I wrote a letter to the editor at the South China Morning Post in response to Kelly Yang's column "Think Twice before Farming out Parental Duties to Boarding Schools." It was published in the paper and the website today, Tuesday April 21.
Here is a link. Full text is below:
In reply to Kelly Yang's column, "Think twice before farming out parental duties to boarding schools" (April 1), I would say think twice before dismissing these schools.
I graduated from Phillips Academy Andover and then Harvard University in 2009. Despite what her article might lead your readers to think, my time at Andover was not dominated by substance abuse; I was not sexually harassed; I maintain a close relationship with my mother. I had a great boarding school experience, and I am not the exception to the rule.
If Yang's issue is with sending students to boarding school too young, then she should narrow the scope of her argument instead of making sweeping criticisms of boarding school.
She says boarding school is recommended when a student is internally motivated to apply. Of course, it would be great if all 13-year-olds knew exactly what they wanted, but that is rarely the case. Parents are often the ones to find, and then direct and nurture, ambitions and opportunities for their children. I did not know much about Andover before my mother suggested applying. That does not mean it was the wrong choice for me, or that I gained less from attending than a student who knew of the opportunity earlier.
Boarding schools are not the only places where dangers lurk. School administrations need to be held accountable for punishing and weeding out threats. That does not mean boarding school as a concept is flawed.
In the end, top boarding schools will accept students who are likely to flourish and willing to attend.
Families should be realistic and informed when applying, and of course prioritise the student's needs. On the other hand, parents thinking about boarding schools should realise they will miss their child immensely. Though my mother does not regret her decision, she does regret that we missed out on some of the last years we could have lived together under the same roof.
Juli Min, New York
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Many young people continue to flourish in boarding schools