Myths About Boarding School

Top 12 Myths About Boarding Schools

By Maureen Leming

Does the idea of boarding school bring to mind games of Quidditch on the quad or midnight feasts in the commons? Books and movies like "The Catcher in the Rye," "Dead Poets Society," and even "Harry Potter" have contributed to many myths about boarding school, from the mystical to the mundane. But what is it really like to go to a boarding school in the twenty-first century?

Boarding School Myths — Debunked!

Wondering what a boarding school is like in the real world? We've busted the top 12 most common myths — spoiler alert, most of them are based on popular media. Who knew movies could be such an unreliable source? Take a look and see if, once the truths are uncovered, a college preparatory boarding school might be the right fit for you.

MYTH #1: Diversity Is Rare at Boarding Schools.

FACT: Many boarding schools are more diverse than private day or public schools, because they attract students from around the country and the world. At a boarding school, you’re likely to meet and share life with students from different cultures and backgrounds, providing valuable experiences you wouldn’t find at other schools. For example, The Hun School of Princeton works to champion cultural competency for all community members through classroom programming and campus events.

MYTH #2: Boarding School Is Stuffy, and the Teachers Are Unfriendly

FACT: Ask any student who's lived at boarding school — Teachers can become parental figures and even friends! Teachers and administrators are committed to creating a supportive, well-balanced environment. Boarding school teachers stand out for their advanced degrees and dedication to each individual student.

Many faculty members even live on campus, acting as dorm parents and mentors who are easy to come to with personal concerns. At Hun, our boarding support team is known to check in on students throughout the week — and more importantly, they're also known for their delicious homemade treats.

MYTH #3: Students Have to Wear Uniforms Every Day.

FACT: Gone are the days when going to boarding school meant wearing scratchy, ill-fitting uniforms. Each boarding school has its own unique culture and traditions when it comes to dress code and level of formality. Before you commit to any school, you should visit the campus and learn what life there looks like.

MYTH #4: Boarding Schools Are Located in the Middle of Nowhere.

FACT: Boarding schools aren't relegated to the countryside! In fact, there are many options that are close to metropolitan areas — especially on the East Coast — like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. This lets students take part in immersion learning experiences, applying classroom learning to real-world issues. The Hun School of Princeton, for example, is just 1.5 miles from downtown Princeton and Princeton University, 45 miles from Philadelphia, and 55 miles from New York City. Each of these cities offer students the chance to explore the world as their playground and classroom.

MYTH #5: It's Hard for Day Students and Boarders to Become Close Friends.

FACT: The tight-knit community at a boarding school ensures both day students and boarders feel like part of the family. We know social growth is an important part of school, so we make sure there are a plethora of opportunities for boarders to befriend day students. From class interactions to the playing field, it's easy to make friends here. Plus, many boarding schools strive to involve day students in weekend and residential life activities.

MYTH #6: Classes at Boarding Schools Are Notoriously Difficult and Overwhelming.

FACT: We've all heard the classic warning: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." No one wants that life for Jack. Many boarding schools aim to teach students just as much outside of the classroom as they do inside through an emphasis on personal pursuits like sports, clubs, the arts, family, and community service.

For example, The Hun School cultivates joyful and vigorous learning by combining the essential skills of a college preparatory education with experiential learning.

MYTH #7: Most Boarding Schools Don't Offer Fun Activities, Athletics, or Free Time.

FACT: Challenging academics that stretch the mind and prepare students for college is only one part of the boarding school experience. At Hun, your on-campus activity pool will overflow with a smorgasbord of fun options, from clubs and organizations to sports teams and performing arts opportunities. With only 24 hours in a day, the real challenge will be picking which ones you spend your time on. During weekends and evenings, you can spend free time with your friends, enjoy dorm events or participate in on-campus activities.

