Most people are familiar with the concept of a boarding school but as a modern-day boarding school student, you quickly learn about some of the misconceptions people have about it. Therefore, I think the best way to explain what a boarding school is all about is not to try to define it, but to establish what it’s not — according to my personal experience, anyway.
Myth one: It’s an extremely strict, suffocating environment
This is one of the top questions people ask me when I tell them that I attend a boarding school, and the answer is no, boarding school is not necessarily a place where one of your steps will be closely watched and you will not be allowed to do anything fun.
In fact, at EF Academy, it is quite the opposite: although there are some rules we are given a considerably high degree of freedom and are allowed to go wherever we want as long as we are back by curfew (10 pm on weekdays, and 11 pm on weekends). Our school trusts us to be mature enough to make the right choices for ourselves, and so far I haven’t heard of any major problems.
Truth: You will live with your friends
One of my favorite things about boarding school is definitely the fact that I get to live with my friends, all in the same building. And I have had so much fun with my friends in residence these past two years (we’ve had so many girls nights). But apart from that, living with your friends is especially good in times of stress, such as exam periods, because there will always be people who are going through the same things as you to understand and support you.
Myth two: Only troubled kids go
I think this relates to the previous point, but when I told people back home that I was moving to the UK to attend a boarding school I heard the classic question, “What have you done to get sent there?”
Well, boarding schools are not necessarily a type of punishment for troubled kids. I know I haven’t done anything bad. The reason I came to a boarding school is that I wanted to receive a better education than I could have in my home country, and experience a supportive, international environment.
Truth: You’ll become more independent and responsible
If you study at a boarding school your parents are obviously not there to tell you when/what to study, do your laundry, change your bedsheets, take care of your diet, control your spending, etc. These are only some things that you will have to learn to do by yourself, and you will be doing that a lot earlier than most people, which means that you will be much more independent, responsible and mature by the time you get to university. This will not only make it a lot easier for you to adapt to life at uni, but it will also place you ahead of many other students.
Myth three: Parents only send their unwanted children there
No, sending me to a boarding school was not a way my parents found of getting rid of their parental responsibilities. They did it because they wanted to make sure they were providing me with the best education possible. Also, the fact that I attend a boarding school does not mean that I am emotionally distant from my family, as we text or video call almost every day.
Truth: Parents want their children to have a bright future
The academic environment encourages you to study. Attending a boarding school is a very intense academic experience. Not only does the environment frequently remind you that you have to study, but also seeing everyone around you reading, writing essays or doing calculations encourages you to study too. So if you are really striving for good grades, a boarding school is definitely the place to be.
Myth four: It’s always a religious school
At least in Brazil where I’m from, there’s the stereotype that a boarding school is always religious. Most boarding schools there are Christian schools and they have a lot of strict rules. But that’s not always true, especially at a school as diverse as EF Academy.
Truth: You meet people from all backgrounds and learn from them
EF Academy is international. There are a lot of people here from different backgrounds and religions and it’s one of the things that makes my experience here so rich and interesting. You’ll make lots of amazing friends at boarding school and even though it’s impossible for you to like absolutely everyone you’ll study/live with, you’ll be able to expand your horizons.
In fact, any clashing personalities or differences will cause you to find a way to solve your problems in the most peaceful ways possible. Because you all live there, you’ll see everyone way more often than you would in a traditional school and it will help you be prepared for an international and diverse future around people from all backgrounds.
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