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   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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Updated   May 26, 2017 |
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, judgement 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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Updated   December 02, 2017 |
Choosing a School: DO's and DON'TS
Here are some considerations to ponder whilst choosing schools and when your child is actually away at school.
DO: Visit schools.
 
Visiting schools takes a lot of time and effort. It is, however, one of the most important parts of the school selection process.  Use the search tools on this site to develop a preliminary list of schools which interest you and your child. If you are located overseas,  be sure to research flights to major ports of entry such as Seattle and Los Angeles on the west coast and Boston, New York, Atlanta and Miami on the east coast and Denver and Chicago in the western and mid-western parts of the country. If you ever have to make an emergency trip to your child's school, you will understand why this step is so important.
 
Once you have developed your preliminary list, refine it to a short list of 3-5 schools. Then visit these schools to determine if they are indeed a good fit for your child's needs and your requirements.
 
 

Many schools have open houses. These offer you a wonderful opportunity to visit the school, see classrooms, listen to the school's 'story' and meet admissions staff. How do you figure out which schools have open houses in your area? You can look on the school's website. And, you can do a search on this site. Here's how:

Go to find private schools. Choose your state and click on the link for open houses in that state. The number of open houses will vary according to the time of year and the

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Updated   July 26, 2017 |
When Should I Go Off to Boarding School?
When should you go off to boarding school? It depends. Most students enter prep school in 10th grade. But you have choices.
Does it matter when you go off to boarding school? What is the most common point of entry? Are there any advantages to entering in 9th grade versus entering in 10th grade? What about attending boarding school just for 11th grade or 12th grade? Does that make sense? Is it even possible? The answers to these questions depend on you and your circumstances.
 
10th Grade Entry and Academics
 
The most common entry point for American college prep boarding schools is 10th grade. That makes sense for many students because college preparatory studies usually cover a three year cycle. Most schools follow the Advanced Placement or AP program. This begins in 10th grade, as a rule, and ends in May of the senior year when students take the national AP examinations. The AP courses offered vary from school to school, so be certain to scrutinize the academic curricula carefully as you search for the right boarding school for your child. WHile most boarding schools will offer ten to fifteen AP subjects, many of them frequently offer highly specialized AP courses such as Mandarin and Japanese. These AP courses are difficult to find in many private schools. They also are not commonly found in public schools.
 
10th grade is also a sensible entry point at boarding schools which offer the IB or International Baccalaureate programme. The IB programme has many programme specific features which are best started at
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Updated   July 26, 2017 |
5 Steps for Choosing a Boarding School
Choosing a boarding school involves several steps. We guide you through the process and offer advice and help.

Choosing a boarding or private day school is a process involving several steps. Fortunately for you and me the Internet makes the first step a whole lot easier. Sites like Boarding School Review and Private School Review take the work out of finding schools. Use our Applications Calendar to keep you organized.

Step 1: Identify Schools

Let your imagination and wishes run wild at this stage. Look at any and every school which catches your fancy. Take time to really explore each school's web site. Many of them have excellent video tours. Read what the students have to say about their school. Both Boarding School Review and Private School Review have student comments. Many school web sites have comments as well, although you probably will find that those comments are pretty positive. Boarding School Review and Private School Review do not filter student comments.

Bookmark school web addresses or swipe and paste the URLs into a spreadsheet. That makes the next step in the process really easy. You should end up with a list of 15-20 schools, but don't worry if you have more than that.

And don't worry at this stage about which school is the best one for your child. More about how to deal with that question later.

Step 2: Narrow Your List

This is one of the more time consuming parts of the process of choosing a private school. Why? Because

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Recent Articles
What Makes Boarding School Special?
January 16, 2018
Several things make boarding school special. The learning, the community, the sports. All these and more.
Why a Progressive School?
January 16, 2018
Sending your son or daughter to a progressive school sounds like a real leap of faith. It is, that is, until you look more closely at the kind of education your child will receive. Then you will understand the idealism in action which progressive schools embody.
What's Your Marketing Team Doing This Summer?
January 16, 2018
The ideas and suggestions offered here are aimed at the small to medium-sized schools which have limited marketing resources.
Choosing a School

Getting Started