Boarding School FAQs

Boarding School FAQs
Read frequently asked questions on a range of boarding school related topics.

By Barbara Kennedy - Director of External Affairs, Baylor School/

Question 1

Boarding school seems expensive. My parents' combined income is less than $90,000 a year. I am the oldest of three children. I have had a GPA of 3.9 through middle school and 9th grade. I play intramural soccer, had the lead in the spring musical last year, and want to be a physicist. Should I even consider going to a boarding school?

Paying for a boarding school education does require some planning, but it can be manageable, and the investment is invaluable. When considering the cost of boarding school, it is essential to know that need-based financial aid based on a family's income and assets is available at most schools. For example, last year, Baylor School awarded more than $2 million in financial aid. Other schools, including Baylor, offer other merit scholarships as well. Most schools offer monthly payment plans (administered by the school or an outside agency), allowing families to spread their tuition payments over eight to ten months.

This brief video explains how one private school's financial aid program works.

One helpful resource is the School and Student Service for Financial Aid, a service of the National Association of Independent Schools, which objectively assesses a family's ability to contribute to their child's educational costs. You can access the forms needed to apply for financial aid from their website. For the most reliable information, though, you should work closely with the admission office and office of financial assistance of the school you are considering.

Question 2

Will my daughter have free time at boarding school, or is every minute of her day regimented and organized? That's one of her main concerns.

The learning process at boarding schools extends beyond the classroom and into sports fields, theater stages, and the local community, to name a few of the experiences students can take advantage of. Here is a look at a day at a typical boarding school.

However, each student can decide for themselves which, if any, opportunities are right for them. Some may decide they vanish more independently than participating in an organized activity or school sport.

Although not every minute of a student's day is controlled, many boarding schools do require students to participate in a sport or other school-sponsored activities, and chances are, no matter what interests your daughter, there will be something for her to enjoy.

Most students enter boarding school apprehensively because they are surrounded by a new environment and do not know any of the other students. The best way to acclimate new boarding students is to encourage them to engage in some activity outside of the classroom so they can get to know their peers beyond the academic environment.

Being involved with school-sponsored activities or joining a sports team can help make the transition into boarding school smooth. This also leads to better relationships with other boarding students, so their free time, outside of the classroom and away from sports and activities, can be enjoyed with newly formed friendships.

Boarding schools not only provide excellent academic opportunities but also equip students with life-changing experiences and relationships that extend beyond their time at boarding school. Remember that boarding students have countless opportunities to get to know their peers through school-sponsored activities. Still, students have ample free time to grow as individuals so that they are prepared to succeed beyond boarding school.

Question 3

I have heard that sports are compulsory at boarding schools. My son isn't good at contact sports but is a competent tennis player. What kind of sports opportunities await him at boarding school?

Not all boarding schools require their students to play a sport, but there are undoubtedly excellent opportunities for students interested in a sport such as tennis. And suppose you are a student, or parent, thinking about college. In that case, athletic scholarships can be obtained because many boarding schools can provide top-of-the-line facilities, coaches, and resources. As the following video illustrates, there is something for every child's needs.

Other than tennis, there are a plethora of athletic opportunities at boarding schools that can include:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Crew
  • Track and Field
  • Soccer
  • Cross Country
  • Volleyball
  • Swimming and Diving
  • Fencing
  • Equestrian
  • Baseball
  • Lacrosse
  • Wrestling
  • Cheerleading
  • Field Hockey
  • Ice Hockey

As you can see, there is a little something for anyone interested in contact or non-contact sports. Furthermore, each sport has different levels of competition, so your son or daughter can compete against peers with similar athletic abilities.

Look into the boarding school's athletic history before you decide on a school for your son. Get to know the coaches and discover potential opportunities for your son to participate on a sports team such as tennis. It may also be a good idea to see what kind of experience the school has in sending its boarding school graduates to college on athletic scholarships.

This video offers an overview of sports programs at boarding schools.

Question 4

What should my son and I look for when I visit a boarding school?

There are a number of factors to consider when sending your son away for an education, and none of the decisions will come easily. But it is important that you are thorough and decisive in your search. Location, facilities, cost, extracurricular activities, and student body size are important points. Perhaps the most important feature should be the quality of education itself.

Boarding schools often offer the kind of collegiate acceptance rate that public and day schools can only dream of. Small class sizes, diverse curriculums, and individual attention from teachers and advisers in the boarding environment can create a progressive, thorough setting where students thrive. However, all boarding schools offer the same level of education, and you should investigate the types of classes offered, the number of Advanced Placement (AP) classes, the student-to-teacher ratio, and the school's collegiate placement record.

Remember, however, that it's not just about the classroom.

This video offers an overview of AP courses.

To create the best atmosphere for your son, you should choose the boarding school that best combines classroom education with real-world education. In other words, investigate each school's extracurricular activities just as thoroughly as you would the traditional curriculum.

Does your son like to play sports? Make sure there are a variety of athletic options that offer competitive outlets. Are there clubs, social groups, and getaway opportunities? And what about the atmosphere within the dorms themselves? What does the campus look like? Are the students housed in an atmosphere that they will enjoy? Do you want your son in an all-male environment, or would a co-ed boarding school be more beneficial?

Has your son ever lived away from home for an extended period? The move could shock his system, so looking for a nurturing environment is vital. Some boarding schools even offer to match students with families living in the area to act as support and a sort of home away from home.

Finally, tuition and boarding fees are always a factor, and boarding schools can strain some budgets. However, the benefits often far outweigh the costs, and many schools offer scholarships and opportunities to help trim the costs involved. Many factors must be thoroughly considered, and each school has its strong points, so please be diligent in your research to ensure your son finds the right fit for him.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @boardingschoolreview


comments powered by Disqus

Recent Articles

Considering a U.S. Arts Program?
Considering a U.S. Arts Program?
If the arts are part of your interests and your passion, you should research each school’s available offerings. Spend time reading the school’s literature and visiting its website.
Types of Boarding School
Types of Boarding School
Embark on a journey through the diverse world of boarding schools with our comprehensive guide. From traditional institutions to specialized programs, we explore the various types of boarding schools available to students and parents.
International Students: Visas and More
International Students: Visas and More
In addition to the usual admissions requirements, international students must also obtain a student visa. Here are five tips to help you navigate the admissions process as an international student.

Featured Schools

Featured Schools

Why Boarding School