Getting Started

This section covers the basics of choosing a boarding school. Learn more about educational consultants, explore the dos and don’ts of making the right choice, and learn why you should trust your instincts. When is the right time to attend boarding school? What is a post-graduate year? How can an educational consultant help? Here you’ll find the answers to these questions and more.
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Updated   July 26, 2017 |
Readers' Questions
Readers send dozens of questions via Facebook, Twitter and email. What do they ask? Readers want to know which is the best school in a particular country or region. A close second is figuring out how to pay for a private school education. Here are some readers' questions with my answers.

Over the years I have been asked hundreds of questions about boarding schools. What I find fascinating is that most of the questions are variations on the same question, namely,  "Which is the best school in...?" Readers understandably want to know which is the best school for their child. As they soon realize, there is no easy answer to their question. It is similar to finding an apartment or a house. You have to describe what it is that you are looking for. The second most common question I am asked is about scholarships. Paying for a boarding school education is a major concern for most parents. They need to know their options. So, against that backdrop, let's look at a couple of these inquiries together with my answers.

The question: "Hi there would u please suggest me best boarding school in Jakarta??"
My answer: "I am not familiar with private schools in Indonesia. I suggest that you ask the head teacher at a local school for guidance."

A quick Google search seemed to indicate that there are no western-style boarding schools in Indonesia.  In any case, I am not familiar with private schools in that part of the world. The other point I would have made if the reader had asked about schools in the U.S. or Canada, is that the best school is always the school which fits your requirements best. That does not necessarily mean that the school you choose is better than any other. It

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Updated   July 26, 2017
Education in the UK vs U.S.
A comprehensive overview of the difference between boarding schools in the US vs. UK.
Photo courtesy of EF Academy

The education systems in the U.S. and UK are ranked among the best in the world. With an emphasis on employing highly qualified teachers, providing students with opportunities for success inside and outside of the classroom and offering tailored support, the academic experiences offered at boarding schools in the U.S. and UK have their fair share of similarities, but they also have differences that ultimately distinguish the education on each side of the Atlantic Ocean.

1. Academics

In the UK, students often follow the A-Level academic program in their last two years of secondary school. This program culminates in internationally recognized qualifications, which means that it’s possible for A-Level students to apply to and attend university in the U.S. or other countries. But A-Levels are the standard pathway for entry to university in the UK. With the A-Level program, a student will focus on just three or four subjects that are related to what they would like to study at university, and then they apply to a specific field or program in line with their A-Level studies. In the U.S. students can follow the well-known IB or AP programs, but in addition to those qualifications, they can also receive a high school diploma.

To earn a high school diploma, a student in the U.S. will have to meet the academic requirements set by a state’s department of education. These requirements include all subjects – math, science, humanities, English, and arts, as well as additional electives. This means

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Updated   June 21, 2016 |
Why Are You Only Looking At Very Competitive Schools?
It makes sense to cast your net widely when looking at boarding schools. Here's why.
First of all let's define competitive. At its most basic level a competitive boarding school is one which admits less applicants than it receives applications from. For example, a school has a fixed admissions deadline of January 31 each year. Last year it received 250 applications for 100 places. That means that 150 applicants were not accepted by the school. Perhaps some of them were put on the waiting list but we will look at that later.
 
So, essentially a competitive boarding school receives more applicants than it has places which it can offer to those applicants. Within the scope of competitive schools are several subsets. There is nothing official here, of course, as no organization will officially state that such and such a school is a highly competitive school or a less competitive school and so on. Having said that, you do not have to know a lot about private schools to look at the data which our site Boarding School Review offers after doing a little sorting of acceptance rates. 
The other filter which we have to apply is for admissions to special schools. These schools which specialize in teaching students with learning disabilities, for example, have acceptance rates which are generally subject to other variables. In most cases we will classify these as non-competitive.
 
So, where are we going to set the bar? Anything below a 25% acceptance rate is very competitive. 26-50% is competitive. 51-75% is less competitive. Individual educational consultants will have their own scales
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Updated   September 28, 2017 |
How Can an Educational Consultant Help with a Boarding School Search?
Finding the right boarding school for your child is one of the most important and expensive decisions you will ever make.
 
Finding the right boarding school for your child is one of the most important and expensive decisions you will ever make.  You might try to research thoroughly on your own, only to find that most websites look alike, and very few give information on the profile of typical accepted students. Families who want guidance often turn to “independent educational consultants” or, IECs.
 
IECs are professionals who are paid by the family to advise them on the boarding school search and admissions process.  Many offer full-service comprehensive packages that span over a year’s time, and others have shorter packages or an hourly rate.  A typical consultation starts with a focus on the student’s background and interest in boarding school.  This includes a review of his transcript, testing, activities, interests, and academic successes and challenges of the past.  An IEC talks with the student and parents about goals for the future and what they hope to get out of the boarding school experience.  Consultants might give examples of schools that are nurturing or offer learning support, or those which give extra help to students when they need it, whether they ask for it or not!   IECs discuss the pros and cons of the more rigorous schools or might help a family decide whether to repeat a year.   Families might hear about how the schools are different from each other, and why a single-sex school might be beneficial, or why a rural, primarily boarding community, will feel different than a suburban school
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Updated   July 26, 2017 |
The Western Boarding Schools’ Difference
There are almost 40 boarding schools west of the Mississippi River.
There are almost 40 boarding schools west of the Mississippi River. If you were to drive west from this great river, the landscape and climate slowly change and, likewise, a perhaps previously unexplored region of boarding schools will begin to unfold before you. Like the Louis and Clark expedition many years ago, this voyage of discovery will be an astonishingly educational experience.
 

Start anywhere west of the Mississippi, from Manitoba down to Texas; head west across the Great Plains and even past California and British Columbia all the way to Hawaii.  On this voyage, you will find the many boarding schools represented by the Western Boarding Schools Association.  These boarding schools can rival anything found in the East and, quite often, we offer more! For example, did you know that Hawaii Prep has 80% of the world’s ecosystems and a LEED Platinum Energy Lab? Or that one can safely predict that many of the ice hockey medalists at the Sochi Olympic Games will have attended high school at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Minnesota? Or that you can simultaneously watch condors fly overhead while on your way to surfing each day at Cate School in Carpentaria, California? Or that at my school, Brentwood College School, we can integrate marine biology and oceanography into our curriculum because we are situated directly on the Pacific Ocean?

Academically, our western boarding schools stack up with the best of them.  Unfortunately, there still permeates a mindboggling misconception
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Choosing a School

Getting Started