Australia’s boarding schools offer some of the best education opportunities in the country, if not the world. There are countless global achievers who attended boarding school right here – did you know that Prince Charles went to boarding school in Australia ? Having said that, going to boarding school is about so much more than academic prowess. Whether your child has just begun their boarding journey or is soon to graduate, you can feel confident that they will walk away from school with an understanding far more valuable than algebra or knowledge of the battles of modern history.
Boarding school is a transformative experience for every young person who is given the opportunity. They’re thrown in the deep end of living with tens – if not hundreds – of brothers and/ or sisters, away from home and without someone reminding them to wash their hands every time they go to the bathroom. It’s ok mums, I’m sure they wash their hands…
Here are five lessons I learnt during school that I put down to my boarding experience:
- There is more than one form of intelligence. I had a friend who was on track to receive a perfect score in year 12 but couldn’t – for the life of her – ride a bike. Another friend was your average student, who spent hours reading everyday, though never a textbook or the prescribed English novel. She knew what felt like everything about the world, politics, social issues, philosophies, history and everything in between. I often considered her my smartest friend but her school marks rarely reflected that. Albert Einstein once famously said ‘’the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination’’ and I believe it to be true. Please don’t worry yourself or your child if
academically – according to school grades – they aren’t performing as well as you’d hoped. I guarantee that they are intelligent in some way, shape or form.
- Not to take life so seriously. Often when studying at schools of high caliber, there is a greater element of pressure, whether that comes from yourself, family, peers or teachers. There is either a fierce sense of wanting to achieve or feeling like you should and for a young person already navigating changing hormones and all the rest, it can be quite a load to carry. It can be easy to get caught up in the pressure, but I encourage every young person to challenge that feeling. Even after a shocker of a math text, friendship fallout or boarding ‘consequence’ the sun will rise again tomorrow.
- That there really is no place like home and that wherever you end up in life, it’s important to remember where you came from. There is nothing quite like the diversity of a boarding school where each person calls a different corner of the world their home. Because of that, I’ve always felt an urge to learn where people have come from – the journey that led them to where they are now.
- That everybody has a chapter they don’t read out loud. When you’re living and breathing with your peers 24/7 as you do as a boarder, you see them at their highest highs and lowest lows. I’m grateful to have learnt during those years that there is far more to a person than what appears on the surface. You know to give people the benefit of the doubt and to act with kindness in all of your interactions.
- The friends you make at boarding school are friendships that last a lifetime. My advice: to never let them go easily.
One of the highlights of life as a boarder was always visiting someone’s home in the holidays. I can’t say I would have ventured as far as Cumnock, Garah or Duck Creek had I not had boarding friends who lived there. From horse riding to motorbike riding, lamb marking to tree planting, country races to bonfires – we were always up for trying something new. Years later, these are still some of our fondest memories.
Ruby Riethmuller is the Founder & Director of Womn-Kind