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Why attend a boarding school?

If your son or daughter is considering attending, or is currently enrolled in, college or university, would you say that you are “sending your child away”?

Similarly, do you feel that you are sending your child away if he or she is keen to attend an overnight summer camp or a hockey school?

Or rather, would you describe the decision to enroll or register your child for any one of these experiences as a thoughtful family discussion in which a choice was made?

As headmaster of Trinity College School (TCS) – a day and boarding school in Port Hope, Ontario, for students grades 5-12 – I can tell you that 260 of the 460 high school students attending TCS live at the School. What might surprise some adults is that they not only love living at the same place that they learn, but they frequently call TCS their “second home.”

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Despite this, there are many families who don’t consider a boarding school for their child. Interestingly, one of the most common responses I hear from parents when asked why they would not consider a boarding school for their child is rooted in this subtle but perceived difference between “sending” and “choosing.” Parents often say to me that they would never “send their kids away.” My response to this comment surprises many parents. I simply state the facts. The fact is that kids choose to come to TCS.

I believe the view that kids are “sent” to boarding school is founded in an aged and outdated perception of what private schools used to be. In short, the dated reputation of boarding schools was that of a place where kids, who were not wanted at home or were too much of a distraction at their local school, were sent. And the sense was that their destination was an institution based on a militaristic model of schooling, in which students were managed through discipline. However, it is abundantly clear today that independent schools are very different than this antiquated stereotype of days gone by.

Kids and their families choose schools like Trinity College School for:

  • the variety of curricular and co-curricular options on offer;
  • our support of children through our robust academic and student support efforts;
  • small class sizes and individual attention;
  • access to highly qualified and experienced professionals;
  • access to extraordinary facilities and opportunities; and,
  • an environment that allows young people to flourish and become confident individuals.
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Independent boarding schools are now known more for their diversity (at TCS there are 35 countries represented), their university acceptance results, the number of bursaries and scholarships on offer, and for a higher level of care and concern for kids. We work closely with families to develop close relationships, in spite of some significant geographical challenges.

It has also been my experience that kids are now doing the research, exploring options, taking more ownership of their education and their futures. Students are the ones – more so than their parents – desiring and looking for the best possible environment and circumstances so that they cannot only be better prepared for university and college, but also better prepared for the changing employment landscape their generation will face.

More importantly, young people are also looking for a deeper sense of meaning and purpose, so that they can lead a happier life in the future. In their search, they often find that a boarding school offers all the requirements of their ideal learning – and living – environment. So, truth be told, it is kids wanting and choosing to come to boarding schools, rather than parents sending their kids away to boarding schools.

That’s not to say that parents aren’t benefiting from their children’s boarding experience. Our parents commonly report back that their child opting to attend a boarding school has been the best family decision they have ever made. This is realized as their child comes home during breaks and brings back a new sense of maturity, independence and responsibility. Not to mention, a sense of excitement for their future that has resulted from new experiences and realized successes, which they are happy to share with their parents.

And, I can tell you that there is a massively positive impact on our school community, and on our culture of learning, because kids want to be here. Perhaps in no area is this positive impact more apparent than in the area of discipline. Fifty years ago, the principal’s office used to be feared; today, it is frequently used by students to discuss issues, to celebrate student achievement, and to welcome and accept families that have chosen to be a part of our active, challenging, caring and international school community.

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Today, boarding schools are a place where young people choose to be and, as a result, they are making the most out of their high school years. So the question perhaps should be: Why NOT attend a boarding school?

If you think the boarding experience might be right for your child, visit our boarding webpage at www.tcs.on.ca/boarding. To learn more about our financial assistance program and the supportive and caring community that is Trinity College School, visit us online at www.tcs.on.ca.


Article Submitted by Guest Blogger and Kawartha Chamber Member:

Stuart Grainger, Head Master
Trinity College School
55 Deblaquire Street N, Port Hope
www.tcs.on.ca | 905-885-3217

Trinity College School