Unlike the public day schools that are government funded and mandated, boarding schools are privately run establishments. Typically a student at a boarding school lives on campus in a dormitory environment. Tuition for boarding schools generally run about the same as college tuition and therefore limit their students to families that have the financial means to pay the expense. There are definite advantages to the private boarding school environment as well as some major disadvantages. Following are some of the pros and cons of boarding schools.
To the student’s advantage is the fact that boarding schools tend to have a much lower student to teacher ratio. With smaller classes there is a better chance of personal attention to help make better grades. With the need to occupy the student’s time that would otherwise be spent in a family environment, the boarding schools provide a greater selection of extra-curricular activities. As well as sports, many other interests are presented to the student.
The academic potential in a private boarding school is generally much higher and more varied than that found in the public day school system. For the highly motivated student, the accelerated courses that maybe found in the private boarding school can give them a much greater sense of both challenge and success.
Living so closely with other students for the majority of the year can help develop and strengthen friendships that can become as tight as blood ties. These friendship relationships can extend to faculty and staff members as well as fellow students. Students at boarding schools have to opportunity for more personal independence and self-reliance.
Conversely the very environment that can develop such independence and wide ranging educational opportunities has its disadvantages that must be weighed in any decision to have a child attend boarding school. The most telling problem is the long absence from the home and family environment. Not only is the student removed for most of the year from interaction with their immediate family, the ties of relationship to extended family like grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins is limited to nonexistent. The student will sublimate the need for family bonding with friendships developed in school.
There is also the potential problem for students who have problems dealing with firm structured institutional rules. With only a faculty and staff to care for the student body, there is much less room for the hyperactive or unruly child to express themselves in a boarding school environment. Deviations from the accepted norm of behavior are more quickly and harshly dealt with as compared to the public day school method of counseling.
With a private boarding school being more insular than a public or day school, the chances of developing wide-ranging social interaction is lessened. Boarding school students are not usually permitted such social outlets as the neighborhood game room, park, restaurant hangout or even part-time jobs. The lack of overall social interaction in the boarding school environment increases the feeling of separateness from the rest of the general populous that does not particularly develop in the public environment.