By: Mimi M. 

Boarding school. What even is boarding school? Is it even real? Isn't that something that's only in movies? If you're thinking about these questions, then same. I felt the exact same way about boarding school up until seventh-grade. 

Most people think that boarding school is only for the very rich or for kids whose families don't want them. I have learned not everyone is from extremely well-off families; a lot of boarders have scholarships and financial aid. The second is almost never true. If someone is going to boarding school, it’s generally because their family wants the best education for them.

 I, personally, don’t come from an extremely rich family and boarding school was my choice, not my parents trying to send me away. Like I said before, I didn’t even know boarding school was an option until seventh-grade. This was because in seventh-grade, boarding school found my brother. He had gone to a Duke Tip awards ceremony the summer before his eighth-grade year and the outreach director for McCallie, a boarding school in Tennessee, talked with him. (Duke Tip is a program for advanced seventh-graders to take the ACT or SAT, by the way.) My brother ended up going to a leadership camp at McCallie over that summer and then applied to go to McCallie as a resident for high school. He was accepted and went up to live at McCallie my eight-grade year. Through this process, I learned about boarding school and saw the benefits my brother was getting.

So in my eighth-grade year, I started applying to boarding schools. My brother had been approached by McCallie, and so had never even looked at another school. I, however, had to find a school for myself. McCallie is an all-boys school, and so I obviously couldn’t go there. I researched heavily and ended up applying to three schools. 

My applications took up most of my eighth-grade year. I missed a lot of school as I went up to go tour the boarding schools and have interviews with the administrators. I also had to write so many essays. To afford boarding school, I had to get large amounts of scholarship money and financial aid to be able to attend. This meant that I had to write double the amount of applications, one for scholarships and the other to get into the school. 

I had to write the equivalent of six essays over my eighth-grade year, which doesn’t sound too bad until you realize I also had to juggle middle school and millions of activities as well. In the end, I was accepted by my top choice school and won a large scholarship so my family was able to afford me attending.

I have just finished up my freshman year as of writing this and can tell you, from my experience, there were so many benefits to boarding school. My school is around 30% residents from all over, and around 60% day students who live near campus. This meant that I got to meet and become friends with people from all over. I also met people who had gone through so many different experiences in life than me. I was able to participate in so many fun activities, as my school organized free trips to do things around town for day and boarding students. 

Education wise, things were great. The class sizes were small, as there were about 15 kids per class, which meant you could get a lot of help from your teacher. Also, there were many dedicated spaces and times for studying, which made it easier to stay motivated and get work done. 

As for actual dorm life, it was so much fun. I was in one of the smaller girls’ dorms, and we were located right next to the river, which meant I got an amazing view out of my window. Every girl had a roommate and we had strict check-in times to make sure our dorm parents knew where we were. On weekdays, we had to be in our rooms studying from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. but we could study in the library or in the common areas if we wanted to work in groups.

Our dorm parents were teachers who lived on campus with us, and they were amazing. There would be around five or six dorm parents to a dorm and they would be there to help you out and make sure everything was okay in the dorm. My English teacher was one of my dorm parents, which was great because I could check my work with her outside of class. She also had the cutest dog, Franklin, which was even better.

All in all, going to boarding school is one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I couldn’t be happier. And yes, I am ready for my sophomore year. 

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