A To Z Of Boarding Schools

A To Z Of Boarding Schools
Make choosing the right boarding school for your child easier with this A To Z list.

A - Applying to boarding school

Applying to most boarding schools has become easier in the last 10-15 years. That's because you can apply online at most schools. When schools don't have online applications, they usually have all the application forms and information you need online for you to download.

B - Be aware that diversity is part of boarding schools' DNA in the 21st century.

Yes, back in the 1950s and 1960s, you might have been able to say that boarding schools were elitist. At least, that was the general public's perception. Of course, the media reinforced this perception. However, in the 21st century, boarding schools have made diversity and tolerance the center of their mission and philosophy as most schools seek to prepare their students for life and work in a global community.

C - Competitive schools

Many parents have grand ideas about which boarding schools they want their children to attend. As a result, they focus on the top 10 schools, which receive ten times as many applicants for whom they have places. Having one very competitive school on your shortlist is wise only when you also have two relatively safe schools on that list. Just as with investing, t makes no sense to put all your eggs in one basket.

This brief video showcases Phillips Andover Academy.

D - Discipline is part of the deal.

Most boarding schools have discipline codes or codes of conduct. Schools hold orientation sessions at the beginning of the school year to explain their discipline codes. Each school has its distinctive way of administering its discipline code. However, these discipline codes share a common idea, namely, that there are consequences for breaking the rules.

E - Extracurricular activities

Academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities form the core of most boarding school programs. Boarding schools believe you cannot have one without the other two. The balance of academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities makes for a rich experience. Your child will learn to get along with others and contribute her best to the team effort. You will only hear of boarding schools cutting back on their extracurricular activity offerings.

This brief video gives an overview of Chatham Hall School.

F - Finding the right school

Finding the right school for your child will always be challenging for most parents. That's because there are so many choices. First, look at as many schools online as you want to. Cast your net as wide as you wish. Then, reduce your list to 3-5 schools with the most items on your list of 'must-haves.

G - Graduate degrees

Most boarding school teachers have bachelor's degrees or the equivalent in their subject specialties. For example, the Latin teacher will have a degree in Classics. The next step is a master's degree and possibly even a doctorate.

H - Horses

Approximately 62 boarding schools offer equestrian programs. So if your child is a serious rider, be sure to explore the possibilities boarding schools provide.

I - International Baccalaureate

Several boarding schools offer the International Baccalaureate Program. In addition, the IB diploma is recognized worldwide by colleges and universities.

J - Jewish schools come in several forms.

Jewish schools offer a fine grounding in both the Hebrew language and the Torah, among many other things. So whether you choose to reform or orthodox Judaism, you are bound to find the right school.

K - Knowing the right people

When it comes to most boarding school admissions, it is not who you know that matters. It is a matter of your child meeting the school's requirements. On the other hand, if you have a child or a relative attending the school, another box will be checked in your child's file. Qualifications do matter.

L - Contract law governs your legal rights.

Boarding schools differ from public schools in this respect. Public school students have constitutional rights. Students' rights are determined by the contract you and the school signed. Read the fine print carefully.

M - Mens sana in corpore

This line from the 1st-century Roman poet Juvenal roughly translates as "a healthy mind in a healthy body ." This phrase explains why most boarding schools have compulsory athletic programs. The idea is simple: you cannot have a healthy mind without physical exercise.

This video from Culver Academies illustrates how and why athletics programs are integral to the school's curriculum.

N - Not all boarding schools are not-for-profit organizations.

Most boarding schools are not-for-profit organizations. Most are also 501 (c) (3) entities, i.e., tax-exempt. However, about 100 private high schools are for-profit corporations. Whether a school is for-profit or not for profit makes no difference. What matters is whether it offers what you and your child require.

O - Only qualified students are admitted to boarding schools.

What qualifications a particular boarding school is looking for is something you need to discuss with your educational consultant. Each school sets its own unique set of qualifications. If your child has what the school is looking for, she will go to the front of the line, all things being equal. Schools have no obligation to admit any child who does not meet their requirements.

P - Parent's Financial Statement

If you require financial aid to send your child to boarding school, complete The Parents' Financial Statement or PFS for short. The PFS instructions and application can be found on the School and Student Services website. This confidential information is reviewed by a third party, not by the schools. The third party's report to the schools indicates your financial capability of contributing towards tuition and fees.

Q - Quality of teaching

Quality of teaching is near the top of the list of reasons for sending your children to boarding school. We want our children taught by experienced professional teachers who know their subjects inside and out. In addition, we want teachers who are passionate about their subject and know how to teach it to young people.

R - Religion

Many of us parents decided to send our children to boarding schools because we want them to be in an educational environment that respects and enhances their religious beliefs. In addition, almost every major denomination has schools affiliated with it.

S - Special needs

You will find a boarding school for just about any special need diagnosis. As you review and visit schools, ask questions and confirm that the specific program that the school offers meets your child's requirements. Special needs education programs vary widely. Exceptional children also tend to do well in a private school setting. Be sure to choose the right school that offers the academic programs and activities your child needs.


Students whose native language is not English will have to take TOEFL or the Test of English as a Foreign Language as part of their admissions testing. The ETS or Educational Testing Service created and administered this standardized test.

U - Unless you are an expert on private schools, hire a consultant.

Sending your child to a private school is a significant investment of money and time. So you need to get it right. Like you wouldn't dream of buying a home without consulting your attorney or financial adviser, it is with choosing a private school. Hire a professional educational consultant.

V - Visit schools on your shortlist.

There is no more important advice that I can give than this: you must visit each school on your shortlist. Your child's happiness is at stake. While visiting schools takes time and effort, you will find the exercise worthwhile. In the process, you will uncover positive aspects of the schools and some unexpected negatives. Refrain from believing everything you see and read online. See for yourself.

W - Waiting until the last minute is not a good idea.

Plan your work and work your plan is good advice for getting your child into private school. Many schools have admissions deadlines. There are also testing deadlines and other dates to keep your eye on. So don't wait until the last minute.

X - Extras

There are some hidden, unexpected costs to sending your child to a boarding school. Uniforms, music lessons, and much more become routine after a while. Be ready for those unexpected sundries.

Y - You know your child better than anybody.

Never forget that. The choices available to you and your family will sometimes be overwhelming. You will have many decisions to make. Ultimately, choosing the right school is all about finding the school that best fits your child, her needs, and her personality. Nobody knows her better than you do. Let that drive your decisions.

Z - Are there Zambonis at private schools?

Yes, indeed. Most northern boarding schools with hockey programs will have a Zamboni or other ice resurfacer as part of their rink equipment.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @boardingschoolreview

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