Are These 3 Fictional Schools Really All They’re Cracked Up To Be?

Got the back to school blues? That’s normal- even the most bookish of us would rather lose ourselves in a good novel than knuckle down with a textbook. Well, take heart that at least your high school or college is probably a lot more peaceful than any of these fictional institutions.

1. The School at the Chalet by Elinor Brent-Dyer- The Chalet School

There are almost sixty books in the Chalet School series, and due to the political climate in Europe at the time of publishing, the school changed location several times. The one I’m talking about is the original, located in the Austrian Tyrol in the 1920’s. Possibly the grandmother of boarding school books for girls (although I’m sure people of all genders have enjoyed them), the exploits of the Chalet School’s pupils are fairly tame.


  • Sisterhood and girl power. Got lost up a mountain? Abandoned by your parents? Don’t give it another thought, your friends will no doubt save the day.
  • No pressure to drink, do drugs, or party. A product of its time, sassing a teacher was the most scandalous of behaviors.
  • The stunning location, nestled in the heart of the Alps, and exposure to other languages and cultures.


  • Strict rules. Every moment of the week was planned out for these girls, and they were supervised for almost all of them. A little teenage rebellion is healthy, but trying telling that to those old English schoolmarms.
  • Homesickness. This could be said of all boarding schools, but the Chalet School was just average, with no magic or intrigue to distract students. For younger pupils especially, a longing might encourage the need to complain to your mother about what that girl in your French class did this time.
  • Incredibly high standards of behaviour, and sanctimonious goodness from your fellow pupils. Everyone was expected to act like a “decent young lady” which must have been incredibly restrictive, and incredibly boring.

Source: Pixabay

2. Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe- Cambridge University

Satire so dry you’ll need a galleon of water to get through it, Tom Sharpe’s portrayal of Cambridge University doesn’t present the school in an especially favorable light. Money and status are the lifeblood of this old boy’s club, which has fallen on such hard times that it may have to consider admitting women. (The book itself is a bit crude, to say the least, so read at your own discretion).


  • Excellent food and drink- could be described as too delicious.
  • Failed the entrance exam? Not to worry- ask your butler to tell Mummy to make a nice little donation to the college, you’ll be shown right in.
  • Extracurricular activities- Porterhouse is known for it’s rowing prowess, if not for much else.
  • No peasants hanging around to lower the tone of the place.


  • Seriously, they want to let women in?
  • The faculty can be a bit erratic.

Source: Pixabay

3. Harry Potter by JK Rowling- Hogwarts

You knew this was going to pop up. Harry Potter and co.’s exploits in the famous castle had a generation of children dreaming of the day their own Hogwarts acceptance letter would arrive in the post. But is Hogwarts really all fun and games?


  • Luxurious accommodation (how many other boarding schools have four poster beds in castle towers?)
  • Interesting lessons. If it’s a choice between Geography and Care of Magical Creatures, point me towards the Flobberworms.
  • Exams prone to being cancelled
  • Climatic end of year battles against the forces of evil- because that would be awesome.


  • The staff. McGonnagal will always have your back, but with Snape running around and an endless parade of questionable Defence Against the Dark Arts professors, some teachers might benefit from an annual performance review.
  • The curriculum- is it really wise for powerful, full-grown wizards to be running around with an eleven year old’s understanding of maths and history?
  • Exams prone to being cancelled- seriously, what the hell do graduating students have to put on their magical resumes now?
  • Climatic end of year battles against the forces of evil- because that would be a massive violation of health and safety regulations.

Source: Flickr

How does your school measure up? Where would you like to be heading off to this September?

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Featured image via Haruhichan

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