Visit before you decide: Is boarding school right for your child?
Boarding schools provide students with the unique opportunity to receive a holistic education. However, choosing the perfect one for your child can be difficult. If international boarding schools are on your list, make the transition easier for you and your child by visiting some of the schools as a family. Here are a few points to keep in mind when you’re on campus.
1) Take a student-led tour:
In this tour, a current student of the school will take you around the campus. A student-led tour not only allows you to see the school from a different perspective, but it also helps you learn what current students enjoy and what changes they would like to see. When one of our counsellors went on a campus tour at Charterhouse School in Surrey, England, he was greeted by a tour guide who happened to be an Indian student in his final year at the school. Listening to and learning more about his transition from India to the UK allowed our counsellor to understand the school and the resources it provides for students. At every location on campus, he shared personal anecdotes of his experiences. This highly personal tour can help your child feel a deeper connection to campus and give you a taste of the student experience.
2) Meet with the admissions officer:
Most boarding schools will not have a group information session, but if you plan your visit in advance, one of the admissions officers will sit with your family and go through the admissions process and answer your questions. Ask questions related to the admission process and the resources they have in place to ease the transition for international students. For example, some schools like Charterhouse School have exeat weekends when students can leave campus and stay with a host family in London or visit their own families, making the adjustment easier.
3) Ask about extra-curricular activities:
A campus visit is also a great time to ask about the resources and opportunities available to students outside the classroom that will contribute to your child’s holistic education. At the Phillip’s Exeter Academy, for example, one of the oldest secondary schools in New Hampshire, US, students have a host of activities to choose from including performances by Grammy Award-winners, slam poetry events and sessions with Pulitzer Prize-winning speakers. In the UK, King’s College Saint Michaels provides an array of extra-curricular activities, ranging from sports and fitness such as yoga and boot camp to student societies such as English-speaking classes, Japanese club, Chinese club and more—giving everyone the chance to spend their time productively.
4) Talk to a teacher or faculty member:
To get a better sense of the academic challenges your child will have to face and the style of learning, speak to a teacher or a faculty member. A faculty member can also give you insights into the class size and how they can cater to your child’s abilities. At San Domenico School, California, small class sizes of 15-16 students and designated staff tutors to every pupil ensure focused individual attention. Students in the upper school also get help with their college preparations and applications.
5) Get a taste of campus life:
Many schools will not allow students to stay the night at a student boarding house, but if the one you visit offers this, you should certainly consider it. Also, while you’re there, try and get a meal in the dining hall to get a better idea of the food options available.
6) Check the location and weather:
Finally, it is imperative that you check if your child is comfortable with the weather where the school is located. After all, this will be their new home in the coming years. Also, walk through the surrounding town and get a good sense of what your child can experience outside the campus.
The most important thing to look out for during your visit to a school is to see how your child feels about it. If you are still looking for more information about boarding schools, read about why it is a great option for parents seeking holistic education. If you need help in selecting where to send your child, then get in touch with us.