BOARDING SCHOOLS are worlds of their own, an intense experience which people tend to love or hate. Imagine it. Not just going to classes at school, but eating there, sleeping there, playing sport, spending weekends there and - hopefully - making friends there. And adjusting to culture shock at the same time. Those who love boarding school say the benefits include the potential to make close friendships and form a wide contact network. Boarders develop independence by living away from home and can become more tolerant through sharing space with large numbers of other people. Boarders can sometimes use facilities such as swimming pools, music rooms, computer laboratories, libraries and tennis courts outside class hours. Teachers can offer help outside school hours. And there is no wasted time getting to and from the campus. However institutional living is not for everyone. Boarders live by schedules and rules. Schools vary, but bells ring when it is time to eat, do homework, go to church/chapel and wake up in the morning. It is not as flexible as home life. Those who dislike boarding school sometimes compare it to jail. Like all schools, boarding schools can have cliques, bullies and weird traditions - but unlike other schools there is no daily escape to a family environment. If you decide to go to boarding school, remember they are different. Some are rural, some city-based. Some are co-educational, others single sex. Some, such as Eton, have international reputations. Ask questions about the daily routine, accommodation, telephone and internet access, academic results, opportunities to leave campus, the number of international students and how many are full boarders.