Boarding schools get a pretty bad rap. In book after book, movie after movie, they’re depicted as cold, isolating environments. The parents who send their kids to boarding schools are portrayed as neglectful and selfish, and the students themselves are portrayed as ill-behaved if not criminally inclined. But the reality of boarding school couldn’t be more different than the pop culture versions.

It’s not an easy decision to allow your children to live away from home, and boarding school isn’t right for every child, but there are some compelling aspects to a boarding school education. If your family is considering boarding school as an option, look beyond the fiction and learn about the real-life benefits. In a recent survey conducted by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), five areas stood out as the most beneficial. Here are the highlights from the TABS survey:  

Academic Promise

More than 60 percent of students enroll in boarding schools because of the promise of better education, and more than 90 percent say their boarding schools are academically challenging. Furthermore, boarding school students spend more than twice as many hours (17 vs. 8) a week on homework than their peers in public schools.

24-Hour Learning 

Across the board, boarding school students participate in more extracurricular activities than other students, whether they’re exercising and playing sports (12 hours vs. 9 hours), engaging in creative endeavors like music and painting (6 hours vs. 4-5 hours), or participating in student government and club activities (35 percent vs. 27 percent). 

Boarding schools offer leadership opportunities—>


Learning to Lead

The environment—in which teachers live among their students, and students live away from home—lends itself to the cultivation of self-discipline and independent thought. Leadership opportunities also emerge. More than three quarters of boarding school students say they have been given leadership opportunities. They also gain the advantage of regular interaction with their teachers outside of the academic setting.

College Ready

Boarding school environments—through the balance of mentor guidance and personal responsibility—deliver graduates to university with an unequaled level of preparation. Eighty-seven percent of graduates agree, and nearly 80 percent added that they were equally prepared for the non-academic aspects of college life, including independence, social life, and time management.

Getting Ahead 

Beyond college, boarding school graduates thrive. By mid-career, more boarding school graduates achieve top management positions with more frequency than students from other schools. More impressively, 60 percent of alumni give to social service organizations, compared with 46 percent of all others. 

Boarding School Myths Busted

Myth: You have to be rich.
Truth: Boarding school students come from a wide range of family income-levels. Approximately one-third of boarding school students receive financial aid.

Myth: It's for "problem kids."
Truth: There are two types of boarding schools: college-preparatory and therapeutic. College-preparatory schools are for motivated students who are looking to explore new opportunities. Therapeutic schools are for students who are having difficulty at home or in a traditional school setting.

—adapted from Boarding School Review

Read more about the TABS survey.

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