Students who graduate from alternative boarding schools are uniquely prepared for the independence of college life.
High school students and their parents often read college acceptance letters as an indicator of college readiness, but in reality, the grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities that help a student get into college don’t always equip them to succeed once they arrive on-campus. Succeeding in college requires a balance of academic aptitude and emotional independence — the latter of which is understandably more difficult to evaluate on an application.
In fact, research has shown that lack of emotional independence may be one reason why a majority of students who enroll in four-year colleges aren’t able to graduate in four years, and why more than half of students who start a four- or two-year college drop out within six years. While college success rates are low, they haven’t always indicated a veritable crisis: when college was more affordable, students had more flexibility to enroll and see whether they would “sink or swim.”
Now, however, students who leave college without a degree in hand are arguably worse off than they would be if they’d never enrolled in college at all. The average college dropout owes $13,929.65 in student loan debt, and almost 70% believe they could repay their loans faster if they had a degree.
For these reasons, preventing college dropout — not just ensuring college admission — should be top of mind for parents and schools alike. Having the on-paper grades and scores to get into college is an important first step, but the maturity and independence necessary to succeed there tend to be more difficult to cultivate.
Students who attend alternative boarding schools are often uniquely prepared for the challenges of college life, both academically and emotionally. Let’s explore why that is:
Safely Fostering Independence
For many students, their first weeks on a college campus are the first weeks they’ve ever spent away from home and family. Students who graduate from an alternative boarding school like Oli, on the other hand, have the advantage of being accustomed to independence.
That doesn’t mean that Oli students simply endure the difficult transition of leaving home four years earlier than kids who take a “traditional” path to college. Rather, Oliverian serves as a stepping stone into college, offering a comprehensive support framework and one-on-one attention that universities do not.
Even more importantly, Oli is structured in such a way that the more time a student spends here, they less support they need. We focus on teaching students strategies to cope with homesickness, anxiety, or other harmful behaviors on their own, identifying and addressing their challenging thoughts, attitudes, or actions without the help of their parents.
That focus on independence extends to academics at Oli, as well. Many students find themselves struggling to manage and keep up with their own schedule when they arrive at college, or lack the self-management skills needed to complete their college coursework without their parents’ reminders.
At Oli, we encourage students to discover how they learn, what strategies they can employ to succeed, and how they can cope with stress. While we’re always there to provide academic support along the way, we’re working to put ourselves out of the job, giving our students more independence and autonomy as they demonstrate their readiness for it.
College is a departure from high school primarily because it allows for academic self-direction and social independence. Oli simulates both of these conditions in a safe and supportive environment — preparing graduates to succeed in college from the moment they step on campus.