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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Board Schools - 1766 words
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Board SchoolsFor most people boarding schools conjure up thoughts of young men in navyblue blazers with white shirts and a tie going to a beautiful school with ivycovered walls and the game of polo being played in the distance. Oh, and don'tforget thoughts of parents with fat wallets and a family trust fund. This iswhat Gordon Vink, the director of admissions at Mercersburg Academy inPennsylvania, calls the "Holden Caufield-Catcher in the Rye syndrome"(Parker111), a book about the troubles a boy faces at his prep boarding school. To an extent the image holds true. Prep schools offer collegiate typeatmospheres, have strict rules, and often teach generations of students from thesame families. The simplest definition of a boarding school is a place thatparents pay for a stodent to live and go to school.
The school's teachers,coaches, and administrators live in dormitories with boarders and act as theirfamily enforcing the strict rules, making disciplinary decisions, and overseeingbehavior and academic performance. Boarding schools can be one or all of the following: academic boot camp,a place for parents to put kids they don't want around or don't have the timefor, a haven from deteriorating public schools, a necessary credential forchildren of the rich and famous, or a training ground for tomorrow's leaders.These schools range from small unknown institutions which will accept anyone, tothe elite schools, which are very selective and are a pipeline to Ivy-leagueschools and success. Boarding schools are superior to public day schools. Proponents ofboarding prep schools claim the schools offer unparalled discipline, a strongercurriculum, exellent facilities, a way to get in to better colleges, a superiorlearning environment, staggering extra-curricular options, and allow students toattain a higher level of performance. Opponents argue that the astronomicalcost, anywhere from $8000 to $25,000 per year for the most elite, is tooexpensive. They also claim the rules are too extreme and suffocating, and thatstudents experience an abundance of stress
The biggest argument against boarding schools is cost. With an averagecost of $8000 to $25,000 (Topolnicki 100), many parents ask: Are privateboarding schools worth the expense? The extra attention and frills don't comecheap. "It's like buying stock or a new house," says private school consultantGeorgia Irvin. "It's a major investment." (Parker 111) But many boardingschools have been working hard to increase their financial aid and to structurenew methods of payment. Pricey prep schools are more likely to givescholarships.
Sixteen percent of students who attend get financial aid, whichaverages $5,400 a year. ( Topolnicki 101) Boarders also must consider what theyare getting - tuition and all living expenses. "Just think about how much fooda typical teenager eats," Susan Laittus says. She pays $21,000 a year for herchild to go to boarding school. She feels no price is too high when thinking ofher children's future. That $21,000 also gives her child access to a privatebeach, surfing classes, and a recreation room with an ocean view.
Onealternative to get a similar education is to move to an advantaged public schoolsystem, but then there are high property taxes to pay and the average homecosts between $125,000 to $500,000 in such affluent neighborhoods. (Topplnicki100) If the costs can be overcome, then a private boarding school is worthevery penny. Another problem is the system of rules the schools use. Boardingschools generally plan every hour in the student's day. From wake up to lightsout, every hour in the student's life is set.
At Exeter Boarding School in NewHampshire, classes start before 8:00 AM and often don't wind up until 6:00 PM.(Morgan 103) Jenny Cantrell's first discovery at Mercersburg Academy inPennsylvania was the school rule book. Jenny had to be at dinner from 6:20 PMuntil 6:50 PM, then have study time from 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM. After 10:45 PMshe was expected to be in her room. On weekends she has to sign in at her dormbetween 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM to report where she would be until her 11:00 PMcurfew. You can't just leave to see a movie if you are tired of doingschoolwork. This loss of personal freedom often leads to severe stress.(Cookson 33) In his study of American private schools, Peter W.
Cookson reportsthat teachers talk of "corks popping" and "freak outs". Leonard Baird foundthat "Nearly half of the students were bothered very much by pressures of theirhighly regulated environment." He could not state the exact number of prepschool students who need or seek counseling to deal with this stress. But hedoes know the schools consider it an important problem, shown by their elaboratecounseling systems. Unfortunately, offering counseling in itself is not enoughfor many students. Boys in particular seem to fear asking for psychologicalhelp.
Boys are supposed to present themselves as in control. If a boy shows heis in trouble, what would his faculty or college counselors think? Thepenalties for breaking the rules are as strict as the rules themselves.Expulsion, probation, and disciplinary restrictions are common punishments. Atthese schools one infraction, especially a serious one such as drug use, isenough to get you kicked out. Many parents, however, feel the structured life promotes self disciplineand independence. A disciplined way of life is just what Dale Stinger and hiswife want for their 13 year old son. "We like the regimented schedule which ismore than what the public school can give him.
(Liu F10) However, with all therules, kids are still pretty much on their own. They have to takeresponsibility for their actions, and as a result there is a certain maturity inboarders. "Personally, now I can deal with any person or situation that comesalong," says 17 year old Laura King. All these rules are part of the sacrifice prep students are expected tomake in preparation for the privileged positions they will hold in society. Inexchange for their loss of freedom, prep students earn a right to membership inthe privileged "higher group" and come to believe that they deserve certainprivileges because of the high personal price they paid.
