In Praise of Boarding School

Since birth, I have had nine different mailing addresses, each with at least a year in duration – i.e., not counting temporary summer addresses and such.  Of these nine, five have been boarding school campuses.  All told, those five account for 54 of my 61 years on the planet.

My conclusion: boarding schools are wondrous places. For me, the three I grew up on were the stuff of kid’s paradise. The two I attended were transformative, each in their own unique ways. The two that have employed me have enriched my life in more ways than I could count. Finally, my wife and I could not have asked for a better place in which to raise children than the campus that permitted our three kids to enjoy the same joys and lessons experienced by their father in his days as a “fac brat.”

Given that such broad platitudes demand substantiation, here’s a Top 10 list of advantages uniquely offered by boarding schools:

1. The TEACHERS – Never again will you find yourself in a place with so many adult professionals utterly devoted to your future success and fulfillment.

2. The FRIENDSHIPS – You’ll wind up able to “couch surf” your way from coast-to-coast.  That’s due to the lifelong friendships you’ll gain from all over the country… make that all over the world.  You’ll go to their homes and make even more friends. They’ll go to yours and do the same.

3. The COLLEGE PREP – No other place will provide you with such a high level of intensive one-on-one college counseling advice, coaching, and support. College is all about the fit; and fit is all about one-on-one.

4. The UNDERWEAR – When you get to college, you won’t find yourself with blue underwear. (You will already know how to separate your darks and lights.) You’ll also know how to squeeze an extra day out of a shirt and wash your socks in a sink.

5.  The VAY CAYs – Let’s hear it for college-length vacations that give you real time to do something interesting or exciting! None of that lame 1-week-at-a-time stuff for you!

6.  The BABY-SITTING – If you don’t become a very good baby-sitter, you’ll wish you had. Not for the money – Heck, you do it for free! – but for the chance to chill in a faculty crib with a fridge full of food and your own private TV. (That is, of course, after the young ‘uns go to bed.)

7.  The RESILIENCE – You won’t be homesick in college because you’ve “been there/done that.”


8.  The ROLE MODELS – You’ll get to know your teachers and school staff members in a variety of ways – in the classroom, on the athletic field, in the dorm – even the ones who don’t directly teach or coach you.  You’ll also see them and their families living their lives as real people. They model; you watch. boarding 7

9.  The INGENUITY – You’ll learn how to turn a window sill into a refrigerator, wheel-and-deal with pizza delivery drivers, and turn post-study hall runs to the convenience store into profits in your pocket.

10. The EXTRA-CURRICULAR that is actually CO-CURRICULAR – You’ll try your hand at more activities than you would attempt in any other school setting. Some you’ll master. Some you might even do for the rest of your life for fun, profit, or both.

11. The FAMILY OXYMORON EXTRA: Go away to school; become closer with your family than you have ever been. The stereotype is the parent who doesn’t have time for the kid and sends him/her away. The reality is a renewed and strengthened bond among all family members. (And that’s especially true if you are fortunate enough to attend the school located at my current mailing address!)

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld