For many families, choosing between a day school and boarding school for their child’s education can be a difficult decision. If you’ve wondered, “What are boarding schools really like? “, this comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the boarding school experience.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Boarding schools provide students with a highly structured living and learning environment that emphasizes academics, extracurricular activities, and personal development. Students live on campus full-time and are closely supervised by faculty.

Boarding schools foster independence, discipline, community, and lifelong friendships.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover the pros and cons of boarding school life, typical daily schedules, popular extracurriculars, dorm life, costs and financial aid, famous alumni, and much more. Whether you’re a prospective student or curious parent, read on to learn all about the ins and outs of boarding school living.

The Pros and Cons of Attending Boarding School

Pros of Boarding School Life

Boarding schools offer a unique educational experience that comes with several benefits. One of the key advantages is the opportunity for students to develop independence and self-discipline. Living away from home teaches them how to take care of themselves, manage their time effectively, and make responsible decisions.

This prepares them well for the challenges they will face in college and beyond.

Furthermore, boarding schools often provide a highly structured and rigorous academic environment. With smaller class sizes and dedicated faculty, students receive personalized attention and are encouraged to excel academically.

This focus on education helps students develop strong study habits and achieve academic success.

Another advantage of boarding school life is the diverse and inclusive community it offers. Students from different backgrounds and cultures come together, fostering an environment of acceptance and understanding.

This exposure to diversity broadens students’ perspectives and prepares them to thrive in a global society.

Additionally, boarding schools often provide a wide range of extracurricular activities and sports programs. Students have the opportunity to explore their interests and passions outside the classroom, whether it be in arts, sports, music, or other hobbies.

This holistic approach to education helps students develop well-rounded personalities and discover their true potential.

Cons of Boarding School Life

While there are many benefits to attending a boarding school, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks as well.

One of the primary concerns for some students and parents is the lack of family and home support. Living away from home can be challenging, especially for younger students who may experience homesickness or feelings of isolation.

It is crucial for students to have a strong support system in place to help them navigate these emotions.

Another drawback of boarding school life is the cost. Boarding schools often come with a hefty price tag, which may not be affordable for everyone. It is essential for families to carefully consider their financial situation before deciding to enroll their child in a boarding school.

Lastly, some students may find the strict rules and regulations of boarding schools to be restrictive. The structured environment and lack of freedom can be seen as a disadvantage for those who value independence and autonomy.

It is important for students to assess their own personality and preferences before committing to a boarding school.

A Day in the Life at Boarding School

Morning Routines

Boarding schools have a structured daily routine that helps students develop discipline and time management skills. Mornings typically start early, with students waking up and getting ready for the day.

They may have a set time for breakfast, either in the dining hall or in smaller groups in their dorms. This allows students to socialize and fuel up for the day ahead. Many boarding schools also have morning assembly or chapel services, where students gather for announcements, prayers, or inspiring talks.

Classes and Academics

Boarding schools prioritize academic excellence and offer a rigorous curriculum. Students attend classes throughout the day, with breaks for lunch and study periods. Class sizes are often small, allowing for more personalized attention from teachers.

Boarding schools also provide a wide range of extracurricular activities, including sports, arts, and clubs, to foster holistic development. Some boarding schools may have specialized programs, such as STEM or performing arts, to cater to students’ interests and talents.

Afternoon Activities

After the academic day, boarding school students engage in various afternoon activities. These can include sports practices, rehearsals for musical performances or theater productions, art classes, or community service projects.

Boarding schools understand the importance of balance and encourage students to explore their passions and develop new skills outside of the classroom. These activities also offer opportunities for students to bond with their peers and build lasting friendships.

Evenings in the Dorms

Evenings in boarding school dorms are a time for relaxation and socializing. Students typically have designated study hours to complete homework and prepare for the next day’s classes. Dormitories often have common areas where students can gather to watch movies, play games, or simply hang out and chat.

Some boarding schools organize evening events or clubs for students to participate in, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among the residents.

Popular Extracurriculars at Boarding Schools


Athletics play a significant role in the lives of students at boarding schools. These schools often have state-of-the-art sports facilities and offer a wide range of sports teams and activities. From traditional sports like soccer, basketball, and tennis to niche sports like rowing or equestrian, boarding schools provide ample opportunities for students to participate in competitive sports.

Not only does participation in athletics promote physical fitness, but it also teaches valuable life skills such as teamwork, discipline, and perseverance. Many boarding schools have a strong emphasis on sports and offer scholarships to talented athletes.

Arts and Music

Boarding schools also place a great emphasis on arts and music programs, providing students with a well-rounded education. These schools typically have impressive facilities, including art studios, music rooms, and theaters.

Students can explore their creative passions through activities such as painting, sculpture, photography, choir, orchestra, and theater productions. Many boarding schools have renowned arts programs and offer specialized courses for those interested in pursuing a career in the arts.

These extracurricular activities not only allow students to express themselves creatively but also foster collaboration and self-confidence.

Clubs and Organizations

Boarding schools offer a wide variety of clubs and organizations to cater to the diverse interests of their students. Whether it’s a debate club, a robotics team, a community service group, or a cultural club, there is something for everyone.

These clubs provide students with the opportunity to pursue their passions, develop leadership skills, and connect with like-minded individuals. They also serve as a platform for students to engage in meaningful activities outside of the classroom and make a positive impact in their community.

Joining clubs and organizations at boarding schools helps students develop a sense of belonging and fosters personal growth.

