Boarding Schools: Myths & truths

Myths & truths on boarding school

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Call it the boarding school bonus.

The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), based in Washington, D.C., released what is perhaps the first longitudinal study of the lifelong results of attending boarding school. And the results are encouraging.

The TABS study, as it is known, was released in June 2004 and surveyed more than 2,700 high school students and adults from boarding schools, private day schools and public schools. Most of the institutions were American, although several Canadian schools participated, including Ridley College and Bishop Strachan, which are mentioned in the article on pages 30-32.
The American figures may not be entirely relevant to the Canadian experience, but the study tackles head-on a number of the myths that still cling to boarding. For example:

  • Boarding schools are homogenous: 59 per cent of boarders reported their schools had kids from many races and ethnic groups.
  • Boarding is for problem kids: 60 per cent of boarders said they were opting for a better education.
  • Boarders have troubled home lives: 86 per cent of boarders report a satisfactory or better home life.

But it’s in results where the boarding schools seem to score: 91 per cent of boarding school students report their schools are academically challenging. 

Boarders spend an average of 17 hours a week on homework, 12 hours weekly on sports or exercise and only three hours watching TV. 

The boarding advantage also shows up in chances for showing leadership at school: 77 per cent for boarding. Perhaps most crucial, 87 per cent of boarders judge they were well prepared academically for university. 

The payoff: By late career, 52 per cent of former boarders have achieved top management positions. In addition, former boarders reported giving significant time to philanthropic and political activities.

Excerpts are from the TABS study; the full report is available at www.schools.com (click on The Truth About Boarding Schools).

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