While Hogwarts, the Scottish school in the books by J.K. Rowling that Harry Potter and his wizard and witch friends attend to be trained in the ways of magic, is of course fictional, many people wish it were real. In a 2008 poll, the school ranked #36, outranking Scotland’s oldest boarding school, Loretto. But what is it about Hogwarts that makes it so appealing to parents and adults? Here are some ideas:
Reason #1: Hogwarts Has No Admissions Tests
Hogwarts does not need to rely on admissions tests, as real private schools do. Instead, a quill at Hogwarts inscribes the names of wizards and witches at birth, and a teacher sends them a letter of invitation when the children turn 11, the age of admission to the school. Children can accept or decline the admission. Such an admissions process is far less stressful than the admissions process used at most private schools.
Reason #2: Hogwarts Provides Financial Aid for Robes and Other Supplies
Students who are offered a place at the school are also sent a list of necessary supplies, which include a wand, crystal phials, and a telescope, among other interesting supplies that are slightly more compelling than the usual binders and loose-leaf paper that most students are required to purchase. However, if students can not afford these magic supplies, financial aid is available. Therefore, the school can extend admission offers to witches and wizards without regard to their financial situation.
Reason #3: Students Can Bring Pets to School
Students at Hogwarts are allowed to bring animals to Hogwarts, including cats, rats, toads, and owls, of course. Studies have shown that pets in the classroom help children learn. Pets often reduce students’ anxiety and help them feel like part of a community caring for an animal. Research has shown that animals in schools reduce absences and bad behavior among students. Of course, the owls in the Harry Potter books are also quite useful, as they are mail carriers for the students and faculty.
Reason #4: Hogwarts’ Houses Create Community
When students arrive at Hogwarts, they are assigned to one of four houses—Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. These houses are similar to the house system at many boarding schools in which students live in dorms, get to know their dormmates well, and compete with other dorms in sports and other activities. As in Harry Potter, these activities engender a sense of community and belonging. At Hogwarts, the different houses compete against each other in games of Quidditch.
Reason #5: Hogwarts’ Classes Balance Practicality and Theory
The classes at Hogwarts are a nice balance between classes that provide practical training in wizardry, such as flying and herbology (how to use magical plants), and more abstract subjects, such as Defense Against the Dark Arts and Muggle Studies (which teaches wizards to deal with the non-wizard part of the population).
Reason #6: The Hogwarts Teachers
As in any school, the teachers at Hogwarts are the heart of the school. Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts, is a sage and wonderful figure who oversees Harry Potter’s development and is himself engaged in a battle against the forces of evil. Dumbledore, like many talented educators, is also a bit offbeat and funny, and he often makes jokes and does not take himself too seriously. While the process of education (not to mention fighting evil) is a serious one, Dumbledore seems to have fun while presiding over Hogwarts. The headmasters students love and remember long after they’ve graduated also tend to have this characteristic twinkle in their eyes.