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What is Boarding School Like in the U.S.? 6 Things to Consider

what is boarding school like in america

What is boarding school like in America? It’s a fair question since popular movies and TV shows can give an impression that American boarding schools students’ lives are different from reality. We created this handy guide for students interested in learning about what a boarding school is like in the U.S. to answer their questions and confirm (or put to rest) any misconceptions.

What Is Boarding School Like in America?

Right off the bat, it’s important to note that just as elsewhere, boarding school in America, and especially Stuart Hall, is about academic excellence. This isn’t to say that in America boarding schools aren’t fun or that their students aren’t leading exciting lives; in fact, it’s quite the opposite! 

What makes boarding schools in America different from other schools is the support students receive through living on campus. Faculty and staff are present 24/7 and want to see students succeed. At Stuart Hall, dormitory parents are also your teachers, coaches and advisors, so you build close relationships with adults and students alike. 

Boarding Schools in the U.S. are A+ Places for Studies

Academics are a central part of life at boarding school. At Stuart Hall, we take this one step further, teaching students skills that will help them succeed in college and thrive in life. Our boarding students graduate independent, self-aware and highly competent by teaching students to apply knowledge content, not just memorize it for a test. At boarding schools in America, students usually have a support structure in place to help with their studies outside of normal class time. This is why “study hall” hours of varying lengths are often built into boarding school students’ schedules. During this time, students can catch up on or receive valuable help with homework or even just prepare for the next day’s classes. Stuart Hall students, for instance, have two hours of productive study hall each evening proctored by a learning specialist and knowledgeable upperclassmen. 

Not All Students Live Full-Time at School 

Many of the students you meet at a boarding school in the U.S. don’t actually live on-campus — they are “day students.” Day students are full members of a boarding school’s community in every sense of the word. 

Day students usually live near the boarding school itself. Their families will often open their homes and host students from other cities or countries for holidays or even just on weekends. In this way, day students and their families help boarding school students from around the world acclimate to life in the U.S. At Stuart Hall, for instance, boarding students often spend school breaks on holiday with day students, and day students often visit boarding students in their home countries during the summers or after graduation.

You Can Expect Something Extra(curricular) at Stuart Hall

Extracurricular activities are a part of Stuart Hall, particularly sports. Extracurriculars play a big role in the lives of many students, and life at a boarding school in America presents no exception to the rule.

One reason for this is that college and university admission officers tend to put a huge emphasis on what activities students were involved in outside of the classroom. College leaders believe having a well-rounded student body is a benefit for their current students and a draw for future students. 

Since university admissions officers are interested not just in where a student attended but what they did while in an American boarding school, students can expect the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of extracurricular activities. These activities include sports teams and other clubs. While participation in these clubs or sports is never mandatory, it is often enthusiastically encouraged. Plus, if there isn’t a club that suits your interest, you can often start your own!

Advisors Are There for You and Your Parents

Just like at the university level, in the U.S., boarding school students are assigned advisors that can help them with practically any aspect of their life at boarding school. These academic advisors often serve as a bridge between students and their instructors, helping smooth out any bumps. Often they assist students in choosing extracurricular opportunities that could help advance a student’s academic career (or just make them happier!). Most importantly, these advisors are also a contact point for students’ families, keeping parents informed every step of the way. At Stuart Hall, these advisors become trusted friends and are often the first person students and parents turn to for advice.

Boarding School Student Life Builds Independence

There is a lot more structure for boarding school students than those attending other schools. There are also advantages that better prepare them for life after graduation. At a boarding school in the U.S., students usually have mandatory “lights out” times, learn how to do their own laundry, and must keep their rooms clean. 

All this helps boarding school students build a sense of structure, independence, and responsibility earlier than students in other kinds of schools. This –– and the fact that, just like students at universities, students at boarding schools in America often live far away from home in dormitories with roommates –– better prepares them for this aspect of university life. Stuart Hall is even better equipped to help students gain independence because of our location in small town Staunton, Virginia. Students can check out with friends to go to coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques or  the cinema,

Boarding School Students Get Help With University Preparations 

Boarding schools in America, like boarding schools elsewhere, place special emphasis on helping their students get into top universities. While college may be far from the minds of American boarding students in younger grades, once students enter their junior and senior years (11th and 12th grade), it can feel like it becomes their life. 

Boarding school students and their advisors will usually consult with college counselors to help prepare students to apply for (and get into) their preferred universities. Some boarding schools, like Stuart Hall, will begin prepping students for important decisions related to their university applications as early as the 8th grade! This relieves much of the stress that comes from waiting too late to start exploring and preparing. 

What Boarding School at Stuart Hall Can Be for You

Hopefully, you have a better idea of what boarding school is like in America. Life at Stuart Hall has some similarities to boarding schools in other countries, but there are also aspects unique to American academics and culture. For students at boarding schools, life in America will be a rewarding experience –– no matter where you are from –– with memories and lessons inside and outside the classroom that will last forever.

If you are interested in learning more about boarding school life or are ready to enroll, consider Stuart Hall School. We welcome students from all over the world and are excited to help you transition into boarding school life. Don’t hesitate — APPLY TODAY.