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First Time at Boarding School: 8 Ways to Beat the Pre-Arrival Jitters

Let’s face it: starting at a new school is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Starting a boarding school adds a whole new level to those emotions–especially if you’re starting mid-year, as so many students are about to do this month.

How do you make sure that this adventure is a successful one for you? Here is some advice about how to help calm those condors fluttering around in your stomach, and help you have a great start:

  1. Keep an open and positive attitude. Know that others are going through the same thing you are, and every other student was also new to boarding school at some point. Everyone, students and adults, understands and are willing to help you.
  2. Read all you can about every aspect of the school on the school website.  
  3. Find something to get involved in before you arrive, and learn all you can about it.
  4. Check out the student manual or handbook online. Student handbooks make great bedtime reading for when you have trouble falling asleep. Just don’t worry about the rules just yet–you’ll have time to learn those. Really, the advantage of getting the student handbook ahead of itme is to get a feel for the daily schedule and some of the school policies. If it helps make you less nervous, read it. If it makes you more nervous, don’t read it!
  5. Use social media! Visit the R-MA Facebook page, follow us on Twitter or Instagram, and watch some of our YouTube videos.  
  6. Contact the admission office and ask to be connected to current students. Make sure you let the office know how you would prefer the students contact you (E-mail, phone call, texting, Snapchat…)
  7. E-mail the dorm supervisors.  (For R-MA, you can find the e-mail addresses here.) They are the ones that you will be seeing on a daily basis and are there to help you succeed. If you haven’t gotten the name of your dorm supervisor yet, you can use the group emails for the R-MA Middle School dorm or Upper School dorm staff to introduce yourself and get their names. 
  8. Visit the school early and take a walk around campus—if you haven’t had a tour yet, call the Admission Office at 540-636-5484 to schedule one! 

Bonus! Here are four tips to being successful at boarding school for after you finally arrive!

  1. Be kind and respectful at all times.  This applies to adults and fellow students. It will take you a long way.
  2. Be where you are supposed to be on time. Ask folks how to find things whenever you need to, and allow youself plenty of time to take a turn down a wrong hallway. It’s better to show up early than to arrive late and flustered!
  3. Be the best version of yourself. This is a new place, where no one knows you. I can’t speak for other boarding schools, but if you’ve gotten into R-MA, you’re a good student or you have the potential to be one, and you have a good behavior record. You’ve demonstrated a desire to be here. Own it. Set your goals and honor them.
  4. Have fun! It’s boarding school. You’re in a dorm with the people who are, or will become, some of the best friends of your life. Enjoy every moment!


Updated from a blog originally posted 8/12/2011.