Choosing a School

You’ve decided boarding school may be the best option for your child’s education. Now it’s time to find a school that meets the needs of your family. Determine when your child is ready to attend boarding school, learn why students can benefit from a single-sex education, and get tips on finding data and comparing schools. Discover the benefits of education consultants, explore Quaker schools, and find get expert advice on making an informed decision.

View the most popular articles in Choosing a School:

Admissions Perspective: Choosing a Boarding School

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Admissions Perspective: Choosing a Boarding School
Get admissions officer's Clayton Johnston's perspective on how to choose the best boarding school for you.
Recently I landed in Jakarta on a recruiting trip. Immediately upon exiting the terminal, as happens in many countries, a small crowd of entrepreneurial ‘taxi drivers’ surrounded me, all trying to grab my suitcase and waving their ‘Official Airport Taxi ID’ badge in my face.  Had I not been a seasoned traveler, it would have been very difficult for me to determine which of them, if any, to believe?  They all looked authentic and sounded sincere.  
 
Like inexperienced travelers, most prospective families know very little about boarding schools when they first start looking.  They need support in determining which school is right for them.  They must rely on word of mouth, the research they can do themselves, and their own intuition.  But this is easier said than done; if you visit enough schools (which you should), they all can begin to appear quite similar.  So it can be a daunting task to determine which school is ‘right’ for your family.
 
If you read the mission statements, vision statements, school philosophies, tag lines, and Head’s Messages of all the boarding schools on their websites, they all pretty much say the same thing.  They offer a well-rounded education, character development, top-level academics, small classroom sizes, modern facilities, great mentoring and a safe learning environment.  
 
So what makes them different from one another?
 
This is where doing your homework is important.  Each boarding school tends to have at least one differentiator; something that makes them stand out from the crowd.  For instance, at my
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How Do Girls Benefit From Single-Sex Education?

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How Do Girls Benefit From Single-Sex Education?
Role models, knowing how girls learn and constant encouragement are just some of the ways girls' schools work their magic with your daughter.
 
As I read research and data in preparation for writing this article, I was struck by how much real progress has been made in girls' education versus boys' education over the last decade. I hope that you will read the resources listed at the end. They are just the tip of the iceberg but they will get you started in your exploration and evaluation of girls' schools. Since the subject of single-sex education seems to be gaining traction in the public school arena, I suspect that we shall continue to see some serious academic papers being written on the subject in the coming years. This short clip offers a glimpse inside an AP Biology class.
 
Personally, having raised two daughters, I can speak with some experience on the subject of single-sex education. Both girls went to coeducational boarding schools. But the benefit of hindsight tells me that going to an all girls school would have been a better solution for both of them. Here then are the reasons why I am such a huge fan of girls' schools.
 
Girls' schools provide relevant 21st century role models.
 
It is a fact that there are more visible, relevant role models for girls these days. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and Harvard President Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust, to name just three highly successful prominent executives, provide our daughters with the very best kind of role models. That's important. You can read about these leaders. You can hear
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Why We Chose Boarding Rather than Day School

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 Why We Chose Boarding Rather than Day School
Four reasons shaped our decision. I share these and other insights with you.
Deciding whether to send your child to boarding school instead of day school is a decision most of us parents make early on in the private school search process. Here is our story. I had taught in day schools and was a Deputy-Director of one of them. Nancy and I choose to send both daughters to boarding schools for the following reasons. I hope that our experience will help to inform you as you make this critical decision about which kind of private school will be best for your child.
 
At the time we were considering sending our children to private school we were fortunate to be living in an area which had good schools. My late wife Nancy indeed had graduated from the local high school. In fact, she was chair of the local school board when we decided to explore other options for our daughters' schooling. So it wasn't the schools per se which were the issue. Four factors shaped our decision.
 
The high school curriculum was solid. The teachers were experienced and competent. The school was small as high schools go, with a student population of 400 students in grades 7 through 12. There were football and basketball teams, a highly-acclaimed marching band and a couple of clubs.  That, however, was what made us want more for our daughters. We wanted them to read five Shakespeare plays a year. Not just the one play a year which she learned in her current high school. The same thing was
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Trust Your Instincts

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Trust Your Instincts
Choosing a boarding school involves sifting through and reviewing lots of information. Never lose sight of the fact that you know best. Trust your instincts.
Part of the fun of parenting is that there is no owners' manual issued when your child is born. You and I buy cars, televisions, and computers with reams of documentation. But nothing came with your daughter or mine. You had to rely on your instincts, judgment and common sense in order to raise her to become the young adult who now is poised to head off on a great adventure, namely, going off to boarding school.
 
Your daughter is unique. So are boarding schools. While no two schools are alike, they all share a common aim: to educate your daughter academically, spiritually and athletically. They strive to build on the solid foundation which you have so lovingly laid over these past fourteen or fifteen years. Now it is time to let her go and advance and grow in this next important stage of her maturation.
 
Still, all of us parents approach the process of finding the right school with more than a little trepidation. Questions keep popping up. Some questions even nag a bit. 
 
"How do I know which boarding school is the best one for her?" 
"How can I compare schools which all seem so wonderful yet are so different?" 
"How do I know that she will be prepared properly for college work?" 
"Will the school see the potential which I see in my daughter or will she be just another child occupying a place?"
 
Take a deep breath. Trust your instincts. You possess finely-honed parental instincts. After all, these
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Choosing a School: Which school offers.....?

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Choosing a School: Which school offers.....?
Determining which programs are 'must haves' is an important part of choosing the right boarding school for your child.

As you begin to refine your boarding school search, you will find yourself circling back to identify the schools that offer the programs your child wants and needs. Don't forget to discuss your wants and needs with your child. She needs to buy into the idea of going off to boarding school. That way, you will end up with a child who is enthusiastic about going to private school and feels involved in the decision-making process. It will be her idea. Choose your time wisely for these essential conversations. Be an active listener. Avoid jumping in as she expresses her thoughts. Choose a relaxed, informal setting for this important conversation. Chatting with your daughter while out shopping or driving around town will be a much less confrontational experience for her than having a formal discussion.

 

Unlike the limited options you will find in most public schools these days, private schools offer a rich array of programs. Let's look at a few.

 

Foreign languages

 

Mandarin, Spanish, French and Italian are

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Recent Articles

Want To Teach In A Boarding School?
Want To Teach In A Boarding School?
Teaching in a boarding school is the same as teaching in a public school, right? Not exactly. Some explanations here.
Academics: Advanced Placement
Academics: Advanced Placement
As part of your evaluation of boarding schools, you will examine the academics. We look at one aspect of what many schools teach, namely, Advanced Placement courses.
Are You Looking At The Wrong Schools?
Are You Looking At The Wrong Schools?
By "wrong schools", I mean schools that don't fit your needs and requirements. Finding the "right school' implies that the school meets 99% of what you require. More here.

Featured Schools

Featured Schools

Choosing a School

EVALUATING SCHOOLS
Here we’ll provide you with information on evaluating boarding schools. From comparing schools to identifying language and sports programs, our articles will help you make an informed decision. Learn the best approach to compare schools, get tips on creating a spreadsheet, and determine where to find the data.
Is Boarding School Right for Your Child?
Is Boarding School Right for Your Child?
Take The IB Quiz
Take The IB Quiz
Academics: Advanced Placement
Academics: Advanced Placement