Boarding school will provide your child with an academically rigorous environment in which education infiltrates all aspects of his or her life. Students at such institutions note that living with peers pushes them to work harder than they would in another setting.
However, for many parents, choosing the right private school is challenging. Annie Lundahl, the director of marketing for The Association of Boarding Schools(TABS), points out that “the top five or ten things to look for in a boarding school depends primarily on the student’s needs.” As such, the majority of the following items (without a particular order) represent subjective things for you to consider…
- Reputation: What do current and former students think about their education? Do alumni believe that their private boarding school prepared them for the next stages of their lives? Do parents believe that they received appropriate value for their tuition? You could consult the Fraser Institute’s annual school rankings to read about reputations. While these lists are far from exhaustive, they are a handy introduction to a given institution.
- Academic offerings: Lundahl recommends that you ask some of these questions: Are you seeking a specific discipline (i.e. biology, engineering, math, visual arts, physical education)? “Does the school specialize in a certain discipline?” Does the school offer Advanced Placement classes? Is it an International Baccalaureate institution? Does your child require English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction?
- The school’s philosophy: What is the boarding school’s general stance on education? Numerous private schools have educational outlooks that diverge from the mainstream. So, you should identify how a given school educates children and whether you agree with that approach. Lundahl believes that you should also find out whether the school has a dress code.
- Size of school: Lundahl says that you should consider where your son or daughter would work best. “Are you more comfortable in a big sea or a little sea,” she asks. What is the school’s average class size?
- Feeder schools: Plenty of boarding elementary schools have affiliate high schools. Such an arrangement could help ease the transition between these two levels of education. The lower level school could significantly reduce the stress of going to high school, while the upper level institution will have an excellent grasp on what your child’s former teachers taught him or her.
- Cultural background of the students: Lundahl thinks that you should inquire about a school’s diversity. “What is the domestic/international mix of students?” Sending your child to a boarding school with a students from various cultural backgrounds could expose him or her to new lifestyles, while living without “domestic students” could make interaction difficult.
- Tour impression: Were you impressed with the school when you visited it?
- Extracurricular activities: These programs are an important part of a well-rounded education. Does the school have a wide variety of extracurricular activities? Do you think that your child would be interested in any of them?
- Cost: Is it affordable? Are there any extra costs beyond tuition? Could you work out flexible payment plans with the school?
- Your child’s opinion: Does your child like the school? You should allow him or her to have a say in the decision.