What truly differentiates many boarding schools is the strength (or weakness) of their boarding program. This is where you need to ask as many questions as possible to each of the schools you are visiting. Typical questions might be: what percentage of your school are boarders compared to day students? Do you consider yourself to be a day school with some boarding, or truly a ‘boarding school’? What are the demographics of your boarding student population (is it mostly international or North American)? Are the dorms run by teachers or by non-faculty members? Will the school share contact information of willing current and past parents with you so that you can do more investigation? Is there an established Residential Life Program? If so, will the school share it with you? Can prospective students spend 24-hours on the campus (a sleep-over might tell you a great deal about the culture)? The answers to these questions and many more will help you determine the right boarding school for your family. It involves direct questions, honest answers, and digging deep.
Clayton Johnston is the Director of Admissions at Brentwood College School in British Columbia, Canada. He blogs regularly at Brentwood Admissions Blog about his school and about life in the Admissions Office at Brentwood College School. You can follow him @bcsadmissions, or visit www.brentwood.bc.ca to learn more.