One of the most common reasons teenagers choose to attend boarding school is to gain independence. Boarding school is often the first time students find themselves away from their families. While many students go to sleepaway camp or other short-term summer experiences away from home, boarding school is a completely different experience. A year at Lawrenceville means students spend nine months truly away from their families, friends, and home, only getting to visit every once in a while. While this may seem daunting or unusual, especially for II Formers, many of whom are only 14 years old, students shouldn’t focus on what they’re leaving behind but instead think about the new experiences and relationships that they’ll forge at school.
In the first few months, students will meet countless new faces and try many new activities that help block out the feeling of homesickness. However, some students will find that connecting with others and making friends is a challenging task, especially in a new environment. At times, students may feel out of place on campus and turn to their friends and family at home. However, it’s important to balance between staying connected and feeling supported as opposed to developing a reliance on parents and friends at home.
Lilah Firestone ’25, a returning IV Former who entered Lawrenceville as a new III Former, and Anne Clifford-Levy, a returning III Former, both dealt with feelings of homesickness at some point in their first year. While her first year at Lawrenceville was initially exciting, as the year “transitioned into more of a routine,” Firestone began to battle with homesickness. Firestone emphasized that “everyone experiences this transition together in II Form year, but as a new III Former, it is easy to feel alone amidst that struggle.” She advises students to look out for and be empathetic with each other, since no one knows what others are dealing with. Clifford-Levy ’26, who was separated from her twin brother for the first time in coming to Lawrenceville, felt that the beginning of the year was a “big adjustment.” She turned to talking with friends and sharing stories about memories from home at Lawrenceville. Clifford-Levy also advises new students to “be open about homesickness and talk about it with [their] new friends because, not only does it lessen those emotions [of homesickness], but it also helps [students] connect with friends and grow those relationships.” As students build new relationships and create new memories, they will become more comfortable at Lawrenceville, but it’s important to recognize the time needed for the transition to happen.
Students attending boarding school for the first time are presumably ready to make the big transition to living away from home, but when they finally arrive at school, anything can happen as feelings and emotions change. The most important thing for new students to remember is to make friends with as many people as they can, and connect with others. It’s always helpful to remind yourself that others are going through homesickness too. By having a good foundation of friends that can help students feel more comfortable, and having people to rely on when problems occur, students can truly make Lawrenceville feel like a second home.