What Is Being Taught?

Updated   May 25, 2017 |
What Is Being Taught?
You need to know what is being taught before you decide which boarding school is best for you.
One of the most important considerations in choosing a boarding school for your son or daughter is what goes on in the classroom and in the larger school community. In other words, what are they teaching and how are they teaching it?

You must never assume that, just because a school enjoys a solid reputation, has been there forever and looks wonderful on the surface, it will provide the kind of teaching you want and expect for your child. Doing your due diligence with respect to curriculum and how it is taught has to be one of the most important parts of your school evaluation process.

Here's how to proceed.
  • Observe
  • Question
  • Research
Observe
 
When you visit the school for your admissions interview, try to do so while school is in session. Summer visits are often more convenient for all of us, but you won't be able to observe any classes. Summer sessions do not usually offer a typical classroom experience. So you cannot judge the teaching or what is being taught by what you see during the summer. The teaching staff is frequently not the same as the faculty who teach during the year. Because it is summer, the whole atmosphere is much more relaxed.
 
When you visit the school and observe a class, is the class size small? Do students interact with the teacher and each other? Are they students learning how to think analytically? Are they using texts? Laptops? Are they sitting around a table in the Harkness-style classroom? Does
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Updated   June 29, 2016 |
5 Founders and Their Boarding Schools
What prompts somebody to start a boarding school? The motives range from idealism to munificence right on through to capitalism. The common thread seems to be ample capital and a vision of what education can do.
Any school is a lot of work and takes a great deal of money to open and to continue operating. So, when you look at the examples of these five founders of legendary boarding schools, you can only marvel at the sheer determination which each one had to make his or her dream come true. American boarding schools are some of the best in the world. In an age when everybody seems to be taking shots at America and what we stand for, that's a nice statement to be able to make. Here then are snapshots of the founders of five boarding schools. They are an inspiration forever, as indeed are all the founders of boarding schools throughout the United States.
 
Maria Bissell Hotchkiss and The Hotchkiss School
 
Founded in 1891
Number of students: 598
Grades 9-12, PG. Coeducational
Religious Affiliation: Nondenominational
Setting: Rural
Maria Bissell Hotchkiss had inherited a fortune from her husband Benjamin Hotchkiss. He made his money manufacturing guns. After he died, Mrs. Hotchkiss donated 65 acres of land to establish a school for boys. She wanted the school to be a feeder school for Yale University down by the shore in New Haven. Her original gift of 65 acres expanded over time into a magnificent campus of 645 acres of pristine Northwestern Connecticut countryside. Mrs. Hotchkiss' munifence also established a generous financial aid program which gave boys who could not otherwise afford the opportunity of attending The Hotchkiss School. The school became a
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Updated   February 17, 2016 |
What If Things Go Wrong?
Boarding schools have a reputation for being tough academically and from a discipline point of view. But that's not all they are.

You are thinking about boarding school. But you've heard that the work is tough. Furthermore, they will expel you in a heartbeat if you are caught doing anything seriously wrong. Is this true? Is that the way boarding schools actually work? Let's look at the facts.

The academic work is difficult.

There's no escaping the truth about academics in private school. Academics are the reason a private school exists in the first place. The academic standards are high. There is a lot of homework. There are a lot of subjects and a lot of ground to cover in every class. Sometimes the lessons are hard to understand. Just remember whenever you feel discouraged that you were admitted to the school because it felt you could do the academic work involved. The school based its decision on your academic transcripts and your admissions test scores.

The difference between taking on challenging work in a boarding school versus a public school simply is that nobody in the boarding school is going to let you sink. Why? Well, for one, the classes are small. For example, your teacher will know the instant that you are having problems grasping a math concept. You will not be humiliated in front of your peers. If you don't believe me, read the codes of conduct for any boarding school and see just how seriously they take community spirit and concern for all members of the school community. Teaching their students to be tolerant and to respect others is part

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Updated   September 28, 2017 |
Choosing a School: Comparing Schools
Use a spreadsheet to develop your initial list of schools. Here's how.
At some point in the process of choosing schools for your child, you will have to engage in the exercise of comparing certain criteria. As much as private schools can be compared – for they really can't be compared – you still need to keep track of basic information which matters to you and to your consultant.
 
This video explains how to use Google Spreadsheets.

Basics like tuition costs, acceptance rate, dress code which matter to you should be part of the spreadsheet you set up to compare schools. We are using three schools for purposes of this illustration. But you probably will want to have as many as 10-15 schools in your first group. Once that is done you can begin to eliminate the schools which don't suit your requirements as you begin to develop a short list of schools to visit and examine more closely.

 

 

Where do you get the data? It's very easy to find on this site. On the splash page near the top is a drop-down menu titled Comparisons. Choose any criterion you like. Then click on schools which interest you. All the data you need is listed for you in each school's profile.

Here's an example of what your spreadsheet could look like. We have chosen basic data but you can list whatever criteria matter to you in the first column of the spreadsheet.

 

 

 
Exeter
Andover
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Updated   July 17, 2017 |
Boarding Schools: True or False
The media loves to focus on things like elitism and how boarding schools are just for troubled kids. Let's look at the truth.
The media loves to focus on things like elitism and how boarding schools are just for troubled kids. Let's look at the truth. Boarding schools....
 
Are just for rich kids.
 
False. Since about 2000 private schools have been very proactive in seeking out qualified applicants, regardless of their economic circumstances. Basically, if you qualify academically and have good recommendations, you can get in. Furthermore, most schools offer financial aid packages. These vary from school to school, as each school is a standalone corporate entity with its own policies and procedures regarding financial aid. Several schools now offer a tuition-free education where family incomes fall below a specific threshold, typically $75,000 to $100,000.
 
Here is an overview of The Kiski School.
 
 
Don't let you have a life.
 
False. While it is true that boarding schools will supervise your whereabouts at all times, the idea that you won't have a life is simply false. In fact there will be so much to do at boarding school that there will be times when you will wonder how you will be able to fit it all in. Sports two days a week and extracurricular activities of every conceivable kind provide a nice counterpoint to your academic studies. Field trips and social activities are also part of the package. Yes, there is time for yourself too so you can chill, listen to your music and chat with your friends. The rhythm of boarding school life provides a solid
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