And don't worry — there are plenty of opportunities for fun off-campus as well! Our boarding students can join a healthy menu of off-campus weekend excursions at no added cost. There are trips to lunch and dinner in Princeton, yoga, trampoline parks, sporting events, concerts and plays, cultural events – you name it. And if there’s an event that students want to go to, they can ask! Hun, unlike many boarding schools, doesn’t have Saturday classes, leaving students with more time to unwind, participate in Resident Life weekend activities, or finally finish watching all of the seasons of The Office (although we think you’ll find too many other things to do).

MYTH #8: Students Are Forced to Attend Boarding School.

FACT: No one comes to boarding school pulled in by one ear — it takes a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication to join a college preparatory boarding school. They're for driven students who want more out of their high school education. These students are motivated, mature, and have usually done well at their previous schools and at home. Boarding school therefore is the perfect opportunity for any student looking to encounter new challenges and stretch themselves as a person.

MYTH #9: Boarding Schools Are Only for the Wealthy.

FACT:There's no one-size-fits-all price tag for attending boarding school. If you take a peek into the average boarding school, you'll find a diverse student body full of every socioeconomic status under the sun, largely because most boarding schools offer financial aid and scholarships. In fact, one-third of boarding school students receive need-based financial aid. It's not unrealistic anymore to afford a boarding school education.

MYTH #10: It's Difficult to Keep in Touch With Family While Attending Boarding School.

FACT: Whether your family lives a few miles away or in a different hemisphere, you won't be short on ways to stay connected. Different time zones might call for some bonus creativity when it comes to choosing phone call times, but most dorm rooms will have internet connection and cell phone reception.

Most boarding schools also have Parents’ Weekends and academic calendars that include breaks for home visits. Parents who live nearby can make regular trips to campus to cheer on the sports teams, watch school productions, or slip in not-so-subtle reminders about dorm room cleanliness.

MYTH #11: Attending Boarding School Will Guarantee That I'm Accepted Into an Ivy League University.

FACT: At any school — private, boarding, or public — there are no guarantees of acceptance into your dream university. It's what you do while you're in high school that helps determine whether you get into competitive colleges. Many boarding schools do offer college counseling programs to help students navigate the admissions process for Ivy League universities and otherwise.

Other boarding schools, such as The Hun School, offer AP classes and unique opportunities you may not find at a public school. For example, a CAD class can help you gain valuable experience in your desired field, such as how to design and print a 3D drone. Our biotechnology students even work with graduate students at Rutgers University and use the Worldwide Protein Data Bank to synthesize protein sequences and make discoveries that scientists can use for all kinds of goals, such as finding new disease treatments.

The Hun School also allows students to take advantage of NextTerm — a credited, three-week course where they study a real-world topic affecting a community.

MYTH #12: You Won't Have Any Free Time at Boarding School.

FACT: Well, actually — this myth rings true! After waking up, you’ll have to head to breakfast. Are you going to make a waffle or go with one of the prepared hot sandwiches? Then, you’ll have a full day of classes before heading to the athletic fields or theatre for practice. Once you finish, you’ll hit the dining hall again for dinner before settling in for the evening study hall.

Finally, you’ll poke around to see if any of the dorm parents made homemade treats (Mrs. Poller’s cookies are said to be the best around!) before spending some quality time with friends and returning to your dorm room for the night. On the weekends, you’ll have a menu of fun options to choose from, including off-campus trips and on-campus activities. This is one myth that's no lie — you won’t have any time to sit around and be bored in boarding school!

What Is a Boarding School Like?

So, what can you expect in a boarding school? A boarding school education nurtures independence, character, and the skills needed to thrive in college and in a changing world. Sadly, there are no Yule Balls or Quidditch tournaments included. But you can expect innovative college prep academics paired with endless opportunities for social, emotional, and personal growth. If you are interested in high-powered academics, having the flexibility to explore your passions, and fostering connections with other students, boarding school may be the place for you.

Discover the World at The Hun School

Located on 45 beautiful acres in Princeton, NJ, The Hun School serves both day and boarding students with skills-based, student-centered education within a joyful community of learners. Hun students become active global citizens and create a collaborative, supportive atmosphere for everyone in the Hun community.

Ready to discover what life is like at Hun? Learn more by requesting more information or scheduling a campus tour today.

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