Advice on Preparing for Boarding School (Part 1)

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Kitty Chow offers advice on preparing for boarding school for those heading off after the summer.

Kids preparing for boarding school

Starting school is always scary, let alone starting boarding school. Boarding is certainly not common in Hong Kong so the idea of studying in another country as a boarder can be daunting.

As a former boarder, I thought I would share with you some tips based on my personal experience in the UK. I have put my tips into two categories: preparation (before starting boarding school) and surviving (once you start boarding school: which will follow as part two). I have kept my tips on a rather general level so they should be universally applicable regardless of which country / boarding school you will be attending. The points made in this article are also applicable to starting universities. So let’s dive straight into some tips on preparing for boarding school.

Ok I got a place at a boarding school, what now?

First and foremost, congratulations! Your hard work in the entrance exams and interviews have finally paid off, so well done!

Essential Documents

Make sure you have all your essential documents–are there any outstanding certificates or documents that the school requires? Check your email and mailbox (also spam folder) to make sure you have not missed out on any deadlines or important information. Also be mindful of the timeline and requirements for the student visa – what documents do you need to bring to the embassy? Do you need to do any body checks / blood tests / criminal record checks etc as part of the prerequisite for the visa? Certain countries require you to do specific body checks at specific health companies beforehand, so make sure you do not leave everything to the last minute. Moreover, look into flights and purchase additional luggage if necessary.

You might be interested in attending the UK Boarding School iFestival, an online event.

What to Pack

Most likely your school will send you a list of recommended items to bring with you, including items of clothing, living essentials, sports equipment etc. Use this as a starting point and decide whether or not you need all of the listed items. For example, if the school lists a ‘down jacket’ then the area is probably rather cold, so you should ideally get something similar; whereas a ‘dressing gown’ is more of a personal preference.

Quick Recap of the School

Assuming that you have applied to a few schools, it is helpful to spend an hour or so to recap on the school that you will be attending so you don’t have the schools confused. A brief look around, for instance, the location and climate would be useful in packing.

Point of contact at school

The school will almost certainly provide you with a point of contact so keep a note of that (both email and phone number) in case of any queries or concerns. Whenever in doubt, ask.

Current students / future students at school

Some schools might have a ‘buddy’ system where they will pair you up with existing students (most likely someone with similar background as you). This person can help answer all your questions and can give you an honest, insiders view into the boarding school from the student’s perspective. I suggest getting this person’s phone number and hop on a call with them to get all your questions answered, or even arrange a quick meet up if it is logistically possible. If there isn’t a buddy system, try to ask the school to direct you to a current student that can answer your queries.


Educated at UK’s Badminton School, Kitty obtained a First Class Honours degree in Biomedical Engineering, followed by a MSc degree specialising in Medical Physics, both from Imperial College. She works at Ampla Education assisting with school and university applications.

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