Looking at Schools

Looking at Schools
Do you like large schools or small schools? Are you most comfortable in a city, small town or countryside? Are you interested in attending a school that has a religious or military orientation? Would you like to attend a school that is only for boys or girls? These are some questions you must ask yourself before you begin your search for the right U.S. boarding school for you.

This article was written by the staff of Boarding Schools in the USA.

Do you like large schools or small schools? Are you most comfortable in a city, small town, or countryside? Are you interested in attending a school that has a religious or military orientation? Would you like to attend a school that is only for boys or girls? These are some questions you must ask yourself before you begin your search for the right U.S. boarding school for you.

Single-Sex Schools

Single-sex schools, those for boys only or girls only, are some of the oldest boarding schools in the U.S.A. As a student at one of these schools, you will have the chance to study in a less socially distracting atmosphere. For girls, single-sex schools can often provide a greater opportunity to pursue leadership roles in both academic and extracurricular life.

Military Schools

Military secondary schools have the same advantages as other private schools but also instill the values and importance of teamwork, dedication, and discipline. Uniforms and drilling are often required.

Florida Air Academy, located near the Kennedy Space Center, uses modern airplanes and simulators as part of their flying programs, which begin as early as the seventh grade. Upon completion of flight training, students may obtain a private pilot's license and are eligible for entry into professional training programs. Not surprisingly, many Florida Air graduates pursue careers in military and commercial aviation.

St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin is a private, all-male college preparatory and leadership development school. For over a decade, 100% of the school's graduates have been accepted to a college or university.

At Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, California, a military school with a California oceanfront property, cadets enjoy beautiful weather and ocean activities such as surfing, bodyboarding, SCUBA diving, sailing year-round as well as 13 varsity sports, 32 clubs, and fine and performing arts.

Admiral Farragut Academy in Florida offers dual enrollment for university credit through St. Petersburg College and the state university system. Students have graduated from this program with one or even two years of university credit. Admiral Farragut is located on the waterfront and has about 15 boats including prams, 420s, sunfish, and lasers. Students must be able to sail. The school also has a marine biology program.

ESL “Bridge” Programs

“Bridge” programs, running from April until June, provide students with intensive English training as preparation for the academic year beginning in September. These classes concentrate on reading, writing, and speaking as well as U.S. culture and social expectations. It's beneficial to attend one of these programs the April or summer before you plan to enter a boarding school.

Postgraduate Programs

Many schools offer a postgraduate program, a one-year course of study for students who have finished their high school program but are not ready to enter a university. The postgraduate curriculum usually concentrates on reading, writing, and mathematical skills. Foreign students can especially benefit from this program since the course of study is flexible and you can structure it around your specific academic needs.

Summer Schools & Camps

Students attend summer schools for academic credit and as a supplement to their regular academic program. Summer camps, on the other hand, specialize in outdoor recreational activities, sports, art, music, and drama.

There are many summer schools and camps that offer ESL training as well as the opportunity to interact with English-speaking young people. Typically beginning at the end of June, these programs last anywhere from six to ten weeks and will provide you with a wonderful opportunity to spend your summer months learning English, making friends, and experiencing U.S. culture.

Academy By The Sea has an oceanfront campus in Southern California, where students have the opportunity to surf, sail, and enjoy other water activities. The school offers a five-week program that is a balance of academics and recreation. The students take supervised, weekend excursions to nearby California area attractions, such as Knott's Berry Farm, Disneyland, and SeaWorld.

Religious Schools

Some schools have a strong tradition founded in religion and will frequently integrate religious services and classes into their regular curriculum. Most institutions, however, welcome children from all religious backgrounds and respect their differing philosophies.

Travel Programs

Washington Academy in Maine makes use of the local environment for field trips and longer excursions. Students take a week-long ski vacation to a condo at nearby Sugarloaf resort. The school also sponsors whale-watching and sailing trips on the coast of Maine and hiking, cycling and kayaking in Acadia National Park. There are also trips to Boston and New York City.

These trips are chaperoned by faculty members and are combined with educational and recreational experiences.

Schools with Homestays

Several schools offer a homestay option as an alternative to living in a dormitory. By living with a U.S. family you gain the comfort of a home-life and may have greater opportunity to participate in activities outside of school and within the community.

For example, students who are comfortable with their English may participate in the Public School Program at Educational Consortium Institute (ECI) in California. They enroll for a semester or a year at a local public high school and live with a host family.

Residential Experience

At Darlington School in Georgia, life is centered on an English “house” system unique among U.S. boarding schools. Most teachers live on campus in residential Houses with their students. They form relationships with one another that last a lifetime. All teachers and boarding and day students in the Upper School are members of one of the six Houses.

The heads of each House also serve as the School's admission officers. Students join Darlington by being admitted to one of the Houses. Student prefects manage the life in the Houses and also sit with the heads of house on the House-Senate where they help to shape the rules by which everyone at the school lives.

Service Learning and Life Experience

At several boarding schools, students perform community service as part of all aspects of school life.

At The White Mountain School in New Hampshire, students volunteer at varied nonprofit agencies, retirement centers, grade schools and recycling centers. Students run clothing and toiletry drives for several homeless shelters in the state, traveling to them to deliver items and volunteer. One of the greatest successes so far has been the revival of a local soup kitchen.

For one or two days each May the school moves off campus to maintain trails, stock streams, paint walls of buildings in the community, rake campsites, and clean litter.

Community Service Odysseys are intense, week-long experiences. Students spend a week working for Habitat for Humanity in Mississippi, assisting with an art exchange program in Haiti, or building chicken coops and fixing up buildings through rural community development in Central America.

Outdoor service-learning at Blue Ridge School in Virginia involves an outdoor service project such as a campus construction project or building a nature awareness trail on the nearby mountain. Students discuss leadership issues and relate them to examples involving such topics as genetic engineering. They also learn about the history of service (volunteerism), service organizations, and the benefits of service, as well as local outdoor service organizations such as the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Special Needs / Learning Disabilities

Students who have difficulty reading or paying attention in class due to learning disabilities (dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, etc.) can find many U.S. boarding schools devoted to helping them learn how to study and prepare for university study and career achievement.

Students with ability who have not yet reached their potential may benefit from programs like the one offered at Saint Thomas More School in Connecticut, which provides a structured environment designed to develop good study habits.

Small classes are a key aspect of the school's program. With a typical class size of twelve students, every boy gets the attention he needs. Instructors teach not only subjects such as biology or math, but also study skills such as listening and note-taking, effective time management, concentration and memory techniques, and test-taking.

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