American Boarding Schools - a book review
American Boarding Schools, Edited by Celeste Heiter
It is about time such a book is put together. The elusive and elite world of boarding schools in America is now being increasingly recognized as a catalyst for Asian students to obtain a taste of an US education and the American culture. Thus, boarding schools are gradually emerging onto the international arena as a marketable commodity.
Understandably, being hauled out into the light from years of traditional obscurity and privilege, there are often much misunderstanding and difference in expectations between the schools and parents. This is compounded if the parents are unfamiliar with the local environment and culture to begin with. If you agree with the above, rest be assured that these are potentially preventable conflicts and American Boarding Schools is one such useful initiative to do so.
To call American Boarding Schools a mere directory would be an understatement. It is a lot more than just a chapter ripped off from the Yellow Pages, or a mere collection of brochures. Firstly, the various inputs from headmasters, international student coordinators and other school officials make this book not just a collection of information; but an agent of communication. Then, because it is compiled with international students in mind, it is only apt that international students help write it too! Indeed, there are student testimonies; some touching, some humorous but all encouraging experiences about being in a school a few plane flights away from home.
Parents who are sending their children to boarding schools are akin to having them being adopted for a while. The whole emotional aspect attached to this sometimes blurs their ability to critically analyze the schools. Indeed, most of the time, they are at a loss of what to expect, since boarding schools in America thrive in their uniqueness.
Therefore, when facing an agent/consultant or headmaster, what are the pertinent questions one should ask? American Boarding Schools not only tells you the questions but provides the answers as well! From ‘Is it a uni-gender school or co-ed? How many international students are there? What are its SAT score requirements? How much is the tuition... all the way down to the headmasters' names and email addresses; neatly listed and easy-to-find. From Asheville to Winchendon, American Boarding Schools gives a concise description of fifty five boarding schools all across America.
As mentioned, boarding schools are as fiercely independent as they come. Thus, it is not only a new culture but a subculture that the fresh international student must adapt to. It certainly would not hurt to know what it is like beforehand. For example, what is the school's leaning; (religious or secular), its academic strengths (liberal arts or sciences), and perhaps the one which parents rarely forget; ‘What universities do their graduates get admitted to?'
Choosing a good boarding school; either for yourself or your children is perhaps one of the most important investments in life. No information is too trivial, no data less useful in determining one's Alma mater.
Before you meet that agent, or go for that interview with the headmaster, make sure you have American Boarding Schools at hand, with every sentence memorized.
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Published on 11/24/07