Boarding schools. The mere phrase evokes various images. Mischief. Entitlement. Perhaps a place where problem children are sent? These sorts of misconceptions aren’t uncommon, but they are inaccurate. In fact, most boarding schools, often referred to as “prep schools” (short for college preparatory schools), are filled with ambitious students who are seeking more — more challenge, more independence, more preparedness for college life and beyond. By immersing themselves in a community of like-minded peers and teachers, students can reach their full potential at boarding schools. We asked the education experts at The Webb School about the specific benefits students reap while enrolled in a boarding school, and the information is pretty enticing!
Off the bat, let’s discuss traditional day schools versus boarding schools. What are the key differences? Julie Harris, Director of Admissions for The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, says, “The biggest difference is that the teachers know you as a person and not just as a student.” Absolutely, and how could they not? Boarding schools offer around-the-clock supervision with ample freedom, both of which combine to create an ideal environment for students to flourish. Many boarding school teachers are also dorm parents, which provides them with additional insight into a student’s life that a teacher wouldn’t otherwise know. “It’s a totally different dynamic when the teachers know what the students are really going through because they see them going through it,” Julie shares.
Additionally, boarding school kids foster deep connections with faculty and peers, gaining social skills to help them navigate future endeavors like higher education. Away from their families, they learn life-altering lessons about independence, accountability and the importance of community. “There’s so much research out there that kids are going to college unprepared,” Julie says, “not necessarily academically, but just socially with life skills.” Boarding school gives students a chance to build autonomy — without the watchful and often interfering eye of Mom and Dad — before it’s thrust upon them in the collegiate atmosphere.
Students find that being surrounded by peers who are going through the same life changes and age-related struggles is also affirming. Therefore, it stands to reason that boarding school friends often become lifelong friends. They enjoy gathering in the evening to work on group projects or meeting up at the library to do homework without needing a parent to shuttle them. These experiences offer students the opportunity to explore who they are as individuals in a safe setting. “So much more happens when a child gets pushed in a positive way in a safe environment,” says Julie. “They learn to be harder workers, to manage a bigger, fuller plate of activities and responsibilities.”
Of course, boarding school isn’t all work; students get a chance to play. Boarding schools often feature top-of-the-line facilities and a wide menu of extracurricular activities. Choir rooms, dramatic theater, art galleries, playing fields and wilderness programs are just a few options that help to balance out a well-rounded education. First-rate coaches and teachers are also on hand to work with students, helping to build confidence while advancing their development. At boarding school, children can easily take up a new sport or find out if they’re artistically inclined.
Boarding school kids are immersed in a student body that’s worldly. Collaboration among peers from different cultures and an international staff, which is what The Webb School offers, help broaden students’ perspectives. “The discussions in the classrooms are global based instead of regionally based,” Julie says of the experiences Webb students enjoy. “Their points of view become so much bigger because they’re not just thinking about how the things they do affect people from the Middle Tennessee area, not even America, but the world.”
Choosing where to send kids to school is never easy, let alone whether to send them to a day school or a boarding school. Boarding schools can provide a top-notch, well-rounded education, forging the path toward a distinguished college career and successful occupation.
“Sometimes families feel like their peers will look at them like they’ve sent their children away,” Julie says, “but really, it’s them giving their children an amazing opportunity.” And no parent will ever argue with that.
The Webb School is located at 319 Webb Road E., Bell Buckle, TN 37020. If you’re interested in learning more about The Webb School, call (931) 389-9322 or visit thewebbschool.com.
This article is sponsored by The Webb School.