Summer programs, generally taken one or two summers prior to enrollment, enable parents and students to get a taste of the boarding school experience.
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If you’re starting boarding school this fall – Congratulations! – you’re probably really excited and already packing or wondering what to take. Your school is likely to provide you a comprehensive list of what will be in your room, what you need to bring, what you might like to bring and what you are not allowed to bring. Follow this list. They know what they’re talking about and the list is specific to your school. Take special note of electronics. Are you allowed to bring tablets, ipads, kindles and desktops, only laptops, or no computer at all? What are the school’s rules about cell phone use? Which cell phone carrier has the best service on campus? Do you need to switch?
The school’s list and any additional answers you get will guide you well, so let’s consider some ways to think about packing for the first time, and go over a few “life-saving” hints.
Remember SchoolHouse Rock? “Conjunction – Junction, what’s your function?” If you are too young, it’s worth a Google. I loved it and learned plenty about “Hooking up words, and phrases and clauses…” But another thing that always stuck in my mind was one of the American History skits in which the only woman was Betsy Ross sewing an American Flag. I thought, at the tender age of eight or nine, “Well, my Mom and I don’t sew, so we will never be part of American History.” I now recognize of course, that that does not “make sense” but I have recently come to understand the dynamics that would create that kind of impression, especially in a learning context.
At this year’s TABS/NAIS Global Symposium, Andrew Watson of Translate the Brain, TranslateTheBrain.com presented a fascinating session on Stereotype Threat. He detailed consequences, how “ST” functions and offered strategies to defuse Stereotype Threat in the boarding school environment. What is the threat? For boarding schools in particular, Stereotype Threat impairs learning capacity and erodes community. I have been thinking about it ever since Global and spoke with Andrew to get deeper into the subject. Read more ›
Growing up in Mexico, I thought I would be too homesick to attend school abroad. Luckily for me, my cousin – who admittedly had more foresight than I at the time – attended a Culver Academies summer camp, nestled alongside Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver, Indiana. Describing his experience, his words were pretty powerful: “It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had,” he said. His experience opened my mind to the idea of going to boarding school abroad, so I began to do my own research.
I based my school search on the specific criteria that are important to me: a strong football program, co-ed student mix and competitive tuition. The more I looked into a potential boarding school experience, the more excited I was to start something new—a chance to meet new people, experience different cultures and prove myself in football. Read more ›
In the spring of 1984, my parents received a letter giving me the opportunity to opt out of attending Choate Rosemary Hall and receive help getting admitted to another boarding school for my freshman year.
The events that precipitated this letter were singular and startling, and are told through a specific point of view in the recently released movie, The Preppie Connection. A POV that I don’t find startling or singular, but which has inspired some animated discussion amongst many of us who attended Choate around that time.
On April 23 of 1984, two Choate students had been arrested at JFK International Airport for the possession of 350 grams of uncut cocaine they (allegedly, at the time) smuggled in from Venezuela. A devastating blow, mind the puns, to an almost 100 year old school that boasts the education of JFK himself, as well as Edward Albee, Adlai Stevenson, Glenn Close and thousands upon thousands of successful graduates. The story would be featured on 60 Minutes with Ed Bradley in the fall. The school was juggling devastating press, internal and external investigations, disciplinary actions, new policy decisions, and not least on its mind was its students – current and incoming. The school was dedicated to our futures even if it meant giving us up.
I was the googly-eyed 13 year old you’d be terrified to send into a hotbed of temptation, bad influences and international crime. But that wasn’t where I was going. I was going to the place I liked best – and of course I still wanted to go! Picking a boarding school wasn’t easy, but after narrowing down the specific offerings that were best for me, I was stuck on them, and I couldn’t wait. Regarding the cocaine scandal, I didn’t know the difference. People are doing whatever they’re doing. My family felt confident in the school and how they were handling such a complex situation. Read more ›
“Cheddar, Swiss, American – I never knew Americans ate so many dairy products – so many kinds of cheese! I didn’t know what was what!” laughs an East Asian student talking about her first year at boarding school in the United States. The video of this student and several others was presented at one of the Pre-Symposium Sessions at the TABS/NAIS Global Symposium earlier this month in Long Beach, California.
Having recently joined the TABS team, I was delighted to attend, and delighted again and again as I saw a combustion of sharing and exchange ignite before me. Coming from the private sector, I am accustomed to the guarding of trade secrets or the measured release of information, and found the unreserved openness and clear priority to reveal solutions, no matter who’s using them, to be truly inspiring. It filled me with hope – and solace really – for the current and future generations of young people who are served by these educators. While the US presidential election is going bonkers, the educators I saw were working together to promote productive inquiry, generate paths to empathy, and expand creativity and invention by including different perspectives. Attendees were from schools that often compete for the same students, but the dedication of these educators to provide the best for students — together — was the ethos of the symposium.
