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Is Boarding School Right for You?

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Boarding School Survival Guide, photo credit D. Bhathena

Justin Muchnick, the author of The Boarding School Survival Guide, encourages teens to consider boarding school during high school. Justin has experienced boarding school first hand and recognizes the value of a boarding school education.

In a recent interview for TeenLife, Justin explains why he is an avid supporter of a boarding school education.

1. Why did you consider a boarding school?

I was introduced to the idea of boarding school by my seventh-grade English teacher, Mr. Rogers. (I talk about him in greater detail in my book’s introduction.) He promoted classroom discussion instead of lecturing at the front of the class. He had the students direct the flow of the class while he moderated. As a former writer-in-residence at Phillips Exeter Academy, he made me want to look into boarding schools.

2. How do you know if boarding school is right for you?

I think boarding school is right for you if you can articulate your reasons for wanting to go and have a clear understanding of the rigorous nature of boarding school. You should not go to simply want to get away from your parents. Good reasons to look into boarding school, on the other hand, include a diverse and international student body, accessible teachers, dormitory camaraderie, and an immersive academic environment. And you can often test it out in a boarding school summer progam.

3. How do you choose a boarding school? What factors do you consider most important?

My first chapter in The Boarding School Survival Guide further details all of the aspects to consider when choosing a school, but location, athletic programs, cost, type of school (single-sex, military, religious, arts, etc.), and student life are some of the considerations one might make when evaluating schools.

[Find the right boarding school for you!]

4. What are the steps you should take when applying to boarding school?

Talk to your parents and be able to make a convincing argument about why you want to go to boarding school. Take the SSAT or ISEE test, complete the applications and essays (many are available on line), have your transcripts and test scores sent to the schools, obtain teacher recommendations, visit campuses if you have the means, interview, and read The Boarding School Survival Guide for insights from real students who have attended or recently graduated from boarding school.

5. Is boarding school like college? Can you list some of the similarities and the differences?

I have not been to college yet, so I obviously do not know the ins and outs of college experience. That said, boarding schools are similar to colleges in that they are both residential (unless you are a day student at a boarding school). Although teens have a great deal of independence and freedom in boarding school, adults are very involved and accessible in our lives. We have faculty who live in our dorms, academic advisors, teachers and administrators all very invested in our well-being. We also have very easy access to teachers – not just in the classroom, but in the dining hall, at athletic events, and at school productions.

6. Is boarding school expensive? Are there scholarships for students?

I am glad you asked that. Tuition, room, and board are the major costs, but travel expenses, car rentals, and hotels for parents helping move you in and out are all additional costs to consider Financial aid and scholarships options are also available at schools, and there is a chapter in The Boarding School Survival Guide that goes into much greater detail on this question. I am also personally offering two-$1000 tuition scholarships to students who read my book and apply. Details are in the back of the book as well as on my web site www.justinmuchnick.com. The due date is June 30, 2015 and is open to all current and future boarding school students.

7. Are there different types of boarding schools?

Yes. Single sex, military, religious, and arts schools are some non-traditional boarding schools. My book also has chapters written by students who attend these types of schools and can more deeply describe their experience in them.

8. What do you recommend students do to adjust to boarding school life?

Be open to orientation experiences and jump right in. Meet as many students as possible right away. Don’t be shy. Everyone feels nervous at the beginning. Seek help (emotional, academic, social) whenever you need it. Stay connected with your parents and siblings for both of your sakes via skype, text, email, or phone calls.

9. What are some useful resources you recommend for students who are considering a boarding school?

There is a resource guide in the back of my book listing many helpful web sites such as boardingschoolreview.com, The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), BoardersReport.com, admissionsquest.com, and USAboardingschools.org. Of course, my book is also a great resource.

10. How can The Boarding School Survival Guide help students with their decision?

By offering real stories and words of wisdom from current and recently graduated students, the book really offers an honest glimpse into today’s world of boarding schools. The candid remarks in my book are unfiltered, and there really is no other book like it out there. I myself learned a lot from my contributors, too!

About Justin

I am from Southern California and just began my third year of boarding school at Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts. I decided to apply to boarding school when a middle school teacher recognized my passion for learning and the Harkness method (an interactive, student-driven style of learning. Students sit in a circle and the teacher facilitates a dialogue between them).

At Andover, I am the captain of the varsity wrestling team, play soccer, participate in the chess club, and work as a tour guide. I also write for TheBootleg.com, Stanford University’s football fan website, am a charter content creator at YourSports.com, and have published two books, Straight-A Study Skills (2013) and recently-released The Boarding School Survival Guide (June, 2014). You can email me at boardingschoolsurvival@gmail.com, visit my website at justinmuchnick.com, or follow me at @BoardingSchl on Twitter and at The Boarding School Survival Guide on Facebook.

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