Boarding school fosters independence and responsibility. When you are surrounded by teachers and classmates, helicopter parenting becomes a thing of the past. No one is asking you if you got your homework done, telling you to go to bed or asking you to come down for dinner. You're on your own much in the same way that you will be during college, putting boarding school students on a quicker path to maturity.
It's never easy to leave the nest. But, doesn't it make more sense to make the move a few years before college? Of course it does. You will learn how to cope with life and all its many high and low points within a community of your peers who are going through the same things you are. All of this is happening under the watchful eye of your teachers who are mentors, not baby-sitters.
Boarding school isn't always the academic haven perched on a grassy hill that you imagine (let's be honest, you're all picturing PCA from "Zoey 101"). According to The Guardian's Nick Duffell, a psychotherapist and former boarding school teacher, in Britain, boarding school is a rite of passage for those who can afford it–much to their detriment, in Duffell's opinion.
Leaving your family at an early age has a huge psychological impact, and Duffell believes that doing so leaves boarding school students emotionally stunted. Parents obviously hope for the best when they send their kids away for school, probably believing that a regretful separation will result in stronger academics and greater leadership potential for their kids. Yet, according to Duffell:
But it is less well known that costly, elite boarding consistently turns out people who appear much more competent than they actually are. They are particularly deficient in non-rational skills, such as those needed to sustain relationships, and are not, in fact, well-equipped to be leaders in today's world.
My studies show that children survive boarding by cutting off their feelings and constructing a defensively organized self that severely limits their later lives...Prematurely separated from home and family, from love and touch, they must speedily reinvent themselves as self-reliant pseudo-adults.
Classes at boarding schools can also be much smaller than what you might find at a traditional public school. The Boarding School Review continues:
If you are in a public school with 30-40 students to a class, chances are that you will just be a number...In a boarding school, on the other hand, classes typically are 10-15 students. You cannot hide in a class that small. You have to participate.
And according to Teen Life's Marie Schwartz, smaller classes and a tight-knit community might be what a student needs in order to succeed. For some, boarding school is just a better fit:
Even the best local public or private school may not be a good fit for your student. 'The public school was too large and the (local) private schools had too entitled an atmosphere,' one parent said.
According to author Dr. Meg Meeker, boarding schools are not worth the sacrifice for teens. She writes:
While some students may study harder, receive better instruction or be exposed to a greater breadth of academic studies, parents sacrifice enormous opportunities for their children’s psychological, spiritual and intellectual growth when they live separately.
Furthermore, although class size is certainly an issue in many schools, there are other ways for students and parents to supplement education that stop short of shipping students off to boarding school:
With advances in technology, most teens can access any academic materials they need in order to excel and succeed in college. Yes, they need good teachers but the truth is, there are many great teachers in private day schools, public schools and parochial schools.