Whenever someone asks me about how I went to boarding school for high school, they either assume it’s something along the lines of Cadet Kelly, with uniforms and a boot camp, or Zoey 101, with personal scooters and living by the beach.
And to be honest, my experience was nowhere close to either of these (although I wish I could’ve gone to school by the beach and had a JetX to drive from class to class). Instead, I went to George School, a private Quaker day and boarding school in the middle of Newtown, Pennsylvania, with roughly 550 students in the entire student body.
Another thing that many people assume is that going to boarding school is only a list full of positives and no negatives. However, there were definitely some aspects of going to a boarding school that I wish could’ve been different. Here are a few of the pros and cons of going to boarding school:
1. Pro: No parents
This is probably the most treasured factor of going to boarding school: no parents around to boss you and nag you about doing your homework. Instead, you're on your own making your own choices with no one in your ear telling you what to do. This always made going home for holidays treasurable, since you would actually miss seeing everyone instead of having to see them every day, and you would have the time to catch up on everything you've missed!
2. Con: No parents
While having no parents around can be a blessing, it can also be kind of stressful too. At George, there were many times where I wished that my mom and dad were there to help me out and keep my stress levels down. Having them there to hold my hand through the stressful process of college apps and finals would have definitely kept me calm and collected instead of stuck and unsure what to do next. Plus, as they always say, mom's DO know best!
3. Pro: Living with your friends
Having some of my closest friends live on the same floor or in the same dorm as I made everything so much more fun! If I ever wanted to hang out or needed someone to vent to about my stress, it only took a few seconds to reach them, since they were only a few doors down from me. With my friends around, it was as if every weekend was a movie night and sleepover since at George we had in-room times for our own rooms on weekdays.
4. Con: Living with your friends
I love my friends to death, but living with them can eventually make you go a little crazy. You're constantly seeing them 24/7, sharing your living space with them, cleaning up after the other, and so on. There were a few times where we would butt heads and be almost at each other's throats because of how much we were around each other. But at least we had our own rooms so we could have a place to go to for some alone time and cool off (unless they were your roommate).
5. Pro: Freedom!
Similar to having no parents, boarding school means being independent and making your OWN choices! That goes for whether you want to stick to the dining hall or ordering out, scheduling consultations with teachers, planning out your schedule, etc. At George, we had all of these liberties, and all of the staff saw us as independent and capable of being young adults by being able to make these decisions and handle things for ourselves.
6. Con: Freedom...?
Being a boarder does come with some independence, but it also comes with important responsibilities and rules. This consisted of room inspection twice a week, making sure to check in with a dorm staff member at the end of the night, in-room or lights-out time, etc. If we wanted to leave campus for a few hours or for the weekend, we had to sign out through our Deans Office to let them know where we were going or how long we would be gone. As a student, I often found these rules to be kind of annoying, but looking back, I can understand the reasoning behind these rules.
7. Pro: Set schedules
8:00-3:00: Classes meet. 3:45-5:30: Sports activities (required for all grades). 5:30-7:15: Dinner. 7:30-9:30: Study Hall. 10:00: Check in required for all dorms.
This was the set schedule for George, and if I'm being honest, having this pre-determined schedule did help me become organized, especially for study hall. If George didn't have this schedule, I would've probably been struggling to find time to actually finish all of my work, considering all of the other requirements that students had to do!
8. Con: Set schedules
The schedule that George gave us (as mentioned in #7) was often stressful for some students, myself included. As teenagers, we need a good amount of time to socialize and to hang out, which the schedule didn't exactly do. I know it was created as something that would help the student body overall, but it didn't exactly every individual schedule.
Some nights, I had about 5 or 6 hours worth of work, and 2 hours of study hall made it very challenging to finish everything, especially since there wasn't a lot of time during the day to finish it, because of sports and finding time to eat meals.
Looking back at my experience, George School had a lot of its ups and downs, but I'm still thankful for the education it gave me, the opportunities it provided me, and the amazing friends I've made. It wasn't as strict as Cadet Kelly, and it might not have been as cool as Zoey 101, but I definitely do not regret making the choice on attending boarding school, thanks to everything it taught me.