Author Interview: Local Teen Discusses Boarding School Book

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A local teen has some survival tips for students interested attending boarding school.

Justin Muchnick — Photo by Kate Houlihan ©
Justin Muchnick
— Photo by Kate Houlihan ©

Justin Muchnick, 16, a Harbor Day School graduate and current sophomore at Phillips Academy Andover boarding school in Boston, wrote “The Boarding School Survival Guide” to give students and parents a helping hand navigating the world of boarding school.

Last year, Muchnick co-authored “Straight-A Study Skills” with his mother, Cindy, a Stanford University graduate and former college admission counselor and educational consultant.

The Newport Beach native draws on his personal experience for the book, which is written in a “fun, easy-to-read manner.”


Q: In your own words, give a brief description of what the book is about.

A: The Boarding School Survival Guide is basically a resource guide for anyone interested in learning more about the boarding school experience. It is meant to be a candid look at the boarding school experience today, and it’s ideal for current and prospective students, parents, or anyone just curious about this unique world. It is written entirely by students who share their experiences and stories about various aspects of boarding school life. There are more than twenty boarding schools represented in the book, and the student contributors are from over a dozen different states and countries.


Q: What prompted you to write this book?

A: I wish there had been a book like this out when I was researching and applying to boarding schools, since there was only so much information I could gather from admission officers and official school websites. As boarding school is such an important investment on so many different levels (financial, emotional, etc.), I think it’s really important for students (and parents) to hear about boarding school from other students who are living or have just lived the boarding school life.


Q: What does this mean to you?

A: I feel a sense of accomplishment from writing this book. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to take it from just an idea to the final book format. I came up with the concept, put together the proposal, found a publisher, wrote three pieces of the book (the introduction, first chapter, and resource guide), collected and edited essays, obtained consent forms, and dedicated hundreds of hours to this true labor of love. I wrote this book to help others contemplating the same path I am currently taking, and I’m proud to say that I was able to put together this resource.


Q: What makes this unique?

A: Up until now, it’s been pretty hard to find a lot of information about boarding schools unless you personally know someone that has attended one. This project is unique in that it not only fills this void with important information, but it does so by means of genuine student perspectives, anecdotes, and advice.


Q: Do you have plans to write more?

A: I do have a summer writing project in the works, but nothing official yet that I can reveal. For now, I’m mainly focused on promoting and sharing The Boarding School Survival Guide.


Q: Anything you would like to add?

A: I am using a portion of my earnings to award two readers with $1000 scholarships to put towards their boarding school tuition. Details are in the back of the book.


For more information, like “The Boarding School Survival Guide” on Facebook and follow @BoardingSchl on Twitter, or email Muchnick at [email protected].

Muchnick will be reading and signing copies of the book at Barnes & Noble Metro Pointe in Costa Mesa on June 8 from 1-3 p.m. For details, visit

To read columnist Edie Crabtree’s review, click here.

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