A Boarding school or a School with Boarding?

Don’t be fooled by schools who claim they are ‘boarding schools’ if the percentage of day students is significantly higher than that of their boarding population.  I have heard schools of 400 or 500 with boarding populations of 40-50 calling themselves ‘boarding schools’.   To be frank, I would not consider these schools  ‘boarding schools’;  they are schools that have a boarding element.  They may have a boarding culture that is a vibrant and important element in their school, but this culture will not compare with a school whose entire raison d’être revolves around the boarding community.

Many schools with a small boarding population don’t like to hear me say this because they are attempting to fill their beds.  I feel their pain; I respect their schools and what they are trying to achieve.  These schools may be able to offer other amazing programs that are unique to their school, but let us be honest:  do not underestimate the difference students will experience at a school where the boarding population constitutes at least 60-70% of its entire student population.  It changes everything.

Consider the reality of Scenario #1: you are a boarding student in a ‘boarding school’.  It is 6:30 pm and you are leaving the dining hall.  Virtually all the students you have spent time with that day are still there.  It is community time. Social time.  The campus is alive and programs are available long after the academic classes are over.  The community is intact.  You and your friends are together.

Now consider the reality of the experience of Scenario #2: you walk to your dorm after dinner and the majority of your peers and friends are at home with their own parents.  The vibrant din of socializing of the day is now replaced with a different campus – one considerably different compared to earlier in the day.

You get the point.

If you are planning to be a boarding student at a school, I highly recommend looking around at both types of schools.   I would try to visit them during regular hours and then also ‘after hours’.   The difference will be palpable; depending on what you are looking for, it will certainly allow you to make an informed decision.

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About the Author
Clayton Johnston Clayton Johnston

Clayton Johnston is the Director of Admissions at Brentwood College School in Vancouver Island, BC. He blogs regularly at Brentwood Admissions Blog about his school and about life in the admissions office at Brentwood College School. Visit BCS to learn more: www.brentwood.bc.ca

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