While the concept of a “boarding school” is familiar to most people: it is quite simply a school where pupils don’t only study, but where they also live. And yet, there are so many stereotypes associated with boarding schools which are simply not true (or at least not true for EF Academy Oxford). Therefore, the best way to explain what a boarding school is all about is not to try to define it, but to establish what it is not — according to my personal experience, of course. A boarding school is NOT necessarily…
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.
A place for troubled kids
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, and I haven’t really done anything bad. The reason why I came to a boarding school is because I wanted to receive a better education than I could have in my home country, and experience a truly international environment.
Where irresponsible parents send their unwanted children
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 that 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.
A religious school
At least in Brazil, there is the stereotype that a boarding school is always Christian, but that is not always true. Especially at EF Academy, which is international, there are people from different religions and that is one of the things that makes my experience here so rich and interesting.
What are the benefits of studying at a boarding school?
1. You 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 bed sheets, 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.
2. You learn how to “deal” with people
Well, let’s be honest: even though you will make lots of amazing friends at boarding school, it is impossible for you to like absolutely everyone who you study/live with. But you will have to deal with it, either by finding a way to solve your problems in the most peaceful way possible or just by ignoring whatever attitudes you may dislike/disagree with, as you will have to see those people around campus way more often than you would in a traditional school. This might sound like a terrible thing, but in fact, it isn’t: throughout your professional life it is also highly likely that you will have to work with people who you don’t necessarily get along with, and boarding school will probably prepare for that as well.
3. 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.
4. 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.