When I tell people that I went to boarding school, a question I often get asked is would I do it again. I have spoken about my boarding school experience before on posts here and here. But for a while I have wanted to write a post aimed at both the parents of those who have or thinking about sending their child to boarding school. For those who may have just started boarding school I hope to make sense of those thoughts and feelings you may have about being away and hopefully make the most of this unique experience.
First of all the details!
School I went too– Ackworth School
Years I boarded 2007-2009
Age I boarded 16-18
How do you know if you will enjoy boarding?
To be honest, you won’t know until you try it. If you enjoy socialising and being involved with activities then boarding will suit you well as you will always be busy. I can guarantee at first you will hate it, but that is all normal and it is just part of settling into a new school, new routine and making new friends.
I have just started boarding school and feel upset and homesick all the time, is this normal?
Yes it is. I remember my first day, just being in utter shock and being so upset. I tried to keep it in (being a 16 year old boarder, so a little older than most). You will likely feel like this for at least a month but get involved with as many after school activities as possible to keep your mind busy. I would not recommend seeing your parents for the first month. as it just makes those feelings worse.
What were the advantages you found of boarding?
I felt very prepared for living away at University, having being a boarder I was accustomed to not being around my parents. It was good to learn about different countries and cultures from the international borders. I enjoyed the different activities that were put on during the weekends such as movie nights and I tried some different activities I wouldn’t have tried otherwise such as being part of the debate club or European Cinema club.
I lived in Yorkshire for my sixth form experience and to experience a new county was really good. Yorkshire was very different to Lincolnshire where I grew up. I happened to study A Level Geography and we would have all of these field trips around Yorkshire which was good fun.
Every Sunday there was evening reading where a speaker would come in and talk about a topic. Some of the topics were dull but there were some really good speakers, I remember one Doctor who came in and spoke her time as a burns specialist in Australia. I was one of eight school officers and one of us would have to stand up and say a vote of thanks after this. I really felt the vote of thanks improved my public speaking skills.
What were the disadvantages of boarding?
I couldn’t have a part time job, which I felt held me back when applying for jobs after University. There are curfews as well which at 16 being accustomed to seeing my friends more or less anytime I wanted, I felt was a bit pathetic. I hated Saturdays as we had to do activities in the morning and then we were free to do whatever we wanted in the afternoon. We were not allowed off site after school on the evenings after tea and could only go to the Co-Op between 4-6, which again annoyed me being able to go out when I pleased. At my school Prep (homework) was between I think 6.45- 8pm Monday to Thursday which drove me insane. Sometimes I just wanted a break from homework and I feel the continuous revision just isn’t healthy.
When you are ill and boarding it is the worse, it is just not the same as at home where your mum can come and give you treats! Obviously I missed my family and I found myself drifting away from old friends as the internet wasn’t as good in 2007 so that made catching up that bit harder.
Would I board again? To be honest if I could go back and do it again, I would but I would have chosen different A-Levels as that certainly hampered by experience (another story). I am glad I boarded when I did at 16, I felt at 11 it was too young but the younger girls seemed to have so much fun and I think at times coped with boarding better than the older girls as friendships were not as deeply made. I did feel sorry for those younger international boarders who seemed to only see their parents at Christmas or the summer. I don’t know how a relationship can be continuously developed if you are not a constant presence and I do think you would miss out on all of the key moments.
Have any of you boarded? Would you consider boarding school?