Boarding school isn’t quite what pop culture portrays it to be.
You’ll find that the majority of parents who truly prioritize the quality of their children’s education have (at least) considered admitting their kids to a boarding school.
Yet, if you’re new to this whole model of education, it’s critical to start with a solid understanding of what are boarding schools, their benefits, and their drawbacks. Followed by nailing down the specific factors that you want your perfect boarding school to have. There will be some elements that are quite obvious, like stellar academic performance and others that are criminally underappreciated, as the distance to family.
If you’re unsure what factors you need to keep in mind in your research for the perfect fit, don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place. Keep on reading for our full breakdown of everything you need to know about boarding schools, and how to pick the right one for your family.
What Are Boarding Schools?
Before we start our deep dive into the intricacies of what makes some boarding schools better than others, let’s make sure that you’re fully aware of what a boarding school entails.
In the simplest of terms, educators and others in academics use the term “boarding school” to refer to a residential private school.
Those are academic institutions where students live full-time on campus, in residential houses or dormitories, under the supervision of “dorm parents.” Consider it as a full-time school that includes room and board.
Why Choose a Boarding School?
Many elements make boarding schools unique. Especially once they’re compared to day schools or public schools.
For instance, boarding schools are known for their high degrees of structure. Everything has its time and place. With study times, meals, classes, and free time all scheduled in and followed to the letter.
In addition, there’s the resident life that’s a big part of the boarding school experience. By exposing your children to the outside world early on, they get to gain a higher degree of independence and confidence in their abilities.
In the U.S., you’ll find that boarding schools usually serve students between the grades of nine through 12. Yet, other schools accept students through their younger years, covering the middle school period. Those are known as junior boarding schools.
You’ll want to explore the best option for boarding school before you even start your research in earnest.
Now, it’s time to take a look at the essential factors that will help you sort out the wheat from the chaff.
The Academics and Subject Choices
If we take away all the bells and whistles in the marketing materials, we’ll find the essential factor. Which are the curricula and the quality of academia.
Different people swear by different schools of education. Like the Montessori schools, or taking the German Abitur. Depending on your preferences, you’ll want to ensure that your child’s interests are available.
For instance, if you have an artistically-inclined child, you’ll want to confirm that there are a plethora of courses and activities that will help them develop their talents.
Moreover, if you’re more interested in having your kid excel in a specific discipline, like the STEM fields, or International Relations, or even becoming a polyglot, all of those are specialized academic offerings.
You’ll want to match up your child’s goals and interests with the boarding school.
The Financials: Boarding School Cost
Boarding schools are not cheap. However, that doesn’t mean that they have to completely break your budget and ruin your finances.
Admittedly, there are rather expensive boarding schools, like the Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland, which can cost upwards of $124,000 per year. Yet, those ranges aren’t close to the average rates for boarding schools in the U.S.
In general, you’ll be looking at an average sticker price of $56,000. But, that’s only the sticker price. Many renowned boarding schools have scholarships and other financial aids available to students of all different backgrounds and financial abilities.
The Distance to Home
This factor tends to have more importance for junior boarding schools. While you want to get all of the benefits that boarding schools can provide to your child, you’ll want to minimize some of the drawbacks.
For example, in cases of emergency, having family near the boarding school can make a huge difference for your child’s psyche. Just knowing that their parents or guardians are a call away can give them a sense of security that not even the best boarding school in the world can provide.
The Extracurricular Offerings
It’s not only about academics. After all, your child will be spending all of their time at school, and you wouldn’t want them to be a one-trick pony. While academics are important, you’ll want to give them some space to develop different talents in a variety of different programs.
An example would be picking a boarding school with a strong athletics program, especially if your child is already showing affinity to a specific sport.
You’ll want to visit the campus and ask the faculty and alumni questions about the school’s offerings.
University Admissions and Statistics
Most parents will spend a lot of time, money, and effort in picking the right boarding school for their kids. All with the hopes of bettering their chances for admission to a highly-ranked university.
You’ll want to see some concrete statistics and admission rates to highly-ranked universities. This isn’t a strange ask. You’ll find that boarding schools that have good reputations will have those numbers on hand.
Picking the Right Boarding School
We know how overwhelming it can be to make the right choices when it comes to our children’s education, especially in the U.S.
With boarding schools filling up, there’s even more pressure to pick the right school as early as possible. Hopefully, our explainer has shed some light on what are boarding schools, and the key factors that can help you pick the right fit.
When in doubt, always ask for a campus visit. This way you can get a physical sense of the place, before committing to sending your children.
And, if you liked our article, make sure to check out additional tips and strategies, all available to you in our education section.