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Is my child ready for boarding school?

These five questions will help your family decide if your child is ready for the challenges and growth that boarding school can bring.

A visual arts student with long red hair works on a painting.

Leaving home to attend boarding school is a significant decision, and it’s important to consider all the factors involved. Whether your student is a rising freshman or a little further along in their high school career, take some time to see whether they are ready to take the plunge and explore arts and academics on a deeper level at a boarding school. Here are 5 questions that will help you determine if your child is ready for boarding school.

Is your child passionate about the arts?

Have you watched your child’s creativity develop from a young age? Did they constantly ask for art supplies, fill notebooks with original drawings, create stop-motion animations, or act out parts from well-known plays? If you see these interests in your child, this is a strong indicator that an arts boarding school may be a great fit for them. Many schools offer the opportunity to specialize in a certain arts discipline like music or theatre, or even discover the intersections of different art forms. The chance to explore what they’re passionate about may prove extremely fulfilling to your student.

Does your child have defined creative goals?

Is your student interested in pursuing art in college, or even finding a career in the arts? Students who attend boarding schools go on to enjoy all kinds of different vocations, but the training they receive at an arts boarding school can be particularly valuable to students who want to turn their creative gifts into a lifestyle. In addition, students from arts boarding schools tend to be very successful in the college application process—getting into top schools and earning significant scholarships. It’s important to consider what your student’s goals are and whether a boarding school education would help them achieve those goals.  

Would your child benefit from specialized instruction?

For some students, public school arts programs or even private arts lessons have limited value. If your student has outgrown their instructors or is looking for some added rigor, boarding school may be an excellent option. Schools like Interlochen Arts Academy offer personal mentorship with world-class faculty members, from movie directors to award-winning novelists. These faculty members aren’t just teachers in the classroom; they work 1-on-1 with students to offer guidance for their artistic journeys. Students with the desire and motivation to work with professionals stand to benefit immensely from the boarding school experience.

Is your child developing strong independent living skills?

Boarding schools differ from typical public and private schools for several reasons, but one of the most obvious differences is that students live away from home. If your child is interested in attending boarding school, it’s important that they’re making good progress on mastering basic life skills. Can they plan out their day and have enough time both for homework and practicing their art form? Do they know how to run a washing machine and keep their room reasonably tidy? There’s no need to worry about perfection—schools like Interlochen offer plenty of resources to help your student succeed—but it’s important that they’re showing growth in these areas.

Does your child have the emotional resilience needed to live away from home?

If your student is going to be living many miles away from home, they need to be prepared for some adjustments. To discern whether your child is ready, it can be helpful to look back on how they’ve reacted to other big changes in their lifestyle. Did they go to sleep-away camp during the summer? Have they experienced a longer trip, a change of school, or even a move? How did they adapt to their new environment? Thriving in boarding school takes courage, adaptability, and the ability to develop friendships in a new place. If your student has never experienced anything like this, have an honest conversation with them about what this change might look like for them. Open communication can help you see if your student is ready for the challenges, growth, and rewards that boarding school can bring.

Learn more about Interlochen Arts Academy.