Our instincts are to keep our children close, and to protect them from the ‘big bad world’ for as long as possible. However, evidence suggests that this may actually do our children a great disfavour, especially as they strike out nervously for the first time to attend university. Boarding school students, on the other hand, already have independence in their armoury, and are amply equipped for a calm and positive transition to Higher Education. But why is this?
Outstanding teaching quality
Clearly, academic achievement is key to preparing for University and beyond. Boarding offers every child the opportunity to thrive academically – far beyond other forms of educational provision. With small class sizes and high-quality teaching staff, students actively engage with the curriculum, without the distraction of unwieldy class sizes or peer indiscipline. But boarding takes the day’s learning even further, far beyond that of scheduled ‘lessons’. Boarding affords staff the opportunity to provide young people with the very best of their care and nurturing around the clock, supporting their well-being, which crucially underpins their academic accomplishment.
The care of professional house parents
These teaching and pastoral care professionals are on hand at all times to help with academic challenges after hours, and have the well-being of each student as their core focus. Further, house parents have the privilege of witnessing your child’s development in both formal and informal learning contexts, making them uniquely able to help your child identify their own goals, interests, and emerging talents. In a manner comparable to the ‘club and society’ ethos of university life, professional house parents create a broad and worthwhile enrichment experience for all children in their care, building a valuable grounding for students to take into Higher Education and beyond.
Support through application and beyond
House parents can provide continued support after school throughout the university application process, which for some Higher institutions, may be a challenging journey. While tutors and teachers will provide the core guidance through the application period, house parents can deeply relate to the challenges that face students, through personal experience of this time in their own academic growth. They’ll be on hand throughout to resolve any worries or frustrations, sharing these with teaching staff and parents when and if appropriate. In addition, boarding itself provides the comfort of counterparts who are also on a journey through the same process – not unlike a large extended family with siblings of the same age who can reassure each other, with house parents providing experience and encouragement throughout.
The importance of independence
The life skills of getting up on time, keeping your room tidy, managing laundry, going out unaccompanied, and balancing schoolwork and social life may not be the first items on your list when considering what boarding school fees ‘deliver’! However, these abilities will help make the first weeks of university much more straightforward, and also make your child a much more appealing roommate in shared residences. The boarding school experience anticipates the various new freedoms that your child will encounter at university, and equips them to handle these with foresight, judgement, and leadership. While other freshers tussle with the unfamiliar responsibilities of self-care and getting along with new roommates, your child will be free to concentrate on their academics and exploring every aspect of university life.
The power of international friendship
The impact of international boarding school friendships cannot be underestimated in the part they play to equip your child for university life. By both working and living with their peers in the boarding school system, students develop valuable interpersonal skills, exposed as they are to their peers both ‘on’ and ‘off duty’. In addition, boarding attracts students from all walks of life and corners of the globe, exposing your child to a rich cultural diversity. These varied perspectives on belief system, social norms, current events, lifestyles, and even pop culture references enhance the academic classroom and broaden personal perspectives. The result is maturity and emotional intelligence beyond their years – serving your child well not just through the culturally diverse university period, but onward to the workplace, and into adult relationships too.
The security of peer motivation
Peers have a further, and crucial, role to play not only in preparing your child for university life, but in ensuring their time at boarding school is happy and successful. At boarding school, your child’s friends will invariably be motivated to do well and hope to attend university – ambitions so often missing from state or public-school provision. Instead, your child will enjoy the companionship of conscientious peers who are at the same stage in their learning, and who relish studying and problem-solving together as an encouraging group. Homework is so much more fun and productive when tackled with friends, rather than studying alone at home! At boarding school, your child can relax into their studies, safe in the knowledge that boarding is a compassionate environment that supports and celebrates every child’s discovery of their true academic potential.
A dress rehearsal for life
The modern boarding experience, in fact, goes far beyond preparation for university. Boarding affords your child the supportive environment in which they can both recognise and reveal their own strengths and weaknesses. Students can safely make mistakes, and be supported by professionals to learn from them within the secure setting of the boarding school, developing key life skills such as adaptability and resilience. Your child will make personal connections and friendships with students from all over the world, providing them with a strong alumni network to draw upon for the future. In reality, boarding provides your child with the best possible dress rehearsal for a life well lived, giving them the confidence, self-esteem and vision they need to flourish in Higher Education and adulthood.