Factors in finding the right school: living arrangements

A look at boarding, day, and homestay schools

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If you have an older child in private school, it's important to decide whether boarding or day school is right for them. There are benefits to both, and many schools offer both boarding and day options.


Readiness for boarding school depends on your child’s maturity, interests, and goals. While schools will request academic records for admission, acceptance also depends on whether your child is ready and motivated and sees the value of boarding school.

Boarding

Boarding schools allow students and faculty to live on campus, and boarders typically live on site for the whole academic year. Boarding offers an immersive academic and social experience. In class and out, students are challenged to develop independence, leadership skills, and positive relationships.

Boarding school isn’t just an environment where students live. Rather, it offer rich experiences that aren’t available in other settings.

Students tend to come from out of town, but many local students also choose to live in residence. Some students stay in residence for the week and go home for the weekend.

Day

More varied than boarding schools, private day schools come in all shapes and sizes. Some reflect the “campus feel” of boarding school (either physically or in terms of the available programming and on-site resources). Others have a more casual feel.

The division between day and boarding school isn’t always sharp, since many schools have both options. Those that do are particularly attractive to families looking for a smooth transition from day school to boarding during the high school years.

Homestay programs

Some schools offer homestay programs: instead of living on campus, students stay with a family living near the school. These programs are especially attractive if you're sending your child to a school that isn’t in your area and that doesn’t have a boarding program. Often, homestay programs are organized and managed by the school.

Benefits of boarding vs. day schools

Boarding school advantages

Day school advantages

Saves money on normal child expenses (covered by boarding fees).

Overall tuition is significantly lower (for schools that offer both day and boarding, day tuition is about half that of boarding).

Frees family from dealing with transportation to school and activities. Students and parents can invest saved time in more enriching pursuits.

Parents can be more involved in kids’ day-to-day activities. Even seemingly mundane chores like transporting kids can be bonding experiences.

Allows students to immerse themselves in school life more fully than in day school. Resembles on-campus university life in this sense. Excellent for kids who want to go “all-in” on academics and extracurriculars.

Students have more freedom to vary their environment, while still investing time in academics and extracurriculars.

Offers many opportunities to interact with a diverse group of new people—great for kids from less diverse communities.

Allows kids to maintain stronger ties with current friends while still making new ones.

Boarders develop powerful bonds with each other. Living together makes boarders feel like family.

Students have more freedom to vary their social groups, while still forming lasting friendships with schoolmates.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder: family time is often high quality when boarders and parents reunite.

Students are able to spend more time with their families throughout the year.

Satisfies an adolescent’s desire for independence and can accelerate their maturity, preparing them well for university. A good solution if there is friction in the family.

Allows parents to provide continuous feedback to kids as they go through adolescence.

If the family is always moving for work or other reasons, boarding school offers students consistency.

Day school involves less sudden change to a child’s life.

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