Homework at Boarding School

Can anyone elaborate on amount of time spent on homework at each grade level per night? Also, is sleep prioritized and appreciated? My understanding from scientific research is our teens need 8-10 hours at a minimum per night. As I look at boarding school schedules they tend to support closer to the minimum versus maximum. Is it possible to get 10 hours of sleep per night and get all the work done? We are considering Lawrenceville, Hotchkiss and Taft but all inputs are helpful.

Take a look at a few PEA students…10 is probably impossible

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I think that the “living in a dorm with a bunch of your friends” part inhibits sleep just as much (if not more) than homework and scheduled activities.

That said, it really depends on the student. There are kids who get 10 hours of sleep at night. There are kids who get 6. With the independence of BS, it’s on the student to prioritize that.

To the extent that schools encourage it, I’m not sure. I think all schools will tell students that sleep is good for them, but not all enforce it as a policy (ie. through bed times and lights out).

In terms of homework, I recommend talking to current Lville students. General rule for freshmen I think is between 2-4 hours a night. However, no student will be so overworked with homework that they can’t sleep. Students may chose to participate in six extracurriculars, hang out with friends for a few hours, and not start their work until 10pm at night. While those students may say that homework is inhibiting their ability to get sleep, in reality it doesn’t have to. If you want to get your work done during the day, it’s possible. It’s just that many students chose not to.


Thank you for these responses. I believe at L’ville and Taft they have mandatory lights out at 10:30 or 11:00 pm but not sure how much kids adhere to policies. I also have heard wifi gets shut down at a certain time but don’t kids just use their hotspots on phones if they can’t access internet in house? I guess I’m trying to gauge if the two hours of study hall provided each day enough to get work done or do they have to find other time to get all the homework done. I imagine for a fully grown student, sleep is less important but many of these kids that are still growing certainly need a lot of sleep to realize their full potential.

Lawrenceville student (sophomore) here:

10 hours of sleep per night? That’s physically impossible, I didn’t even manage that in middle school—if you wanted to do that you’d either a.) have no extracurriculars b.) cripple your social life or c.) get bad grades.

8 hours is a far more reasonable number and more in line with what I get, give or take about half an hour each night. Homework is generally 3-4 hours a day, but how long it takes depends on your time management. Some days I’ll be finished before I get back home, others I’ll be working until midnight, for example. The general recommendation for homework time (under COVID) is 50 minutes per night for 200 and 300 level classes, and 70 minutes for 400 and 500—if you’re stronger or weaker in a given subject, however, it’ll affect the speed you do it quite significantly.

I will say that the numbers from those Exeter students seem exceptional. Most people I know sleep around 6-8 hours, going to bed between 11-1 and waking up between 7-8. Internet shutdowns do exist, but using hotspots is pretty common from what I’ve heard. The two hour study hall is not enough time to get homework done, and the school openly acknowledges this (literally—in the first few days of freshman fall our level director told us “you have study hall but don’t expect to get all your work done if you only do it then”), but there’s a lot of free time at other times you can use as a substitute.


From our family’s experience – DD had about 4 hours at Andover freshman year, and more like 2-2.5 hours at Mercersburg freshman year.

10 hours of sleep seems like a pipe dream for any high schooler I’m thinking…


Are you happy at your boarding school?

Also, when is there free time (extra time for homework) if you don’t have a open period.

2.5 is much more reasonable.

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Well, you know what they say: Sleep, academics, social life. Pick two.

The amount of time spent on homework depends on the student. It is not dictated by the school. 2-4 hours per night is probably an accurate reflection of the student-driven range at most of the boarding schools discussed here.

I know our son never got more than six hours of sleep per night (less in college), but not due to homework demands. These kids have a lot of interests and distractions in their BS lives which they will pursue to exhaustion, but they’re young and resilient and don’t seem to come out any worse for the wear. How each student eventually prioritizes/appreciates sleep is part of the time management balancing act that they learn in these independent settings.


