I went to boarding school, and it was somewhat above the high school level, but with curfews, hall monitors, permission slips, etc. it pales in comparison to the “real” world of a college campus. Students are totally on their own & can attend or not attend class, eat when & where they want, go to bars if they’re of age, etc. Most students are mature young adults; in boarding school we were just immature high school kids.
In some respects it will not seem different but in other ways it will be a whole different world. First of course is the important fact that being away from home is nothing new, while it will be a major change most of your peers. At the same time the daily schedule at even the most liberal boarding school was far more restrictive and regulated than what one will find in college. Too, there is likely to be much greater diversity in the student body as well as a wider choices of academic options. For all of the identifiable differences, a huge part of the differences in the experience will stem from the basic fact that as a student you are in a very different place in your development. All of this being said, I know many boarding school grads who say they feel a greater attachment to their school than to their college, at least in part because it was their first experience on their own, and that it prepared them for the college experience.
You will experience a lot more autonomy in college. No one is going to check in with you if you miss/skip class. You will have to take the initiative to get help if you need it. You may find the student body to be more diverse. Obviously there will be a greater range of courses to choose from. Overall, there is much less parental involvement at the university level.
There is generally a lot more freedom in college. In boarding schools there is usually a curfew and a ‘lights out’ time. Boarding schools need to know where students are at all times. Colleges generally don’t have these restrictions. Boarding schools will usually have academic and social support built into the life of the school. Adults in a boarding school are more likely to seek out students who need help than in a college setting. In college, the first step is up to you.
There are many differences between boarding school & college. First, you will not have a dorm parent who will wake you up each day or check to make sure you’re in your room each night. Second, you will have many more academic demands and no one will make you attend study hall each night. Both of these differences mean you will have much more responsibility placed on you and you’ll need to learn how to manage your time effectively.
The biggest difference between a boarding school and college is this: structure versus independence. While boarding school students have great opportunities to learn independence while at school, boarding schools have structure because they have a significant responsibility to ensure that their students go to classes, follow through on their assignments, meet community responsibilities, and follow the rules. Boarding school students also have the luxury of teachers who may also be their dorm parents, so extra help on a tough assignment may be no more than a few steps down the hallway, even at 9:30 at night. To a great extent, the daily life of a boarding school is scheduled for them…when to wake up to when to go to bed. Their advisers have regular contact with parents/guardians so it is very difficult for a boarding school student to fall through the cracks. So while independence is earned in boarding school, it is independence with many levels of structure and support. Independence in college is true independence. Certainly like all schools, from grade schools to professional schools, colleges have rules to follow and academics are a priority. But in college, no one will make sure it is time for you to get out of bed and go to class. No one will set aside for you specific study hours each evening and give you a tap on the shoulder if you log in to Facebook when you should be revising the essay for your freshman seminar. No one will make you seek out a professor when you are struggling in a class. I am a huge proponent of boarding schools for the opportunities they offer and the independence that can be learned in those environments, but high school is high school and college is college. The structure of high school is in stark contrast to the independence of college.
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