by Catherine Arjet
Like most college students, I don’t know much about what kind of parent I’ll be, but I do know one thing: My children are going to go to boarding school for at least a year. If they hate it after that, they can leave, but I want them to experience the crazy life of a board at least a little bit. I spent my junior year of high school at a tiny school in southeastern Ohio (pictured above), and it literally changed my life. Sure, boarding school was hard, but its hardships strengthened me. Living with only 53 other teenagers on a campus we weren’t allowed to leave more than twice a week—and then only to walk to the small town down the road for a few hours (unless you were lucky enough to have friends or family in the area who could check you out)—was trying, but it taught me how to get along with people, even people I didn’t particularly like. Being more than 3,000 miles away from everyone I knew was scary, but I learned how to be on my own much sooner than my peers, which made the transition to college a lot easier. Everything that made boarding school hard made me a stronger person and I wouldn’t want my kids to miss out on any of it.
The benefits of boarding school don’t just come from its faults. The positive parts of it changed my life too. I’ll never forget the friendships I made with people I never would have met without boarding school. Even if I had lived in the same place as some of my classmates, I might not have met them, but the diversity of students at my school helped me befriend people with completely different backgrounds. Like the people, the school itself was also incredibly different from what I was used to. It will be 180 years old next year, and you don’t run that long without picking up some pretty cool traditions. From the really weird, like the annual slaughter of young goats and the resulting “goat meal,” to the really sweet, like the boys coming to the girls’ dorm Christmas party to perform a song and the girls singing to the boys right before spring break every year, being a part of something that’s been going on for that long feels special. It’s something most high schools don’t have or at least don’t have as much of. Boarding school was really important to me and I really hope that one day my children will get to experience the same thing.