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How to Choose the Best-Fit Boarding School for Your Child

How to Choose the Best-Fit Boarding School for Your Child

Since most boarding schools have high academic standards and offer a variety of co-curricular activities, it is not always easy to know how to select the right one for your child. One method is to consider a school’s unique speciality and how that relates to your child’s strengths. For instance, if the school boasts of a great music programme, this may be a differentiating factor for your child. Here are some areas in which schools may distinguish themselves.

1) College Preparatory Schools:

A majority of the boarding schools in the US, Canada and the UK are college preparatory schools. They help students build a stellar academic and extracurricular profile. They also provide students with superior college preparation and opportunities. Over the years, these schools have built a strong reputation for an above-average matriculation rate and consistently send students to some of the best colleges in the world, including Oxbridge and highly selective colleges including the Ivy League. At Charterhouse in the UK, many of the professors have graduated from Oxbridge and take time to individually help aspiring students. Much of the Oxbridge preparation, such as the entrance tests, is taken care of as part of the academic timetable. Ridley College in Canada follows a learner-centred and inquiry-based education. This helps prepare students for higher education at some of the most selective institutions. 

2) Sports Schools:

Virtually all boarding schools offer sports facilities on campus and your child will be encouraged to take part in at least one of them. However, some schools may not offer the sport in which your child currently participates. Others may offer a dedicated programme that combines sports with academics. Montverde Academy in the US, for instance, has three Academy programmes–soccer, basketball and tennis. Here student-athletes are given advanced coaching in their sport while ensuring that they maintain high academic grades. Some schools may even have a proven track record in certain sports. Repton School in the UK has won more National Hockey titles than any other school in the country. 

3) Art Schools:

Similarly, most boarding schools have the arts integrated into their programme. Whether theatre, dance, fine arts or music, students will be able to participate in co-curricular activities at school. However, if you want a more exhaustive and specialised programme, which will help train your child for a future in the arts, you might want to consider a dedicated arts school. These schools combine pre-professional training with academics. Idyllwild Arts Academy in the US, for example, has many majors, including dance, fashion design and visual arts. Each programme at Idyllwild offers personalised attention and allows students to participate in competitions, performances, festivals and concerts while pursuing a comprehensive academic curriculum. 

4) Therapeutic Schools:

If your child needs special assistance in their academics, you may want to consider a therapeutic boarding school. With specialised teachers and programmes that provide additional structure, they offer assistance that go beyond the depth offered at most schools. They also focus on the overall development of the child, teaching them independent living and self-advocacy skills. The Landmark School in the US, for example, helps children with dyslexia and other language-based learning difficulties. Apart from small classrooms, which helps in identifying specific intervention needed, students are also supported with daily one-on-one tutorials.

5) Military Schools:

Military boarding schools, such as Riverside Military Academy in the US, are ideal if your child could benefit from having a more structured education. Military boarding schools place emphasis on leadership, discipline and self-sufficiently for both academic and personal growth. Many of these schools do not have any affiliation with any military branch. They simply take the best part of the military training and blend it with rigorous curricula and co-curricular activities.

Once you have narrowed down your options, it might be beneficial to visit the schools on your list before you decide which school is best suited for your child. It is also important to familiarise yourself with the typical entry year of a particular country’s education system so that you do not miss the application deadlines.

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The fundamental role of independent educational consultants is to help students explore college opportunities and find the right place for them to succeed academically and socially. IECs don’t get students admitted—they help students demonstrate why they deserve to be admitted at appropriately chosen schools. They help students find colleges they might not have heard of—often out of their region—and they help students put their best foot forward.

Here are 5 things families should consider when looking to hire an IEC:

  1. Does the IEC belong to a professional association such as IECA with established and rigorous standards for membership?
  2. Do not trust any offers of guaranteed admission to a school or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships.
  3. Ensure that the IEC adheres to the ethical guidelines for private counseling established by IECA.
  4. Find an IEC that visits college, school, and program campuses and meets with admissions representatives regularly in order to keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures.
  5. Do they attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes in the law?