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.
View the most popular articles in Getting Started:
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 January 10, 2014 |
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
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Updated April 10, 2015 |
5 Challenges Parents Face
How to handle five basic challenges involved in choosing a boarding school.
As your child enters middle school, you will probably begin to think more seriously about her high school and college plans. With that in mind let's take a look at some of the challenges we parents face. I admit that the whole subject is daunting, confusing and even intimidating. However, if you approach the project just like you do any other major project/decision, you will be able to stay out front. Playing catch up is never fun, so let's start our planning early so we understand what is involved.
 
Getting your child to buy into the idea
 
The first challenge is a basic one: you must get your child to buy into the idea of going away to school. Yes, you are her parent and you can make that decision yourself. Unfortunately making this kind of decision unilaterally will do more harm than good. The trick is to get her to think that going away to school is her idea.
 
How do you accomplish that?  By starting early. Begin the process of shaping her decision at least 3 to 4 years beforehand. If a member of your family currently attends boarding school, schedule a visit to see that relative while he is in school. The more comfortable your child feels with the idea of going off to boarding school, the happier she will be.
 
As she progresses through grades 7 and 8, begin to discuss the academic game plan for high school and beyond. Sometimes special considerations will make
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Updated May 29, 2017 |
12 Boarding Schools Costing Less Than $20,000
Here then are a dozen boarding schools which charge approximately $20,000 per year or less for tuition, room and board.
 It sounds too good to be true, right? But it really is true. I found twelve boarding schools when I searched Boarding School Review using the simple search string  "least expensive schools" Our powerful search engine sorted the 315 boarding schools listed on our site by tuition. I then filtered out three schools, two were located in Canada and the other was a summer boarding school. 
 

Here then are a dozen boarding schools which charge approximately $20,000 per year or less for tuition, room and board. What impressed me was to discover one school on the list offered 30 Advanced Placement courses and another offered the prestigious International Baccalaureate program. Explore these schools and determine whether perhaps one or more suit your requirements.

Lustre Christian High School, Lustre, MT

School Type: Co-Ed
Grades offered: 9-12
Number of students: 40
Tuition: $9,000
International students: Yes
Academics: Bible, Math, Science, English, History, Computers, Physical Education, Journalism, Drama
AP courses: None.
In the school's words:  "It is a unique educational institution because it serves as both a Christian high school for the community and as a qualified Christian boarding school."
 

Mercyhurst Preparatory School, Erie, PA

School Type: Co-Ed
Grades offered: 9-12
Number of students: 620
Tuition: $7,600
International students: Yes
Academics:  15 IB courses. International Baccalaureate program.
In the school's words: "We strive for excellence in academic and co-curricular programs, we promote service to our local and global communities, and we foster the dedication and active support of the students, parents, faculty,staff, and alumni of the Mercyhurst community."

 

School Type: Co-Ed
Grades offered: 11-12
Number of students: 100
Tuition: $9,000
International
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Updated August 06, 2016 |
 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 chose 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.

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Choosing a School

Getting Started