Should Your Teen Go To Boarding School?
Sending your teenager away to study abroad can be a life-changing moment for the both of you. So, always listen to your teen’s wishess before making such a big decision!
For years, parents have been sending their children to study at boarding schools overseas. Those who can afford it don’t think twice as they feel this opportunity builds their child’s character, and the exposure adds to his or her knowledge. Some may also see boarding schools as a stepping stone to university.
But with more and more international schools sprouting up in Malaysia, do parents still see the need to send their kids away to boarding schools abroad? We speak to Stephanie Cheah, the spokesperson of the British Education and Schools Show in Asia (BESSA), to learn how studying abroad would contribute to the development of today’s teens.
HER WORLD WHAT ARE THE KEY ELEMENTS OF GOING TO BOARDING SCHOOL THAT WILL BENEFIT A TEEN?
Stephanie Cheah: “The main element is independence because in boarding school, you have to think for yourself but within a structured environment. You’re also given the opportunity to make your own choices, from the things you study to how you spend your extra time. Boarding schools also provide good facilities and opportunities in terms of internships and access to influential role models.”
HW: BUT NOT MANY FAMILIES CAN AFFORD THE FEES AND LIVING EXPENSES. ARE THERE SCHOLARSHIPS?
SC: “A scholarship is one way to get into boarding schools. And there are academic, arts and sports scholarships available depending on the school. However, typically these scholarships do not cover a huge percentage of the total fees.”
HW: IT’S SAID THAT MORE TEENS GO THROUGH DEPRESSION THAN BEFORE. WOULD STUDYING ABROAD AFFECT A CHILD EMOTIONALLY, ESPECIALLY WITH THEIR LIVES BEING SO DIGITALLY-DRIVEN?
SC: “Mental health has a lot to do with pressure and work, and now it also links to the digital age. Teens today are pretty much alone. Perhaps yes, those who attend boarding schools do have to mingle more with their peers and they’ll learn more from each other, but I have to say that it truly depends on the situation at home. Some parents may feel that sending their kids away will help them through difficult situations at home, but they forget that teens may feel dejected from being sent away. So, it truly depends on the impetus on making the decision and most importantly, whether your child buy into it. Is he or she ready and is this the path they would like to embark on?”
HW: WE HEAR OF MANY LEADERS WHO ATTENDED BOARDING SCHOOLS IN THEIR YOUTH. DO YOU THINK IT’S THE STRUCTURED ENVIRONMENT IN SUCH SCHOOLS THAT CREATES GOOD LEADERS?
SC: “I think you do learn certain skills in a boarding school, such as being tolerant. And it’s great to spend parts of your childhood abroad where the mindset is more open. Students at boarding schools also seem to be more aware of global issues and have a better opportunity to stand out and lead, as the classes are smaller (only between five and 10 students per class) compared to day schools. Boarding schools also have many influential leaders in their alumni, who come back and speak to current students about their experiences.”
HW: WHAT SHOULD TEENS KNOW ABOUT GOING TO BOARDING SCHOOL AND HOW SHOULD THEY PREPARE FOR IT?
SC: “They should first know what to expect. Go visit the school and learn about it. Speak to past or present students to gain knowledge from their experience. Parents should also make sure their kids are prepared academically, so that there isn’t too much of a shock once school begins. It’s good to note that academic grades to qualify vary from school to school. Some may be more focused on achievements in sports, while others place more emphasis on grades. It truly depends on which school your teen would like to attend.