EduTalk Radio Series: The College Lift

The college admission process can be one of the most stressful times a student ever encounters. It’s full of uncertainty with the student’s future education, career, and life depending on one fateful envelope in the mail.

Boarding schools teach students how to succeed in college through real-life experiences.Maybe that’s a little over-dramatic, or maybe it’s not. Either way, post-secondary education is a major concern and students will do nearly anything to make sure they are admitted to a top college or university. So what is the best way to be prepared for college admissions and to ensure a spot at the school of your choice? Larry Jacobs, the host of EduTalk Radio, speaks with Peter Upham, Executive Director of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), in a two-part installment to learn more about how boarding schools developed into the legacy that they are today, and how they can give students the extra “umph” needed for college admissions and for a successful college career.

Composed of nearly 300 of the leading boarding schools in the U.S., Canada, and abroad, TABS has developed a history of quality. Some member schools began as academies and date back as early as the mid-1700s – almost one hundred years before public schools were created. As more students came from far and wide, schools added a boarding element.

Fast forward to 2013, and students are still flocking to boarding schools not just from all over the country, but also from all over the world. In fact, Upham says that 30% of TABS students come from outside of North America.

So why has the legacy of boarding schools continued on successfully? The combined learning and living atmosphere is unique, to say the least, but there’s also another part. Boarding school students are able to use their experiences and their education moreso after they graduate, by attending and suceeding at elite four-year universities.

The “college lift,” as Upham dubs it, is the leg up, if you will, that TABS sees its students gaining from their boarding school experiences. He cites two studies that TABS has conducted, one of which will be released in the coming months, and both of which confirm that boarding school students feel more prepared for college than students from other types of schools. But it goes beyond the preparation, as these students also have a higher retention rate in college.

Upham attributes these successes to one major characteristic: confidence. He knows that when you give students the opportunity to have experiences with real risks, they will learn what it means to succeed, but also what it means to fail – and then to get back up and keep going. The environment of a boarding school, being its own community, allows and encourages these experiences to ensure everyday opportunities for learning and development both in and outside of the classroom.

And last, but not least, Upham and Jacobs are adamant to note that boarding schools and the college lift are indeed accessible, not elitist, with one-third of TABS students currently receiving financial aid. Boarding schools are diverse, and they offer an alternative to traditional public schools.

Want to know more? The College Lift show and The Boarding School Legacy show from EduTalk radio are both archived, and you can also visit the TABS website and learn about their annual conference, taking place December 5-7 in Boston. The keynote speaker is Daniel Gilbert, a professor at Harvard University and author of New York Times bestseller, Stumbling on Happiness. We’ll be there, too, so stop by and see us!