Change can be hard. It’s especially hard for families who know eventually their child(ren) will move out of the family home and start living independently. For many families, this happens when children turn 18 and graduate from high school. But what happens if you want to go to a New England boarding school when you are 14 or 15? What are the steps you can take to help your family agree that boarding is the right choice for you?
Here are eight steps you can take now to help explain to your family why you believe a boarding school is the right opportunity for you. It may not be easy, remember change can be hard, especially for your family, but the more you prepare for the conversation, the more likely you will be able to answer their questions.
Get your “ducks in a row.” Reflect on what type of boarding school is right for you. Not every school has the same “flavor” - some schools are deeply artistic, or offer a social justice program, others may not offer your sport or a Robotics team. Write down what makes you “you” and then find schools reflecting your values.
If you’ve already approached your family with the idea of attending boarding school, ask them to help you research different schools, proofread your essay, or hold a mock-interview with you. If you haven’t previously spoken to your family about attending a New England boarding school, think about the type of concerns your family may have. By finding answers to their objections - before they have the opportunity to bring them up to you - you’re taking the initiative and showing your family you have a well thought out plan.
What are some objections you think your family may have? If you think they will be concerned about the financial impact, you can print the financial aid programs and gather information about scholarships.
Add up the time, gas, and mileage and the additional costs of your after-school activities and your family will begin to understand the added value of boarding school. While your friends are driving back and forth to dance, hockey practice, or band practice, you’ll have already had a full day of classes, met with your teacher to clarify a question on a lab you’re writing with classmates, scored a goal in a soccer game, met up with friends for dinner, met with your Service Learning group, and are now settled into study hall. Isn’t that better than trying to do your homework in the car while eating dinner on your way to practice?
You've let your family know how attending a boarding school in New England can benefit them, now let them know how it will help you including:
Show your family you want them involved in the process. Show them how you’ve researched the admissions process and financial aid. But just as importantly, show them you've planned out how you will stay connected as a family member. Will you start every morning off with a Snapchat, send a text after practice, and Facetime on Sunday mornings? What will you do when your family comes to visit you? How long will it take to get to your new school, where can you eat, what sights will you see? Put your plan together now.
Change is hard (we know, we said that before.) Respect the feelings of your family. Show them that going to boarding school doesn't mean you don't think you need any more - but that this is a gift you can give to one another.
Don't give up. As prepared and positive as you are when you present your desire to go to boarding school, your family may still have questions or concerns. You know your family best. Discover their questions and find the answers. When the time is right, mention what new information you've learned and ask your family to consider your request. If your parents say “no,” ask them what you can do to convince them to let you attend boarding school. Take their suggestions seriously. As you find out more information or meet their requirements, update your parents and ask them to reconsider your request. Remember to be respectful and that your family loves you.