10 Things to Know About Boarding School

Top Ten Tips You Should Know Before Your Teen Leaves For Boarding School

things you kneed to know about boarding school
Photo credit – D. Bhathena

Justin Muchnick, two-time author and a third year student at Phillips Academy Andover, shares with Ten to Twenty readers his tips for parents whose teens are leaving for boarding school. (Many of his ideas apply to families getting ready to leave for college, too!) At Andover, Justin volunteers as a campus tour guide and receives an abundance of inquiries from parents and teens alike, so he tried to distill many of his responses to frequently asked questions below. He hopes that these tips as well as the contents of his new book The Boarding School Survival Guide will help many teens and parents navigate this transition into a whole new world. So here are some words of advice from a teen to parents of teens.

1) Only let your son or daughter go away to boarding school if he or she really wants it for the right reasons. Sending you child off to boarding school as a punishment or because your child thinks it will be an extended camp experience are not good reasons

2) Don’t be worried that your teen isn’t under constant parental supervision at school, but definitely try to stay connected through text, Skype, phone calls, or email.

3) That said, cherish the time you spend over school breaks together. Breaks are good opportunities to “make up for lost time.”

4) Pack a small “first-aid kit” that includes Neosporin, band aids, Tylenol, Tums, and some throat lozenges. A few of these essential medical items can spare your teen an unnecessary trip to the infirmary.

5) To complement the medical kit, make sure to send your teen to school with some non-perishable snacks for late-night study sessions. Some dorm favorites include fruit leathers, microwavable noodles and mac and cheese, and granola bars.

6) Even if you are used to cheering on your child at every Little League game or musical theater production, don’t feel guilty about missing many sporting events or other extracurricular activities once your teen is in boarding school. Student bodies at boarding schools are incredibly supportive, and your teen will most likely have a few friends or even teachers on the sidelines or in the audience.

7) Teach your son or daughter the basics of laundry, personal finance, and efficient packing. These skills, however trivial they might seem, are important ones to master before leaving home.

8) Chances are, the boarding school your teen attends is one of the most, if not the very most, diverse communities he or she will be a part of. Be very excited about and open to this unique aspect of boarding school.

9) Never underestimate the power of a care package! Sometimes, receiving a little pick-me-up in the mail can really brighten up your teen’s day.

10) Finally be sure to pick up a copy of The Boarding School Survival Guide for additional insights, tips, and strategies about boarding school life, written by students for students (and parents, too!).


Justin Muchnick, author of The Boarding School Survival Guide Twitter  or Facebook


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