Adjusting to Boarding School Life: 5 Tips from Hun Proctors

By Maureen Leming

It’s no secret that boarding schools provide exceptional academic opportunities and student advantages. Yet what happens beyond the classroom – the connections, the activities, the support, and the overall sense of community – is just as crucial to the boarding school experience.

This sense of close-knit living and learning can make new boarding school students worried about finding their fit within an established community. New boarders may wonder, “Will I fit in? What will it be like adjusting to boarding school life? Will I enjoy boarding school culture?”

While new-school jitters are common in any learning environment, students considering life at boarding school should rest assured that boarding schools are prepared to ease any concerns and make the new-student transition seamless.

The Hun School of Princeton, for example, has created a boarding school culture that helps students find their fit quickly thanks to programs and activities like an extra help period, a resident coaching program, a plethora of extracurricular clubs, exciting daily events, and regular study hall hours with peer tutors.

In addition, Hun School appoints proctors – juniors and seniors who help to create a positive boarding school social life, check in on new or younger students, and plan community events.

Hun School students Nia O. ‘23 and Oliver Z. ‘23 became proctors specifically to ensure that all incoming students find their home away from home.

“A proctor plays a huge role in this because they are students who go through the same experiences as everyone else, so they can make sure everyone is comfortable,” Oliver said.

Nia agreed. “I decided to become a proctor because I wanted to make sure that people felt safe and welcome in the boarding community,” she said. The important thing to remember, said Nia, is that everyone belongs and there’s a unique place for each student. 

So how do you find your fit in a boarding school community? Here are five tips from the Hun proctors themselves: 

#1: Join a club.

“The best way to get involved in the community is by joining clubs that sound interesting, or even by creating a new club. It’s a great way to meet people you might not know that have similar interests,” Nia said.

Boarding schools like The Hun School offer a huge variety of clubs and activities, which gives students the ideal opportunity to discover or further an interest or hobby outside of academics. At Hun, current clubs range from debate and community service to Lego League, gardening, and many more. And if you can’t find one that intrigues you, you can start your own!

#2: Attend campus events.

By participating in specially planned events, new boarding school students can get to know their classmates, show support for the school, and explore their interests without committing to a long-term activity.

“I think the best way to be involved in the Hun community is to attend the weekend activities,” Oliver said. “Make sure to go to the events that the student government plans because this allows you to bond with other students.”

"When I was a teenager, I began to settle into school because I'd discovered the extracurricular activities that interested me: music and theater."

Morgan Freeman - Academy Award Winning Actor

#3: Participate in extracurricular activities.

Getting involved in athletics, health and wellness classes, cultural programs, service learning, or other student activities will help you meet others and learn new skills. At The Hun School, in particular, teachers and students truly encourage each other to try new things and explore emerging interests.

“As scary as it might be, try as many things as possible because you never know where they’ll lead you,” Nia suggested.

#4: Take the initiative!

Depending on your personality, it may feel daunting to initiate conversations with other students — but you’ll likely find that other new boarding school students are just as open to making friends.

“Looking back, I would tell myself on the first day of school to keep going out of my comfort zone. I know it can feel quite intimidating, but it’s where the most growth happens. That’s how I met my current friends,” Nia said.

This includes people outside your peer group as well. “Make sure to work hard and don’t be afraid to speak to people because it can only benefit you; sometimes even the teachers might be the right people to talk to,” said Oliver.

#5: Explore the local landscape.

When you live at your school, your learning extends far beyond the classroom. Take every opportunity to explore the surrounding community for the chance to experience something new and to get to know your classmates in a different setting.

The Hun School’s location within a college city means that there are fascinating excursions and activities right in our backyard. Princeton University constantly hosts unique events, lectures, arts, and athletics competitions. In Princeton, Hun students can catch a show at the acclaimed McCarter Theatre or enjoy world-class museums, festivals, and local restaurants. Beyond that, Hun is less than an hour from the unlimited options found in Philadelphia, New York City, and the New Jersey coast.

Did You Know?

The Princeton Dinky connects downtown Princeton, NJ, with Princeton Junction Train Station. The Dinky is a 5-minute ride, runs seven days a week, and is timed to connect with Northeast Corridor trains. The Northeast Corridor is the train superhighway connecting Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

Finding your fit in a boarding school community can seem overwhelming – but remember that if you’re ever struggling to adjust, someone will always be available to help. 

Nia encourages new boarding students to share any concerns with a faculty member or a student leader and to take advantage of offerings such as evening-hours one-on-one tutoring and faculty mentorship, leadership training, and mental health counseling.

"Our faculty and leaders truly care about you as a person, not just as a student or athlete,” Nia said. “Additionally, proctors and other student leaders are good people to go to as we really do want to help. Proctors are like the older siblings of the boarding community: we bridge the gap between dorm parents and other students, and we help people get acclimated to living on campus.

Wondering if a boarding high school is right for you? Plan your visit to The Hun School to experience our community and culture – and to talk to current students like Nia and Oliver for valuable insights into adjusting to boarding school life. Visit our Admissions page to learn how to apply, or contact us at (609) 921-7600 or for more information.