A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

Common Myths About Boarding Schools

Posted by Lynette Assarsson on September 30, 2015


The Top Six Myths About Boarding Schools

There are common misconceptions about boarding schools. Movie depictions of boarding schools might lead you to believe that they are havens for rich kids who misbehave, are full of uniformed-clad elitists, or are homes for wizards. These notions are far from the reality. Let’s dispel the most common myths about boarding schools:

MYTH: Kids who are troubled are sent to boarding schools.

TRUTH: While some therapeutic schools do exist, the vast majority of boarding schools are academically rigorous college preparatory institutions. Boarding school students bring strong skills in academics, the arts, athletics, and more.

MYTH: Parents send their kids to boarding school to distance themselves from their children.

TRUTH: Parents who choose boarding schools do so to provide their children with a superlative education. Parents and boarding students alike report that they actually have closer relationships, because time together becomes more significant and meaningful. Dorm parents enforce rules about room cleanliness, curfew, and studying (among others), enabling parents and teens to avoid these common areas of conflict.

MYTH: Boarding schools are “loose” like college.

TRUTH: The freedoms found on college campuses are not found in boarding schools. Students have supervised independence and are subject to rules that are far more strict than colleges, and, often, more stringent than rules at home.

MYTH: Boarding schools are homogenous.

TRUTH: Boarding schools are socioeconomically, racially, and ethnically diverse, often far more than their day school or public school counterparts. Because students live on campus, they can come from across the nation and from around the globe. 

MYTH: Only the rich can afford boarding schools.

TRUTH: While tuition is high, boarding schools highly value socio-economic diversity and have robust financial aid and scholarship programs.

MYTH: Boarding schools are like Hogwarts.

TRUTH: Perhaps this is only partly a myth. Boarding schools often boast beautiful campuses with grand buildings and magnificent architecture. And magic does happen at boarding schools, but not the kind wielded by wands or potions. It’s the magic of strong communities and friendships, of close relationships with faculty who are also dorm parents and coaches. It’s the magic of students living and learning together to prepare for college and for life. Few boarding schools  cater to a single type of student, and none actually cater to Harry Potter. But you knew that. 

If you’d like to learn more about boarding schools, their curricula, and their distinctive offerings, visit these websites:
TABS (The Association of Boarding Schools)
Boarding School Review
Admissions Quest

To learn more about Westtown School's boarding program visit their website.  


Topics: How to Pick the Best Independent School in Philly

Lynette Assarsson

Written by Lynette Assarsson

Lynette Assarsson is Director of Publications at Westtown School. Her responsibilities include writing content for the website, and writing and editing school communications. She is the managing editor and writer for the school magazine, The Westonian. She received her B.A. from Earlham College, and earned diplomas from Estudio Sampere in Madrid, Spain, and Programas Americanos en Segovia, Spain. Both of her daughters attended Westtown School, and her eldest was a “lifer” who graduated in 2014. Lynette is passionate about travel and exploring the world, reading, and writing.