Currently many boarding schools have up to 20% international enrollment with the majority of students coming from China and South Korea. At the same time, acceleration of diversity within the United States is galloping forward. Featured Speaker Dana Mortenson of World Savvy cited statistics that project the US population will be 47% white by 2050, down from 88% in 1970, and that school age children are already at this percentage. In addition to economic, political and climate factors that are bringing our world together, the classroom is becoming the new melting pot. Mortenson, sponsored as Featured Speaker by Shanghai OvEdu Consulting, kicked off the Symposium with questions like – what should the future of learning look like? The Global Symposium is designed to find working solutions to just that, and to address innumerable intricate nuances and unpredictable challenges that spill out as if from an over-stuffed suitcase. Read more ›
We stumbled upon a great blog post yesterday on PopSugar—Everything You Need to Know About Sending Your Child to Boarding School. Author Eleanor Sheehan is a boarding school graduate and provides 8 reasons why boarding school was a “positive choice” for her. In her words:
As a boarding school graduate, a mom, and someone who works in the industry, I read her piece nodding my head in agreement to most of her thoughts. She touches on some big selling points of the boarding school option including structure, top-rate academics, the forging of lifelong friendships and mentors, and learning to thrive and survive in order to prepare for the world outside of the boarding school bubble (namely…college and life).
But she also makes two excellent points in her introductory paragraphs that I wish more folks knew.
What was your experience?
I started Boarding School at age 13. My Mother was in finance and her big company had a toll free 800 number which allowed me to call from anywhere at no charge on my end. As long as I didn’t have class and she didn’t have a client in front of her, we could talk forever.
There was also this thing called a pay phone – it wasn’t a pre-paid mobile device. It was a large rectangular box with a handset, shaped sort of like a banana with a round part to talk through on one end and another round part to listen through on the other. Roughly twice the size of the iPhone 6. You held it in the middle. The handset was connected by a thick armored cord to the rectangular box that had a raised key pad and a slot into which you put dimes – a small round metal currency – later quarters. The contraption was usually mounted to a wall and sometimes in a small closet for privacy. (Long ago, there were things called phone booths which were free-standing vertical closets with windows and a pay phone inside. These were an excellent place – if you happened to be from outer space and your average skill set turned out to be supernatural on this planet – to rip open your button down oxford, shake off your glasses and emerge faster than a speeding bullet into the sky with your cape billowing behind you.)
For me, I simply used the pay phone. With the 800 number, no coinage needed. That thick armored cord was my umbilical cord.
I didn’t really miss home. I was up for the adventure. But so many things happened every day at boarding school that I felt my mother needed to know about all of them. There were a million things to say. Things she didn’t even understand like why we had to play The Ramones before going to the Saturday night dance instead of The Rolling Stones because we were all wearing striped socks like in Rock n Roll High School or that the variable that isn’t squared will determine which direction a parabola will open up on the xyz axis. But she knew about a lot of stuff – obviously – and she listened.
I got in trouble my first month at school for talking too loudly – and after hours – on the basement pay phone to my Mom. To my Mom!! How can you get in trouble for talking to your Mom!?
The phone was right under the dorm mother’s apartment. Check. But which Mom was in charge here? Read more ›
According to Weather.com, the United States has experienced its warmest winter on record. This has us thinking ahead to our student’s plans for their approaching respite from academia before diving into college apps: summer vacation.
Every year we hear from parents seeking our input on what their children should do during summer vacation to “make their applications look better” or to make them a “stronger applicant.” While it’s true that the summer months are a great time to do SOMETHING, the question is whether what that something is really matters on your college applications.
Is a student who’s participated in a one-month robotics camp at a hot shot university more impressive to admission folks than the one who worked 40 hours a week scooping ice cream during their break? Or how about the student who joins their family on a month long backpacking trip through Europe versus one who volunteers at a local assisted living center reading to the residents each day? In a head-to-head battle for that coveted last spot in the freshman class, which of these summer choices could be the one to seal the deal on getting the fat envelope?
The answer? It depends.
Recently, the responses of independent schools to reports of past abuse of students by faculty have received intense scrutiny by the news media, social media, survivors, victim’s lawyers and alumni. Why is this happening now?
I believe we are in a period of cultural change in which there is a convergence of attitudes and expectations relating to sexual abuse of students, without regard to when it occurred or whether the abuser was an adult or another student. Attitudes and expectations about the extent and nature of sexual abuse of students have evolved dramatically and swiftly in the past few years, spurred by the federal government’s focus on Title IX violations in colleges and universities. Students, parents, alumni and the media now see student sexual assault in colleges as a systemic issue, rather than a school-by-school issue. Victims have formed survivor groups to provide support and advocacy. Prevention efforts have proliferated and have received bi-partisan support locally and nationally.
Starting a few years ago, recent graduates who were going through Title IX orientations at their new colleges began sharing what they learned with their friends still in prep schools. Soon, attitudes and expectations around the issues relating to student sexual assault had spread from colleges to independent schools. A substantial increase in reports of sexual assaults in independent schools followed. Subsequently, independent schools have strengthened their policies on sexual misconduct and significantly expanded their prevention and education efforts. Read more ›