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Suite I
Asheville, NC 28806
(828) 225-3770

Residential Life Consulting

Preparing Today’s Students

Boarding schools are excellent for instilling a strong work ethic, and a strong educational foundation. Preparing students for the 21st century workplace is the mandate of college preparatory schools. These excellent institutions have a strong track record of achieving this goal. The workplace, however, has changed, and pressures for areas other than work have the potential to erode those gains.

Residential education program are often experienced by students with a lack of resonance and the subsequent glassy-eyed stare. Those who develop such programs are often a few years behind the student’s understanding of the challenges they face.

Risk Behavior Assessment Surveys

Thomas Sherry & Associates helps schools conduct periodic anonymous behavior survey of their particular student population.  Data complied from such a survey can help target the challenges your students actually face, adding resonance to your curriculum and their preparation for college life. We can provide services from the level of consultation for administering such a survey, to data analysis and report writing.

Formal ‘Student Life’ Educational Programs

Most residential or student life programs focus on traditional risk concerns including drugs, sex, and alcohol and sometimes cheating. However, the landscape of risk has changed. Current residential programs could benefit from the inclusion of topics related to:

  • Computer Use
  • Sleeping Habits
  • Honesty
  • Media Literacy
  • Violence
  • Impulsivity and Delay Gratification
  • Recreation and Time Management

When I speak with schools about these ideas, most agree that addressing these student needs is important. However, such statements are usually followed by, “but when?”

The daily schedule of boarding school is notoriously jam-packed. Finding time to incorporate new elements into the schools program is a significant challenge. Academics and athletics appropriately take top priority. However, our current social climate demands that the value of residential and “life education” needs to be reconsidered.

Thomas Sherry & Associates can help your school design a formal “student life” program that meets student needs without overtaxing an already taxed daily schedule.

Faculty Education and Informal Teacher Student Communication

The bulk of this “education” takes place between the informal contact between students and teachers. This level of relationship and communication is another aspect of what makes boarding so remarkably successful. However, teacher’s assumptions of ‘average’ student risk behavior tend to be skewed to the negative. Teachers tend to overestimate the number of students who drink or use drugs. This kind of misinformation changes the context of many informal conversations and can tend to ‘normalize’ risk behavior.

When we talk about residential curricula it is essential to include faculty education. How often is your faculty apprised of the most recent data about adolescent behavior? In the absence of such information, teachers rely on a “gut instinct” or anecdotal evidence that is often inaccurate.

Accurate data about student behavior, quality teacher education, and focusing on student needs is a necessary component to any educational program if a school is to properly prepare students for the world that awaits them.

Thomas Sherry & Associates encourages every school to reconsider this priority and can help them meet this new and demanding challenge.
Copyright 2009 Thomas Sherry & Associates