College Prep Boarding Schools

American boarding schools do not have the centuries-long traditions of their European counterparts, some of which began in the Middle Ages. Even the most famous boarding schools considered training grounds for elite universities only date back to the early 1900s or so. Boarding schools went out of fashion in the 1970s, but today they are making a comeback as university admissions become more and more competitive.

PROS
Boarding schools often offer small class sizes taught by educators with advanced degrees. They may have better equipment for science, art and other subjects, and maintain extensive libraries and sports facilities. Some offer study abroad programs or special opportunities in unusual or expensive sports like rugby and horseback riding or esoteric subjects like filmmaking and psychology. The average boarding school has a 150-acre campus, usually with nature activities available.

Most boarding school students are serious and college-bound. The school usually employs a professional staff that does nothing but counsel students on an individual basis about college choices and careers. Students practice for college examinations.

Boarding schools usually have strict rules, dress codes and curfews. Students learn to follow schedules for classes, meals, recreation and study time – habits that carry over into their college years.

Boarding school students make friendships that last lifetimes. They enjoy traditions that date back for generations. Sometimes attending a certain school is in itself a long family tradition. Children in boarding school gain independence and learn to negotiate their everyday squabbles without adult intervention.

Although tuitions are expensive, about one-third of students receive financial aid that makes it affordable. Having a child in boarding school is very helpful for parents with demanding careers that keep them away from home. It can also be prestigious.

CONS
Students spend less time with parents, siblings, extended family members and hometown friends. Boarding schools can be impersonal, especially when a child is homesick. They are expensive, averaging $36,000 per year.

Children are exposed to ideas and values that may not reflect their parents'. The strict rules and rigid academics put many students under stress. Some public high schools offer more Advanced Placement and college-level courses than many boarding schools.

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