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Boarding or Traditional? Choosing The Right High School Experience For Your Teen

Public school is not the only option for your teenager. If you aren’t sure you want your child to attend the local high school, explore the alternatives. Private schools, charter schools, or homeschooling might be right for your son or daughter, depending on their personality and desires.

Another option is to send them to a boarding school. These are not as common as public schools are (at least in the United States), but they are worth looking into if your child is unsure about or struggling with high school.

Whether you choose to send your teenager to a traditional or top boarding school, here are a few things to keep in mind:


If you send your teenager to a boarding school, he or she will miss out on valuable family time. Boarding schools usually have strict regulations about when students can or can’t leave campus, and even on the weekends their freedom might be restricted unless they get permission to travel. Essentially, the only opportunities your child will have to spend time with your family are holidays and summer break.

However, if you want your teen to become more independent or live away from a difficult home situation, boarding school might be in their best interest.


Academics at boarding schools are widely thought to be of better quality than most public schools. One study done by The Association of Boarding Schools found that 54% of students who attended boarding schools found satisfaction in their academic experience compared to 40% of students who attended public school.

Generally speaking, boarding school students also feel that they are better prepared for college than most public school students.

Of course, many public school students excel academically, and many boarding school students struggle. In the end, it comes down to what kind of learning environment will allow your teen to blossom.

Boarding or Traditional? Choosing The Right High School Experience For Your Teen


Teachers at boarding schools take the role of mentor, and they are highly involved in their students’ lives. Most students are in boarding school because they want to be there, and the quality of teacher reflects that—most will have advanced degrees in their field. Teachers at boarding schools are focused on sending your children to college, not just getting them through high school.

Every public school will have the odd teacher that doesn’t quite do their job satisfactorily, but there will also be countless dedicated, loving teachers who care about your student. Boarding schools are typically more challenging than public schools, so if your child has a hard time with coursework, public school might be the better option. Unless it’s therapeutic, boarding school might be too challenging or stressful.


Both boarding schools and public schools offer extra-curricular activities. Your teen may have more of a chance to be involved while attending a boarding school, but he won’t suffer for options either way.

If your child is more focused on the fine arts, consider finding him or her a boarding school that focuses on the same. Public schools are more luck of the draw—some of them are more sports based, while others focus on academics or have strong fine arts programs. If your local public school has the programs your child is interested in, he might not need to go to a boarding school to become involved.

Free Time

Boarding schools will not offer the same amount of free time or free rein that public schools do. In some ways, this is an attractive quality—more extracurricular activities and stricter rules will leave less time for teens to get into trouble or waste time with video games or TV.

However, some teenagers might feel too restricted by the rules and rebel for the sake of personal freedom. It might also be hard for some to find time for pleasurable, wholesome activities like art, reading, or other hobbies due to extra-curricular or academic demands.


Be aware that boarding schools are more expensive than public schools. They can cost $2,000 to $6,000 or more per month. Many boarding schools offer financial aid or scholarships (contrary to public schools, which are free, of course), but they can still be difficult for middle-income families to afford.

Ultimately, what school is best for your child depends on their personality. Some children will thrive at a boarding school, whereas others will rise to the top of their class and graduate with honors from public school. There is no one right option for every child, so make sure that whatever school you choose fits your teenager’s ambitions, academic levels, strengths, and weaknesses.

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