A boarding school experience can be a life-changing experience for any one child. It’s a space where one might find their belonging and purpose, as well as make friendships that last a lifetime. In fact, research shows how boarding schools effectively prepare their students for university and beyond — many of whom go on to achieve greater levels of success than their day school peers.
It’s a common refrain from parents with children at The Webb School, a private coeducational boarding and day school in Bell Buckle, Tennessee that prepares its students for life. Here, students learn everything from getting to class on time, doing their own laundry, learning study and time management skills, and employing self-discipline.
Why boarding school?
Kareena Relwani, a parent at The Webb School, chose boarding life for the responsibility and growth it would instil in her tenth-grade child — both academically and as a growing young woman. “Harshita recently completed a project in English for which she gave up two of her favourite things for a week and had to reflect and write on that experience,” she shares. “She has learned self-control and sacrifice for improvement.”
At The Webb School, every student is taught essential life skills — better preparing them to live independently. “As a parent, seeing the students handling their own laundry, washing, and ironing is indicative of hard work and improving one’s organisation skills,” she says.
It’s not all hard work, of course. Boarding school is often lauded for being an extremely fun environment for its students to live and learn. At The Webb School, school spirit is maintained throughout the year with various athletics activities and events — such as its fall football season and winter basketball seasons for boys and girls — keeping the spark alive. The arts are just as vibrant, with a myriad of opportunities for students to participate in music, theatre, the visual arts, and many others.
What sets boarding life apart, however, is the many chances to form relationships with other students beyond usual schooling hours. At The Webb School, learners live together in a dorm room — which, for many, is their first experience of cohabitation.
Weekends are packed with activities, both on campus and off. For example, students enjoy trips to nearby cities such as Nashville and Murfreesboro and seasonal trips like ice skating over winter periods and pumpkin patches during Halloween season.
Applying to a top-rated boarding school
Beginning the application process may seem complicated. Parents can find most information on a boarding school from its website — but it’s equally important to ensure the institution is a suitable fit for their child. This makes it doubly crucial to establish contact with a school — and the first point in this regard is reaching out to a member of the admissions team.
“Once a family wants to apply to Webb, customer service is at the forefront of my mind in the Admissions Office,” shares Carrie Auwarter, Director of Admissions at The Webb School. “I want families to know that they can contact me with any question, and also that I can help them facilitate a conversation with any other adult on campus. My goal is for every prospective family to feel like they are part of the Webb Family from the moment that they inquire.”
Every step of the admissions process at The Webb School is designed to be as smooth as possible. “Everything is conducted online; within the admissions portal, parents can upload report cards and photos,” says Auwarter. “Email addresses of recommending teachers are entered by the parent and automatically sent to them through the portal. Admissions interviews can be conducted by way of facetime, zoom, WhatsApp or WeChat. Finally, if an in-person tour is not possible, a student or admissions member can lead a family on a virtual tour of campus.”
There may also be other requirements that the school stipulates. The Webb School, for example, requires a standardised test called the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) — which can be taken at home or online — as well as a TOEFL or Duolingo test for those whose native language is not English.
Final questions: Is boarding school right for my child?
Of course, boarding life may not be suitable for every child. They might face moments of doubt, heartache, and failure. Hence why The Webb School assigns every student an advisor to monitor a student’s overall progress at school, academically and socially. This acts as a safety net for students to fall back on should they need it.
More than that, contacting any one school’s admissions team can help in this regard. “Part of my job sometimes is to help families figure out if boarding school itself is right for their child,” says Auwarter. “Then if it is, I need to help them determine if Webb is the right school for them. Do we offer the right courses, the arts that they desire, and the sports team that they wish to participate in? Will they be around like-minded students who have similar values and goals?”
This form of open communication is essential to parents such as Relwani. “From the beginning, the process of application submission and acceptance went smoothly with guidance and advice,” she shares. “As a parent, I know I can reach out to receive all my queries answered at any given time.”