Life in Boarding School Dorms

Boarding school dorms provide a unique living experience for students, offering a blend of independence and community. Here’s what life in the dorms is like:

Roommates and Social Life

One of the most exciting aspects of living in a boarding school dorm is the opportunity to have a roommate. Roommates can become lifelong friends, sharing experiences, studying together, and providing support.

The diversity of roommates fosters a sense of inclusivity, as students learn to respect each other’s differences and develop important social skills. With shared living spaces, students constantly interact and form close bonds with their dormmates, creating a strong sense of community.

Dorm Rules and Supervision

While boarding school dorms encourage independence, they also prioritize safety and well-being. Dorms are supervised by faculty or resident advisors who ensure that students adhere to the rules and regulations. These rules may include curfews, quiet hours, and guidelines for visitors.

The presence of adult supervision helps to create a secure and structured environment, providing students with a sense of stability and support.

Amenities and Facilities

Boarding school dorms offer a range of amenities and facilities to enhance the residential experience. From spacious common areas for socializing to study rooms for academic pursuits, dorms are equipped with everything students need to thrive.

Many boarding schools also provide laundry facilities, fitness centers, and recreational spaces, allowing students to pursue their interests and relax after a long day of classes.

In addition to these facilities, some boarding schools have implemented wellness programs or offer counseling services within the dorms to address the emotional and mental well-being of students. These resources contribute to a holistic living experience, ensuring that students have the support they need to succeed academically and personally.

Boarding School Costs and Financial Aid Options

When considering boarding schools, one of the most important factors to take into account is the cost. Boarding school education can be a significant investment, but the benefits it offers can be invaluable.

This section will outline the various costs associated with boarding schools and explore the financial aid options available to families.

Tuition and Required Fees

Boarding school tuition can vary greatly depending on the institution and its location. On average, tuition fees for boarding schools range from $20,000 to $60,000 per year. This amount typically covers academic instruction, access to school facilities, and other educational resources.

Required fees, which are separate from tuition, may include charges for textbooks, school supplies, technology, and extracurricular activities. It is essential to factor in these additional expenses when considering the overall cost of boarding school education.

Room and Board Costs

Room and board costs are another significant component of boarding school expenses. These costs cover accommodation, meals, and other daily living expenses while students are residing on campus. On average, room and board costs can range from $10,000 to $15,000 per year.

It’s important to note that these costs may vary depending on the school’s location, the quality of accommodation, and the type of meal plan offered. Some boarding schools may offer different options for room and board, allowing families to choose the most suitable arrangement based on their preferences and budget.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

While the cost of boarding school education can seem daunting, many schools offer financial aid and scholarship opportunities to help alleviate the financial burden. Financial aid packages can include grants, loans, and work-study programs.

Scholarships are another option to explore. Many boarding schools have scholarships specifically designed for academically gifted students, athletes, artists, or students with demonstrated financial need.

These scholarships can significantly reduce the cost of tuition and provide an opportunity for talented students who may not have otherwise been able to afford a boarding school education.

It is important to note that the availability and amount of financial aid and scholarships may vary from school to school. Families should research and reach out to individual schools to inquire about their specific financial aid options and application processes.

It’s worth noting that some boarding schools have partnerships with external organizations or foundations that offer additional financial aid opportunities. Exploring these options can further expand the range of financial assistance available to families.

Famous Boarding School Alumni

Boarding schools have long been known for nurturing and developing talented individuals who go on to achieve great success in various fields. Here are some notable alumni who have walked the halls of boarding schools:

1. Barack Obama

Former President Barack Obama attended Punahou School in Hawaii, where he excelled academically and developed his leadership skills. This prestigious boarding school provided him with a strong foundation that eventually led him to become the 44th President of the United States.

2. Emma Watson

The beloved actress, Emma Watson, famous for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, attended the Dragon School in Oxford. This boarding school helped shape her into a talented and confident individual, paving the way for her successful acting career and her advocacy for women’s rights.

3. Prince William and Prince Harry

The British royal brothers, Prince William and Prince Harry, both attended Eton College, one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the world. This institution provided them with a well-rounded education and helped them develop the leadership skills necessary for their future roles within the royal family.

4. Elon Musk

Elon Musk, the visionary entrepreneur behind companies like Tesla and SpaceX, attended Pretoria Boys High School, a boarding school in South Africa. It was during his time at this school that Musk’s passion for science and technology was nurtured, setting him on the path to becoming one of the most influential figures in the tech industry.

5. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

The former First Lady of the United States, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, attended Miss Porter’s School, a prestigious boarding school for girls in Connecticut. This school played a significant role in shaping her refined taste and cultivated her interest in the arts, history, and culture.

These are just a few examples of the many successful individuals who have emerged from boarding schools. The immersive and structured environment of boarding schools often fosters a strong sense of discipline, independence, and ambition in students, preparing them for future success in their chosen fields.

For more information on boarding schools and their impact on students’ lives, you can visit, which provides comprehensive information and reviews of boarding schools across the United States.


Boarding schools offer a unique educational experience that shapes students academically and personally. By providing a highly structured living and learning community, boarding schools allow students to focus on their studies and extracurricular passions while gaining independence and life skills.

While boarding school life requires making some tradeoffs like less family time, the benefits of small classes, individualized attention from teachers, immersive academics and activities, and learning to live on your own are invaluable for many students.

Every boarding school has its own personality too, so it’s important to research different options thoroughly to find the best fit.

Hopefully this guide has helped you better understand what daily life is like at boarding school. With an idea of the pros and cons, typical schedules, social life, costs, and famous alumni, you now have a comprehensive overview of the boarding school experience from all angles.

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