You're Off to Boarding School for the First Time! Shake Off the Jitters With This Advice

Stories, know-how, and guidance from the experts in educating boys.

Oliver Rothmann

You're Off to Boarding School for the First Time! Shake Off the Jitters With This Advice

Summer is nearing an end, and in just a few short days you'll be heading off to boarding school for the first time! With the prospect of immersing yourself in a new living and learning environment, take some time to check in with yourself: How are you feeling? ...Excited? ...Nervous? ...Unsure? Rest assured, however it is that you're feeling, your emotions are completely normal.

Fortunately, the beginning of a new school year presents timely opportunities for everyone involved — whether you're a rookie student or a veteran returning senior. Even so, arriving on a new campus can be especially nerve-wracking for students living away from home for the first time — no matter their age. To help you ease some of the new-student jitters, we've gathered some advice some things to keep in mind as you prepare for your first few days at a boarding school.


Less is More

When packing for boarding school, bring the essentials: bedding, snacks, toiletries, towels, clothing, and dorm decorations. Most schools will present students with several opportunities to purchase school supplies and dorm extras on or off campus. For instance, during the first few weeks of school, Avon Old Farms, the CT private boarding school for boys, sends several busloads of students off campus to surrounding shopping centers where the boys can purchase additional items for their rooms. Generally, short excursions also give the students an opportunity to bond in their joint efforts to make their dorm rooms into their home.


Think about it. You've been given an amazing chance to refine and maybe even reinvent yourself. Starting over at boarding school is a prime opportunity to reflect on who you are versus who you want to be.  Own your boarding school experience. Start by asking yourself:

  • What do you like about yourself?
  • What do you want to change?
  • What are your goals for this year?

This New England boarding school, Avon Old Farms, practices mindfulness in the classroom by taking an inward breath and reflecting within. Using a mindful moment of intent, take some time to ponder your past and think about your future. You're being presented with a wonderful opportunity to grow and excel in many areas. Now is the time to empower yourself to make the most of your experience away at school. 


Most boarding schools have carefully planned orientation schedules designed to “break the ice” between new students from varying backgrounds. Many students claim they discovered their best friends during orientation. At Avon Old Farms, orientation activities are built into the first week new boys arrive on campus. Activities include trips to the ropes course, paintball, theme parks, and our annual field day, where students and faculty bond over fun competition and a barbeque.


Key Takeaway

Remember that everyone is in the same boat. When all of the new students are gathered together, most, if not all of you, are living away from home for the first time. Use this experience as a way to bond with others. Try to be as outgoing as possible, knowing that you are sharing the same feelings with those around you. Don't be afraid to ask: "Hey, where are you from?" Or, "Hey, what classes are you taking this year?" All it takes is one question to spark a friendship that may last a lifetime!

Learn More About Avon Old Farms


About the Author


Avon Old Farms Class of 2011