What are the benefits of attending boarding school?

Here are six things that set the boarding school experience apart.

benefits of boarding school at interlochen arts academy

Maybe you’re interested in attending boarding school but you haven’t decided if it’s the right fit for you. You might be wondering: what are the advantages of attending boarding school, as opposed to your local private or public school?

We spoke with several faculty members at Interlochen Arts Academy who weighed in on the benefits of boarding school. Boarding school can contribute to your personal and social development in several important ways: you’ll benefit from a diverse student body, develop deeper friendships, and prepare for independent living.

In addition, boarding school can offer academic benefits like opportunities to study specialized topics, a holistic approach to education, and admission to your top college choices.

A diverse student body

International students from Interlochen Arts Academy

Do you want to meet students from different cultures, religions, and ways of life? Well-known boarding schools have reputations that attract students from around the world. For example, Interlochen Arts Academy is home to students from 27 different countries, from Afghanistan to Zambia.

“At Interlochen, we emphasize The Interlochen 5, which are five vital characteristics of an Interlochen education,” says Camille Colatosti, Provost at Interlochen Arts Academy. “One of these is Global and Cultural Perspective. At a culturally-diverse boarding school, learning how students from other countries think and live their lives can be an education in itself.”

A boarding school’s diverse student body won’t just add richness to your high school education—it will help shape you into a more understanding and tolerant human being.

A sense of community

Interlochen Arts Academy students on Mackinac Island trip

When you’re at boarding school, time with your friends doesn’t stop when classes end for the day. You’ll attend school events, go to the gym, hang out on the weekends, and live on campus together. The many hours you spend with your classmates can help you develop deeper relationships than you might at a typical high school. As a result, boarding school friends can become a community that feels like a family.

“In a place like this, you can reach out to students you barely know and make lifelong connections,” says Megan Walton, Vice Provost of Student Life at Interlochen Arts Academy. “The community here, the level of respect that you get and you give, is one of those intangible things that most teenagers never experience in high school.”

Preparation for college life

A dorm at Interlochen Arts Academy

For many students, college is the first time they ever experience what it’s like living away from home. Boarding school students get a head start on the college experience by learning independent living skills in high school. Students manage their own laundry, keep their rooms tidy, learn how to get along with roommates, and set schedules for the day that allow time for productivity and fun.

“Although you’ll definitely grow in independence while you’re at boarding school, you don’t have to do it alone,” says Walton. “Our students are constantly supported by counselors and residence life staff who care about their well-being, creating a safe atmosphere for growth.”

Opportunities to specialize your studies

Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra cellist smiles during performance

Maybe you have special interests or talents. Maybe you’re looking for more than a general high school education, and you’d like the chance to dive deeper into a particular area. Consider attending a boarding school, where you are likely to have opportunities to pursue specialized areas of study. For example, Interlochen Arts Academy allows students to major in one of seven arts disciplines: creative writing, dance, film & new media, interdisciplinary arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. These majors, similar to majors in college, allow you to develop expertise in the subjects that interest you most.

Attending a boarding school with distinct majors might also give you valuable opportunities to collaborate with students in a variety of programs, giving you an interdisciplinary perspective and a competitive edge.

A holistic education

Students play outside in the snow at Interlochen Arts Academy

A boarding school isn’t just where you go to school—it becomes your home for the time you’re there. As a result, some boarding schools offer programs that are specifically dedicated to your growth as a person. Interlochen Arts Academy emphasizes Mindfulness, Wellness, and Resilience throughout all of the academic, artistic, and residential learning that happens at the school. Alongside typical classwork, students are encouraged to develop character qualities like tenacity and adaptability that will serve them in their future careers, all while focusing on their mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

“Our work supports our students as they navigate their academic, emotional, and social lives,” says Walton. “We want students to flourish as whole persons and thrive in every way.”

Admission into top colleges

Why arts boarding schools can expand your college opportunities

If you choose to attend boarding school, it can give you an advantage in the college admissions process. While boarding school is a great option for many students, it’s not the typical route, so having it on your academic records can help you stand out.

“When admissions officers see a high-quality boarding school on your high school transcript, they can tell you’ve done something to set yourself apart,” says Colatosti. “Choosing a boarding school demonstrates your commitment to pursuing more challenging academics. It also shows the kind of personal and social maturity that admissions officers are often looking for.”

Students who attend Interlochen Arts Academy are consistently accepted into their top-choice schools, including Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, Juilliard, and more.

There are many benefits to choosing a boarding school. If you’re interested in making friends from around the world, studying unique subjects, and preparing for college and your career, boarding school could be a good fit for you.

Interested in learning more about boarding school? 

Get our guide on what first-time arts boarding school students should know