If you believe some popular representations of boarding school in film, TV and books, etc., boarding school is unappealing and you may wonder, Why would anyone want to go to boarding school? Of course, all drama (from the Greeks through to Glee and beyond) is based on conflict and it is always appealing to show the problems of the best and brightest, the kind of people you might find in a boarding school. The truth is much more banal, though. Boarding school offers many of the best things you can ask for in education. There's no better witnesses to that than boarding school students themselves, so listen to them, not us.
Why a boarding school education is appealing to teens
In a 2011 survey by The Association of Boarding Schools there were a number of very telling conclusions. They were as follows:
Who chooses to go to boarding school? In the vast majority of cases, students chose to attend boarding school. 63% of first year students in boarding school said that the decision to attend was "mostly" or "completely" their own choice. Only 16% said that the decision was mostly or entirely their parents' choice.
Why do you go to boarding school? Survey respondents chose from over ten options but there were three popular reasons. Strong academics was the biggest reason why students chose boarding school, with 26% of respondents checking this off. Better chances of getting into the college or university of your choice was another popular response with nearly 20% of students saying this was a strong consideration. Approximately 14% thought that living away from home was their biggest reason for going off to boarding school.
"It’s a very professional environment here. I feel like I’m advancing a lot."
– Alena, Victoria Ballet Academy
If you're serious about your high school education, there's no better place to be than in a boarding school.
And why do they stay? The reason why students continued boarding school changed notably from why they first chose boarding. 31%, nearly one third of boarding school students surveyed said that the thing they loved about boarding school was the community atmosphere created within a boarding school. Why wait for all the adventure of dorm life in university when you can experience it in high school?
"You probably won’t have 70 sisters at any point during your lifetime, but at boarding you do."
– Jessica, Appleby College.
Why is boarding school good?
In the end, boarding school is a big picture decision, one made with the long view. While some of the advantages are immediate, boarding school pays off in the long term. The number of leaders, heroes and other famous people who got their beginnings in boarding school is numerous, including many former presidents, famous actresses, famous actors, top athletes, leaders in business and many more.
Steve Nash says that boarding school allowed students "to learn lessons of other cultures and travels. For us to be exposed to that diversity gave us a need to kind of go out there and have a thirst for the world." Ted Rogers credits his early days at Upper Canada College as critical to his development of interests in both electronics and business. He used that beginning to build the Rogers empire.
The strong base possible only in a boarding school remains as relevant today as it ever has been for leaders of the past. Ben Gulak is an up-and-comer who credits boarding school with a supporting environment; he says his boarding school teachers "supported me 100 per cent." Gulak set a record for the highest seed funding ever handed out on the CBC show Dragon's Den and his invention the Uno was called "Invention of the Year" by Popular Science magazine in 2008.
Check out one of the boarding schools listed below to learn more about why you should go to boarding school and why a boarding school education offers uniquely critical advantages.
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