If you are considering boarding school for your child, it’s well worth paying the school a visit before reaching any final decision. But what questions should you ask a boarding school while you are there?
Reading the brochure of a school and physically visiting are completely different – the former gives you a brief understanding of the school from the school’s perspective (i.e. what the school claims and wants you to see) and the latter allows you to gain first hand exposure of what the school really is like. A school visit is the best time for you to figure out if the school would be a good fit for your child. Visiting while the students are on campus is advisable as it gives a truer picture of school life. Below is a list of questions that you should ask a boarding school.
About the School
You most likely have already researched the school thoroughly, hence your reason for visiting in the first place, so use this opportunity to confirm your understanding and ask anything that was unanswered through your research. Some questions that you might want to consider include:
- What is the academic curriculum that the school follows?
- Which languages are studied – if you would like your child to continue to learn Mandarin it’s worth checking which level the school caters for. Is Mandarin part of the curriculum or will it be extra curricular? Will you need to source a tutor yourself?
- Which sports are available to students? To what level?
- Are there extracurricular activities in which students can participate?
- What are the entry requirements / admission process? Are there any particular qualities that you value most in a student?
- How big are the classes? (see if you can visit any classes, especially of subjects that you are most interested in.)
- What do students do after class during the week? What’s a typical day like?
- Do you have any contacts in universities / industries? (Also enquire about which universities their students go on to attend)
- How did the school manage online school during COVID lockdown?
The most important part about visiting a boarding school is to see the boarding environment. Ask about the possibility of visiting the dormitories. Most schools are more than happy to arrange this, so try to see a few of them to get a representative picture of the living situation. You may also wish to ask about any boarding rules (e.g., when and how you can contact your child) and support mechanisms in place for students (e.g., homesickness).
- What proportion of the students are boarders?
- How many international students do you have? (You can also ask about the distribution of nationalities of students).
- Are there any support mechanisms in place for students who are homesick?
- Are students required to have an allocated guardian in the country?
- What’s the food like? (You might want to enquire about the possibility of trying a meal there)
- What kind of weekend activities can students participate in?
- When can I contact my child?
- What policies do you have in place to cope with COVID, are students able to quarantine on the school campus if they test postitive?
Your might be interested in learning more about Malvern College
In addition, you might want to also ask the following:
In case of emergencies:
- What type of medical facilities do you have?
- Where is the nearest hospital?
- Are there trained staff on duty 24/7?
- Where are the nearest shops?
- How far is the city centre from the school?
- Can students leave the school campus and what are the rules associated with that?
- How far to the nearest international airport and how easy is it to get there?
Hopefully the above questions will act as a great starting point in acquainting yourself and your child with the school. Then, if you decide to apply to a particular school, it’s time to see if your child will be offered a place.
Article originally written by Julianna Yau of Ampla Education and updated by Playtimes in June 2022,
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