When looking for a boarding school the top 10 things to look for is the location, school size, academics, faculty and staff, dorms and campus facilities, weekend activities, whether it’s religious, military, single sex or coed, has a good athletic program, college placement, and if the tuition is affordable.
Decide what type of weather you would like to live in. Do you prefer the warm tropical weather like Admiral Farragut Academy or do you want to experience the four seasons like our old location in Pine Beach, New Jersey? Do you want to attend a school near a large city or be tucked away in the country? Weather can affect your mood and it is very important to take this into consideration. Consider where you live now and what kind of climate you are considering. Visit several schools so that you can compare and get a better idea of what will make you happy. Most boarding schools have larger campuses than normal. Research the surrounding towns and cities to find out about more about the atmosphere of where you will be living.
Consider the size of the boarding school. Do you want to attend a small school where you will know everyone’s name or a large school? Think about what type of students attend this boarding school. Is this school primarily a boarding school or are there day students too? Having a day student component allows boarding students to go home on the weekends with local families. Most schools have a percentage of international students. Ask about what countries and states are represented. Ask to visit for a day so that you can meet the students and see if it feels like home.
All boarding schools offer an excellent college preparatory education. Look for schools that offer the area of study that you are interested in. If you know that you want to study something specific, find the school that offers the classes you want. Maybe you want to be an engineer, find out what kind of science and math classes are offered and if they have a robotics club. Find out if tutorials are offered before and after school and ask about evening study hall. Boarding schools offer small classes and teach life skills. Visit websites to learn more about the benefits of boarding versus day schools.
Faculty and Staff
Boarding schools are your home away from home. You want to know who you will be spending your days with and make sure you are comfortable. Find out how many faculty members live on campus and who they are. Ask if you will have an adviser or mentor to help you when you are feeling homesick. Connect with current students online to ask questions about the atmosphere of the school and the faculty and staff.
Dorm & Campus Facilities
Take a look at the campus and find out what type of dormitory the school has. What do the dorm rooms look like? Are there bathrooms in each room or do you walk down the hall to use a community bathroom? How many students are in each room? Ask about how the school places roommates and what to expect. Does the campus have wifi? Will you have access to a gym on the weekends? Do students like the food in the dining hall? How far do you walk to get to class? Ask about the security on campus and the guidelines for leaving campus. Remember that this will be your home away from home and you want to enjoy your experience.
What do you want to do on your weekends? Do you want to be visiting major cities on the weekends or staying on campus and playing a game of basketball in the gym? Find out what most students do on the weekends. Weekends give you a lot of free time and this is when you can feel homesick or bored. It is important to find a school that will fill your time with options. Take a look at the location to see what options will be available. If a school is located near the beaches or amusement parks you know that you will have access to those types of activities on the weekends. Find out if there is a calendar online with a schedule of boarding events and activities.
Religious/ Military/ Single Sex/ Coed
Do you want a school with structure and discipline? Do you think you need a single sex school to stay focused? Ask yourself if you want to attend a traditional boarding school or do you want to explore the other types out there. Every school is unique and has its own environment. You want to find the school where you feel most comfortable. Schools have different teaching styles and values. Do you want to wear a uniform or have the freedom to wear what you want. There are so many types of boarding schools, find the one that best fits your personality.
Find out what activities and sports are offered. Boarding schools can offer different sports and activities based on their location. Some schools are located on the water and can offer sailing others are in the mountains and offer skiing. Most boarding schools will encourage you to participate in sports because it is important to keep a balanced lifestyle. Do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? Ask about the number of state champions and how competitive the school is amongst their competitors.
Most boarding schools are college preparatory and they will mentor each student to find the right university. The College Placement Director is the person who will meet with the students as young as 9th grade and keep them on the right track all the way to graduation. Ask the school to provide a list of their college placement and compare it to your goals. Take a look at the AP classes or dual enrollment classes offered.
Make a budget and then investigate to see which schools would be options for you. Always ask about financial aid and other scholarships. Factor in the expenses of flights, books, spending money and ask about extra fees. Most boarding schools are non-profit organizations and they are tuition driven. Schools with large endowments usually have the flexibility to offer more financial aid.