Going to a new school is often scary for students, so we polled our student body to find out what the top 10 most common new student fears are and their advice for addressing those fears.
1. Making new friends and fitting in
At Saint James School, all new students are assigned a "Big Sib" and a faculty adviser to help them navigate their new school environment. New and returning students have plenty of opportunities to mix and mingle in athletics, organized dorm activities, seated meals, and countless other events both during Welcome Week and year-round.
2. Time management and adjusting to a more difficult course load
While the academic schedule at boarding school is rigorous, we are here to help! Students' schedules typically include daytime study hall periods to help them get their work done. Our small class sizes allow students to get additional help both in and outside the classroom. Many teachers hold extra help sessions in the evenings or after school. Faculty advisers help track the overall well being and progress of each student in their advisee group (max. 7 per faculty member), and our Academic Support Office can provide additional services, at a cost, should these be required.
3. Required athletics every season
In addition to academic requirements, all Saint James students are required to participate in three sports, one per season. For many students, this requires them to do something entirely new and outside their comfort zone. The ability and willingness of students to try new things is highly praised at Saint James, and we always strive to provide a safe and encouraging environment for this process to occur.
4. Dress code and wearing or packing the right thing
At Saint James School, students follow a dress code, rather than wear a uniform. The dress code is clearly outlined in our student handbook which is available online. A packing list is also provided online. When in doubt, new students can always ask a prefect, Big Sib, or returning student for guidance about what to wear.
5. Living away from home and being homesick
Being homesick is common among both new and returning students at boarding school. Living away from home takes some adjusting, but again, we're here to help! About 95% of our faculty live on campus and approximately 75% of the student body board. For most of us, this is our home away from home, and we do our best to make sure everyone is happy, safe, and cared for. Big Sibs, prefects, faculty advisers, and pastoral group all help look after the well-being of our community. Learning independent living skills now, in a supportive high school, is great preparation for college living!
6. Roommates/shared living spaces
Boarding life at Saint James School is very supportive and open. Most rooms are doubles, which makes learning to live with someone else a must. Students here are approachable and easy to talk to, and prefects and dorm parents are always available to help facilitate difficult conversations or situations that you may run into. For many, having a roommate is a totally new experience, but this is where many deep, lifelong friendships begin.
7. Food (will it be good and what if I don't like it?!)
Saint James School works with Sage dining services to offer a wide variety of options at meals. Sage prides itself on offering students raw, fresh, local foods prepared on site and served fresh to our students. Learn more about dining services at Saint James.
8. Knowing all the rules/getting in trouble for breaking a rule I didn't even know about!
Students are expected to follow the rules of Saint James School both on and off campus. Rules are clearly explained in the student handbook, which every student receives at the start of the year. Both new and returning students have sessions during Welcome Week to remind them of expected conduct and behavior. These concepts are reinforced by chapel talks, adviser discussions, and by prefects, dorm heads and faculty throughout the year.
Saint James students and faculty attend chapel daily. It is unifying to begin our day together, and typically, services last about 20 minutes. Wednesdays we enjoy a full hour-long Eucharist, and while our services follow the Episcopal tradition, we welcome students of all faiths. Watch this short video to learn more about spiritual life at Saint James.
10. Getting lost
Saint James School is easy to navigate, and students have all of Welcome Week to become familiar with campus. Additionally, Big Sibs help new students find their classrooms and introduce them to faculty at the beginning of the year.