Boarding schools in India are not uncommon and yet the idea of studying abroad, let alone studying in a boarding school is quite an improbable one. With this idea is carried a certain amount of prestige, also hints of an affluent life. Many people assume that boarding schools are for the rich to place their children in and not have to worry about them. Some think that it is a matter of being flashy and that a famous western school is a namesake or something to boast about. However this is not the case. Boarding schools are popular for a few key reasons. I myself am currently in one and can tell you my parents in their unconditional wisdom made the right choice by shipping me there. It is a matter of value not vanity. What did they expect when they sent me there? Think of an excellent boarding school as an investment on the guardian’s part. What do they expect in return? What do they get in return? Is it really worth sending your child (or me in the case of this study. Haha!) To a Western Educational Institution or is it all just flash and finesse? Let’s take a look.
Firstly, independence. And no, not independence for the parents but for the children. Sending kids away from home helps them overcome the need for their parents and housekeepers who would do the chores, clean the rooms and help out with the homework. A school in the West is best for this as boys or girls can discover their potential while being guided by encouraging educators. Citing a common example would be that of the daily organisation and punctuality that my parents might normally take care of. Now all of which I have to do myself at school. It is integral to be punctual and know the “unspoken” rule that what needs to be done needs to be done. It is also important to realize furthermore that such a lifestyle forces you to become independent by extracting you from your comfort zone. I myself am not saying that I have mastered this but in the academic environment I have seen pupils that clearly have. These boys are able to get from activity to activity without slowing down or flinching. This is an aspiration of what to be in a boarding school. My own timetable goes a little something like this. It begins with a wake- up bell or a personal alarm at 7:15AM for breakfast and a quick dash to prepare for the day and get dressed before I head off at 8:10AM. As the day goes by I sit in 7 rigorous lessons then go off for a sport, or an extra curricular activity depending on the day (I don’t do this that often because I’m not that competitive when it comes to sport but I enjoy squash and I do more culturally inclined things. Then again I’m probably the laziest guy in my year though).
This is followed by 2 hours of study time but since not all the due work can be completed in this period some extra amount of my hours during the day goes into homework. I have to juggle this between culture events, various compulsory presentations and music lessons. Also did I mention that I have Saturday school? How’s that for fun!
Now before I start criticizing the aspects of such a ‘public school’ life I should mention (quickly! You should probably glance over this, no second thoughts) that I am not a star student. I would give that title to many others that are more than worthy of it. Although I will admit it isn’t some title the person bestows on themselves or desires. It is hard work that causes the title to be given to them. However it was hard work in the past that brought me to such a prestigious school. And over the past two years I have become a lot more independent than I was when I joined in.
The second important thing to know about the boarding school system is that it allows the pupil to make valuable friends and contacts from various walks of life. At school the boy will likely meet able sportsmen, academic prodigies and hard workers. People like these are very good company as the student will strive to achieve a higher standard in a certain area of his or her development. It also promotes the idea of healthy competition, which is a good trait to have in the highly aggressive world of today. Honestly, don’t expect to become a child prodigy! You don’t have to be unless you really want to be. You should be yourself but exposure to good company can mean more responsibility and attention from your side. Individuality is also important, however so don’t forget that. From my experience it helps to have a good set of friends in a school, be it any field of the development as in my case. It helps for me to try and strive to do well. The best aspect of this is also that you get introduced to different, maybe even alien cultures due to the abundance of international students. It helped me to understand the lives of my peers and think of more than myself. In essence, it made me a more empathetic and knowledgeable individual. They’re not all 2 Dimensional rich brats you know!
On that note let me tell you about an experience when working to get to the school I am placed in today. I gave a series of difficult tests and an interview, all of which I worked very hard for. It was duration of five years of preparation for the different stages. As a routine in Mumbai when I was 9 years old I came home from a long day of school and academic work… (DRUM ROLL!!!) To more taxing work (I do not know how I made it through this period of my life alive!). That was because since the 1st year of real academic course the standard in English schools has been much higher than in Indian schools. Here’s a fun fact for future universities and employers to gouge out of this screen: I skipped 7th grade (Year 8) and went straight to the 8th grade (Year 9) from the 6th grade (Year 7). But that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of working properly or that I can’t go on the potty without being assisted! My point here is to show that it is extremely tough to get into an English boarding school. It doesn’t come easily. While some may argue that a few rich kids do get in easily I will say the majority work for it. Many kids in the school have wealthy parents but they still work hard. Some I know are scholars! It’s about how hard you work! You can get scholarships or a bursary if you cannot afford the fees. The school I’m in is looking for potential in poorer communities where the children are brilliant but cannot afford to even pay the fees. They simply want to impart their knowledge to worthy receivers.
Let us go back to individuality for a minute. One of the most important things for a school to do is help you develop your personality. Be it in the arts or the crafts (I think I can say that?) or music or sport or academics. The list is endless. I myself have an interest in English Literature, Philosophy, Current Affairs and Squash. Most schools in England have societies where you can spend your time with hobbies you take an interest in. These societies are diverse and the options are endless. In this way you can find something, from music and current affairs, to maths and magic society.
In all honesty, there will always be people who will feel a pride and want to show off that their children are in an amazing school (Like Charterhouse School!) but shouldn’t they be allowed to? Its pride that their kids are being taken care of by the best teachers and have good support and facilities to develop that causes them to proclaim that their child is IN GOOD HANDS!
The boarding school and the western education system isn’t just a trendy ‘phase’ right now. It’s the place where your child can develop to be a better all rounded individual. It is where your child’s independence can cause him or her to take more risks and be more entrepreneurial. Isn’t that the idea behind being successful?
You can take it from me.