestion. I also understand that friend groups evolve wherever you are. I’ve had some first hand experience with that during covid for certain. @collegemom3717 you make a very good point about it being on the student who goes away to reach out.
That situation was the same for our older son. For our younger son, it was much the same, though he had a couple of middle school friends. COVID really hurt those who are freshman this year, because they were disconnected from old friends, but were very restricted in their ability to make new friends.
At least for boys, video games provide a slow ramp down in the closeness of old friendships, even while the kids are geographically separated. At first, they are playing the same platforms and the same old games, but then they go their separate ways over time.
My kids have kept up with kids who were important. As long as they have things in common even if it’s just the same sense of humor, and they’ll stay in touch. Some of the kids changed ( a lot) in high school and my kids just didn’t bother to keep the connection.
They have many friends that they see irregularly but pick right up when they do. My kids tend to have a friend or three from each thing they do. They don’t mix their BS friends with their home friends. Or their team friends. Lots of silos.
Our kids were brought up in a town where many kids went to private/BS. So it wasn’t an odd thing.
Kids keep in touch a lot via social media. My kid did somehting online to raise money and many childhood friends gave $5/10. It was really sweet.
This may be something “good” that came out of COVID. The past year really normalized connecting and hanging out virtually and I think this will make it a lot easier to stay connected with old friends.
I also think this will ease the divide that often exists between day and boarding students. My kid works on HW while “hanging out” or collaborating with a mix of day and boarding friends every night. I don’t think that will go away.