Boarding school is a unique life experience that can have a lasting effect on young people. There are a number of significant benefits that can arise from this experience – lifelong friendships; university preparedness; the development of valuable life skills, both household and financial.
But there is no doubting that boarding does not come without its difficulties. It is natural to feel anxious about living out of home for the first time and entering a whole new environment.
It is important to harness this energy and focus on getting the most out of boarding. This experience can be a very valuable one and offers a unique opportunity to grow, both academically and personally.
The first step to make the most of boarding school is to establish a close network of friends. We recommend:
- Look for people who have commenced boarding at the same time as you. The experience of going through orientation together will go a long way toward establishing a strong, shared bond.
- If you are seeking friendship with a particular person then be a friend to them. You can offer to help them with a task or house duty or include them in an activity.
- Be open and friendly – a smile and happy greeting will always be warmly received.
- Living in a shared environment can be challenging as individuals learn to live together. Be flexible about your own routines and learn how your fellow boarding mates like to live.
- Look for friends who share your own interests and seek out opportunities for you to participate in these activities together.
We have already touched on the importance of working out how to live in a harmonious group environment. This will be vital in your pursuit of a rewarding boarding experience. There are a number of practical tips for students to make the most of boarding school:
- Boarding school offers a chance to explore new opportunities and meet new people. If you adopt this attitude you will be open to a whole new world and learn how to see things from another person’s perspective. This is a valuable life skill that is vital for living in a global society.
- Make yourself at home in the boarding house. We recommend decorating your room in your own style and in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Photos, posters and pictures can offer a nice reminder of home and establish your room as your own.
- Work with your parents to establish a communication plan with home. Regular contact through Skype, Facetime, SMS or phone can reduce the feeling of remoteness and distance. We live in a connected society and the opportunities are endless.
- Listen to uplifting music or read books to relax and lift your mood.
- Involve yourself in plenty of extra-curricular activities to ensure your boarding experience is rich and fulfilling. Our boarding students benefit from a range of weekend and after school activities including sport, bush walking, beach activities (surfing, bodyboarding, swimming), community service initiatives, leadership and teamwork games. But activities do not need to be limited to the School programme. We encourage our boarding students to become involved in community activities as well.
- If you are unsure about anything … ask. Speak to boarding house staff about any anxieties or concerns as they happen.
- Follow boarding house rules and aspire to be a good example for other boarders. If everyone acts according to expectations life will run a lot more smoothly for all. The Boarding House Handbook outlines the School’s expectations and you should refer to it frequently.
- Start a budget to help you manage your funds while you are away from home.
- Boarders need organisation skills and should seek to demonstrate initiative, be self reliant and show humility and respect to their fellow house mates.
- Last but not least … seek friendship. We return to this point because it is important for boarders to make the most of their boarding experience. Friendship will be your most valuable tool in your boarder’s toolkit.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make the most of boarding school, download our Boarding House Handbook for more information.