Understood, a boy that is still very much growing physically requires more sleep than a female that arrives at full height and full grown. Perhaps this is why so many repeat 9th and 10th grade at a boarding school.

Homework time is partly a function of focus. Some kids sit down, do their work and focus until its done. Others, sit down, do a little work, look at their phone a bit, find something to snack on, take a pee break, etc. Freshman year, my kid’s roommate would be up all night doing homework while my kid slept. Other than language, they had the same classes.


Kids are people and vary a lot. Some are focused or/ work quickly, others take more time.
I don’t think anyone can tell you as each kid is different. And some kids are strong writers, readers, STEM etc so things may be faster. Plus kids come in with various backgrounds. Not equal by a long shot. Some kids join a lot of clubs, play sports too so practices and games can go long.
It’s never more than they can handle. It does require excellent time management, study skills and being in the right level classes. There are kids who sleep a lot. There are kids who study til 3. Most schools shut off light/wifi but kids have resources of they need help.

Kiddo is a freshman at Lville. I’d say at most, she gets 8 hours of sleep during the week. Lights out at 10:45 (yes WiFi is shut off at that time, but kids who want to get around that can do so), and she wakes up at 7am to get breakfast and finish her homework. Classes start at 9 (though this may be different during non Covid times). The homework load is way more than we had expected and bcs kiddo isn’t super efficient at getting it done, she is often doing work first thing in the morning, during consultation and during lunch. I do think that even for the most efficient workers, it’s beyond the two hours that study hall allows.

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I’d offer a different perspective about homework at PA. My day-student kids do 2-3 hours of HW/day, usually none on Saturday, and probably 1 day/week where it’s only say 45 minutes (i.e. 1 class) worth. They’re in their 1st year so I’d expect that to increase over time.

They’re sleeping 7-8 hours/night save Friday and Saturday nights where they’re getting more like 9-10.

I’ll add that they’re sleeping HARD so the hours really count. They come home after 13-14 hours on campus (roughly 8am - 9/10pm) and are totally spent. In a very great mood, but totally spent.


DD is atypical. IME 2.5-3 hours is closer to the norm assuming typical 9th grade courses. The workload does increase in later years and/or with advanced courses.


You might be right @skieurope. But DD’s roommate also had same workload and they both told me that their friends had similar. Her roommate is also leaving Andover after freshman year so it may be that the less-strong academic kiddos were drawn to each other in the dorms? My daughter is definitely the outgoing social type so maybe the less bookish types hung out and thus all saw a peer group with this workload.

I can say with certainty that I attended many Andover admission zooms this fall as I considered schools for DD3, and a number of students shared they typically had 4 hour workloads. (In fact not one student shared a different number.) So while my daughter may not be the absolute speediest and sharpest Andover homework-doer, I think many students have a similar workload experience. (And some probably love that! I think I would have personally but I’m less social than my DD is.).
Which is why I’ve said before: Andover serves a certain student very, very well. And many other students are smart enough to hold on tight and tag along for the ride. Whether they enjoy that feeling of holding on for dear life I think varies. (If a kid is getting homework done in 2.5 hours at Andover, they are probably in the first category.)


Thank you. Very helpful.

No, 2 hours of study hall is not going to be enough to get all the homework done except occasionally.

No, it is not because the kids are unfocused.

I have two very focused, efficient kids. Kids who learned early that if they could study for 20 minutes and get above a 90 that was going to be enough. Kids who didn’t have to study for a SINGLE math test their freshman years (so that leaves a gap of extra time for other homework).

4 hours EVERY night is the high end, 2 hours is the kids who are ok with an 85 average. 3 is probably somewhat realistic with days when it goes up to 4/5.


That sounds right @one1ofeach — 3 ish sometimes 4 ish, and maybe more often 4 ish if you have a chatterbox social butterfly like my kiddo.
But with two hours of study hall plus free periods, theoretically there is time to get it done. (My kid didn’t have study hall this fall due to PA Covid schedule so that structure wasn’t in place to carve out two hours automatically for her. So all 3.5/4 hours felt like she needed to carve out that time.)

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