The Search Process: Boarding Schools vs. Day Schools

Recently The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) published an infographic about how boarding schools stack up against private day schools and public schools in a variety of areas. Click here for the infographic. I went to public school and then boarding school. Professionally, I have worked in both private day schools and boarding schools. I found the infographic to be accurate to my experience, and it made me reflect a bit on differences in private day schools and boarding schools.

During one of our faculty orientation meetings this year we were discussing our residential life program. A faculty member remarked “What happens outside the classroom is often more important than what happens inside the classroom.” This concept of looking at our students in the context of a whole picture is what makes the boarding school experience so powerful. We all know the teacher at day schools who is excellent in the classroom and very popular with the students because she also coaches the varsity soccer team. Or the science teacher who ends up writing letters of recommendations for students he never had in the classroom, but coached on the robotics team. EVERY teacher at a boarding school knows their students outside the classroom. Creating these relationships is not unique, but part of the expectation of both faculty and student.

When a student commits to a boarding school education, he or she commits to the community. The community commits back! Your math teacher is your dorm parent, which logistically makes extra help easy. However, your math teacher also knows first-hand how much time students are spending on all homework. Excellent faculty at day schools communicate homework expectations to each other and to their students. Boarding school faculty live nightly homework management with their students. In addition, students see the faculty in the dorm, working on lesson plans and grading papers. A trust is developed between both sides as they are working hard to create the best educational experience.

The ability for students and faculty to share this experience leads to more informed choices by the entire community to maximize the opportunity for each individual student. By having time to reflect on education with teachers at dinner, students can be active contributors to the learning process. This mutual investment pays dividends for both sides. A good student can succeed in most academic settings. However, learning with like minded peers and invested faculty creates a unique environment. Having multiple adults invested in my education, both in and out of the classroom, gave me great confidence as I moved to college. At the age of 15 the idea of being a lifelong learner may have sounded corny. At the age of 38, I look at how I benefitted from my experience and plan to pay it forward to our current students.

—Sarah Catlin
Director of Financial Aid
Associate Director of Admission