Boarding house tutor Sophie Cochrane says boarding school gave her the courage and confidence to travel the world.
A FORMER STUDENT of Methodist Ladies’ College (MLC) in Melbourne, 27-year-old Sophie Cochrane has returned to the school as a boarding house tutor, helping with homework and offering emotional support. “Your whole life changes,” says Sophie of her own experience of boarding. “Everything is new, from sport to music to friendships. But it was a really positive experience.” Originally from Deniliquin, in southern NSW, Sophie began boarding at MLC when she was 14 and starting Year 9. In her home town, going off to boarding school was common and, for Sophie, it just seemed like a natural progression. “It was always going to be that way,” she says. “The opportunities that came with boarding were amazing.” When Sophie’s parents chose MLC, they weren’t just thinking about secondary school, they were preparing her for tertiary education. They thought it would be easier for Sophie to familiarise herself with the city while in the supportive environment of the boarding house, rather than move there alone, straight from home, to attend university. It seems they were right — Sophie says her friends from Deniliquin found it more difficult to adjust to city living. “They found it daunting, but I had already established a network in Melbourne.” Boarding helped Sophie develop valuable life skills, such as independence and time management. She also learnt to live with other people. “When I lived in share houses and travelled overseas, it definitely came in handy!” she laughs. Sophie is a passionate advocate of the boarding experience, so much so that, after a stint teaching overseas, she found herself back in the MLC boarding house, this time as a tutor. In this role, Sophie does everything from greeting students as they return from day school to assisting with homework and helping with the bedtime routines. Looking after students’ wellbeing is another important part of the job. “We make sure the students are happy and things are going well. If they’re feeling a bit homesick, we help them through it,” says Sophie. And it’s easy for her to put herself in the boarders’ shoes. “Having been a boarder myself definitely helps. They know I understand what they might be feeling and they appreciate that.” Having lived in both the country and the city, Sophie believes she’s had the best of both worlds, but for now, she’s decided to call Melbourne home. “Boarding gave me the confidence and the skills to move; I think I would have found the city too intimidating otherwise. It has given me options in life and I feel I can now choose to live anywhere.”
“Boarding gave me the confidence to move. It has given me options... and I can now choose to live anywhere.”