Boarding at The Geelong College is a life changing experience. For the 100 boarders, from country Victoria, Melbourne, the Surf Coast, Interstate and overseas The Geelong College is a home away from home, a family and a place where they feel confident to push themselves, and to experience new ideas and opportunities.
Cody, a Year 11 student says one of the most interesting things he has learned about himself is that he can push his own personal limits. “I now know I can push above and beyond the limits I had set for myself and change my own perceptions of what I can do. Being challenged every day in things like sport and school work was something that I had to adapt to, but the skills I have learned I will carry on throughout my life.”
Sophie, a Year 10 student also acknowledges that her attitude to goal setting has changed. “I know now that I am capable of reaching my goals and that whatever obstacles are thrown my way I will find a way to overcome them.”
Adrian, a Year 11 student from China has also learned a lot about himself personally since coming to The Geelong College. “My communication skills have improved and I have been challenged to get involved with lots of sports and other activities. I am now playing in the first team for soccer and badminton, which has been a real achievement and taken a lot of work.”
“The boarding experience heightens and consolidates attitudes and ideas learned in our college” say Principal, Andrew Barr. “Learning to challenge yourself, and to develop the confidence and resilience to set goals and to achieve them is one of the cornerstones of our TripleR social and emotional learning program. Students right from Early Learning to Year 12 are developing these skills and attitudes, and are learning to take responsibility for their own learning and for their life.”
The TripleR program is a key part of all learning experiences at The Geelong College, helping students understand the importance of reflection, relationships and resilience. Through this program students are exposed to new attitudes, issues and ideas, and are challenged to consider their personal values and the relationships in their lives. Importantly, they are asked to set goals and consciously reflect on their efforts and achievements, or failures, and to take responsibility for their personal outcomes.
Mimi, a Year 10 student from rural New South Wales has been a boarder for two years and has developed both personal responsibility and broadened her horizons since coming to the College. “I am certainly more independent and responsible now, with money, public transport and school work. Living with so many girls from different backgrounds has made me much more tolerant and empathetic, you just never know what other people are going through, but when you live with them you begin to understand just how different each person’s life is and to support them no matter what. The Community Service program I did this year in Lilla, a small aboriginal community in Central Australia really reinforced this for me and made me realise how lucky I am and how I can make a difference.”
Friendships in the boarding house are different to everyday friendships and it’s not difficult to understand why. “When you live with a group of people you really learn to understand them and the friendships you develop are deeper, I am sure I will have many of my boarding friends for life” Georgia, a Year 11 students says.
“I am sure that when I think of my school days I will think of the banter between mates in the boarding house, at meals, during sport and other activities” says Adrian. “I will keep these friendships close, no matter where we end up.”
Sophie explains how learning life lessons with fellow boarders makes the friendships more like a family relationship. “When I consider the things I have learned with the girls in Mossgiel (the girls’ boarding house) it’s no wonder we are so close. From the early morning alarms for sport training, how to work a washing machine and averting a financial crisis without telling your parents, to how to help someone who is homesick or having a hard time, these are life lessons, things that you would often do with your family. As an only child I am so fortunate that I have my boarding family as well as my own family.”
Academically The Geelong College boarders do very well. Most attribute the change in their results to less distractions, dedicated study time and help from tutors, but also the broad range of learning opportunities offered. “I have learned so much from the extra opportunities that most schools don’t offer. I do sport, music, community service and have had amazing experiences traveling to Central Australia to live and work with the Angangu people and to stay overseas with friends from the boarding house,” says Ben, a Year 11 student from Warrnambool. “I also study with friends and learn from them. With 100 of us, there is always someone who can help me with a certain subject or offer different perspective.”
Students are encouraged to share their learning and to help each other. College Psychologist Cathie Thornton believes this culture of learning is incredibly important. “Teenagers need different types of support to help them achieve, and peer support is really important. It’s often really hard to work with your friends and class mates outside of school time because of travel and other commitments, but fellow boarders who have been in the classroom with you can often help explain concepts or challenge your ideas. They can also act as a reminder service which definitely helps to reduce stress. With boarding, students have plenty of opportunities to discuss their studies or work together during meals and free time, and really benefit from it.”
The Geelong College aims to be an innovative and caring community of learners committed to making a positive difference to an ever changing world. Principal, Andrew Barr says, “Our boarders are really encouraged to get involved in all aspects of their learning, to challenge themselves and to see the world with a view to how they can make it a better place. Life at The Geelong College is both fulfilling and special and for boarders, this is their world.”
The Geelong College is a Uniting Church coeducational school from Early Learning to Year 12, with Boarding from Year 7. Regular Open Days are held throughout the year with student led tours of the school and the boarding houses. Visit www.geelongcollege.vic.edu.au to find out more.