I realize that many students probably won't read this article, mainly because I haven't published it on TikTok or Instagram. So, this is for all the parents, grandparents, and family friends out there who know a young person heading off to private school. Use these talking points to guide your conversations with that young person when the opportunity presents itself. If you went to private school, have fun embellishing these talking points with your own experiences. After all, you know what you're talking about. Gossip and misinformation about what goes on at private school abound. But you know the truth. You are credible, even if you attended private school thirty years ago.
Participate! Prticipate! Participate!
One of the best things about private school is that there are many things to do. Did you notice that I commanded you to participate three times? That's because a private school offers a balanced approach to your education. You have three very full plates! Academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities. And you can't avoid any of them. They are all compulsory. Each part of your private school education is kind of like one of those enormous buffets you see set out for brunch. You can't eat it all. But you can eat what you want. That's essentially the way things work at private school. Academics are pretty much set in stone, although you will make some choices in your high school years. As far as athletics and extracurricular activities are concerned, you will have plenty of options. Make the most of them. Try an activity you have never tried before. Play a sport you have never played before. You won't be alone. And you will have a lot of fun.
Ask questions. Be yourself. Communicate with your teachers.
One of the many neat things about going to private school is that your classmates are there to learn. It's cool to learn. And, if you are a genius at a particular subject or activity, you will be admired. Not made fun of. So, ask questions. Lots of questions. Your teachers, coaches, and activities supervisors love what they do. They are also very knowledgeable. Best of all, they will not put you down or make fun of you when you make a mistake. That's not the way private schools work. So, be yourself. When you don't understand something, ask your teacher or coach. She will explain whatever it is that you don't understand.
This video explains the conference method of teaching and how it encourages participation by every student.
Develop efficient study habits.
One of the things you will learn in private school is how to manage your time. The academic load is heavy. I remember asking my eldest daughter how she enjoyed her English literature class in 10th grade at her boarding school. Specifically, I asked which Shakespeare play they were reading. "Oh, Dad! We are reading three Shakespeare plays this year. One each semester." In her public high school, her class struggled to get through one Shakespear play over an entire year. There will be many essays, pop quizzes, and reports to study for in every subject. You will learn how to study and manage your time efficiently. That will prove a valuable tool in whatever career you take up.
This video explains how to develop efficient study habits.
Use your breaks to travel or attend an enrichment course.
You will have several weeks after Christmas and several months after school lets out in early June to travel or attend an enrichment course. Travel? First, explore the historic sites and monuments within a hundred-mile radius of your home. Then venture further afield. Consider it carefully when your school offers an educational trip to a foreign country.
Another way to spend the long summer break is to attend an enrichment course at a college or university. Spending a week or two at a residential college studying acting or robotics or whatever you have in mind is a beautiful way to spend your summer. You will also experience living and learning in a college setting. That will give you a taste of what awaits you after graduating from high school.
Make new friends.
I've saved the most challenging question for the last. "I won't know anybody there. I'll miss my friends." Those are typical teenage concerns. Fortunately, she will find herself making new friends, indeed, friends for life, very quickly in private school. Her classmates will have similar interests and will enjoy many things she does. Moreover, these will be friends for life.
The other point I want to make about making new friends is that you don't have to be intimidated by upperclassmen. That's not the way a 21st-century private school works. The school is a community. Members of the community respect each other. From the head of school down to the crew who keep the grounds, everybody respects members of the school community.
This video offers some tips on how to make new friends at school.
Don't forget to have fun.
Finally, it's fun to learn. It's fun to be part of a community that encourages academic excellence balanced with participation in sports and extracurricular activities. It's fun to be with others who are eager to learn. It's fun to be with others who wish to excel! So, don't forget to have fun.
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