The present pain forfuture gain thought holds true. Prep school graduates are disproportionatelyinfluential in business, banking, and law. Seventeen percent of the rare groupof people who are board members of two or more major corporations graduated fromone of thirteen elite prep schools. (Cookson 31) Cookson claims, "Theirinfluence on contemporary American culture is widespread." Part of these people's success can be attributed to an environment thatis conducive to learning. Most parents equate small classes with 15 or sochildren, each being given individual attention by the teacher, with qualityeducation.
The average boarding school class is 9-17 students. (Topolnicki 100)Because students live at school, teachers are more readily available to givehelp after class hours. Private schools also don't have to compete with thepublic school's open door policy. Private schools not only have the ability toselect students, but also to remove troublemakers who get in. Public schoolsadministrators must face a mountain of paperwork and bureaucracy to removeunruly students even temporarily. As a result of their power, private schoolsreport only the occasional fist fight or act of vandalism.
By being able toselect students, private boarding schools only have students who want to bethere. Elite boarding schools only accept on average fifteen percent ofapplicants. (Morgan 103) To get in an applicant must take the SSAT, writeessays, submit recommendations from teachers, visit the school for a personalinterview, and pay a $30.00 application fee. As can be seen, only wellmotivated students can manage to get in. Those that do get in tend to stimulateeach other to succeed.
The competitive atmosphere is an advantage that publicschools lack. The facilities that a private school has to offer can only be matched byvery advantaged public schools such as Beverly Hills High. Most prep schoolshave campuses complete with playing fields, art studios, and well stockedlibraries, not to mention the beautifully manicured campuses and living quarters.One elite school had an indoor swimming pool, a greenhouse, facilities forevery sport imaginable, and a cable television studio. Boarding schools have long emphasized the extras. Garrison ForrestSchool near Baltimore has the nation's only all-girls' high school polo team.(Parker 111) Although very few private schools can round up enough of theirbusy students to have more than a few sports, they often have many unique clubsthat can be joined. Private Orangewood Adventist Academy in Garden Grove,California plays only four sports - football, baseball, basketball, andvolleyball. However, the school does have clubs for hikers, scuba divers, androck climbers - all activities that don't require a crowd. (Topolnicki 100) The most important reason that boarding schools are superior to publicschools is that students there perform better than students at public schools.Prep schools boasted the highest SAT scores, ranging from 1000 to 1300.(Topolnicki 99) The prep schools, which by their name are in the business ofpreparing students for college, send virtually every student to selectivecolleges. Although prep schools are not teaching as diverse a group as publicschools, their students clearly outperform average and disadvantaged publicschools who average SAT scores of 790 to 986 and 757 to 948 respectively.(Topolnicki 99) Prep schools offer more challenging courses than public schools do.Advance Placement (AP) courses, such as calculus and computer science, whichcount for college credit, are usually some of the most challenging classes astudent can take.
Of the 29 AP courses recognized by colleges, prep schoolstypically offer 10 to 15 compared with 0 to 5 for average public schools.(Topolnicki 100) In conclusion, private boarding schools are far superior to publicschools even with the high cost, rules, and stress. They offer a betterlearning environment, disciplined life style, better curriculum and activities,and immaculate facilities. They can also choose which students will attendtheir school. Public schools lack a student body brimming with eager children.In her book The Classrooms of Miss Ellen Frankfort, Confessions of a PrivateSchool Teacher, Miss Frankfort said that unless there is an advantaged publicschool in her community, she will send her children to a private boarding school.She feels that this kind of school would do a better of educating her childrenand give them a "more enlightened world perspective". She likes the smallerclasses and ability for the schools to bypass the "bureaucratic machinery". Sheappreciates that people are paid to worry for you - it's their job.
Parents areassured that there is a commitment to the student and his or her future, which,if the school has anything to do with it, should be bright.Work CitedCookson, Peter. "The Price of Privilege". Psychology Today (March1986): 31-35. Rpt. in SCHOOL.
vol. 3. Ed.Eleanor Goldstein. Boca Raton, FL: Social Issues Resources Series Inc.,1993. Art. 44.Frankfort, Ellen. The Classrooms of Miss Ellen Frankfort, Confessionsof a Private School Teacher. New Jersey: Prentiss-Hall Inc., 1970.Liu, Caitlin. "Boarding Schools: Higher Education at a Higher Cost".The San Diego Union-Tribune 9 August 1994: F10.Morgan, Leslie.
"Boarding Schools". Seventeen October 1991: 102-105.Parker, Amy. "Away At School". Washingtonian. November 1992: 111-112.Topolnicki, Denise M.
"Why Private Schools Are Rarely Worth the Money".Money (October 1994): 98-101. Rpt. in SCHOOL. vol. 5.Ed.
Eleanor Goldstein. Boca Raton, FL: Social IssuesResources Series Inc., 1993.
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