Boarding school conjures up images of ivy-covered buildings, students in uniforms walking across quads, and perhaps even a certain magical castle in Scotland. But beyond the idyllic setting, parents have many practical reasons for sending their child away to boarding school.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Parents often choose boarding school to provide their child with exceptional academics, character development, and preparation for college in an immersive 24/7 educational environment.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we’ll explore the key factors that motivate parents to take the leap in sending their child to boarding school. We’ll look at the benefits of boarding school academics, extracurricular activities, community living, and college preparation.

We’ll also consider the opposing viewpoints, like separation from family, and dive into the steps parents take when researching and applying to boarding schools.

Boarding School Offers Rigorous Academics

One of the main reasons why parents choose to send their child to boarding school is the rigorous academic opportunities that these institutions offer. Boarding schools are known for providing a challenging and comprehensive curriculum that prepares students for success in college and beyond.

Advanced Curriculum and Small Classes

Boarding schools often have an advanced curriculum that goes beyond the standard requirements. They offer a wide range of advanced placement (AP) courses, International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, and specialized academic tracks.

These schools also typically have small class sizes, which allows for more individualized attention and a more engaging learning environment. Students benefit from close interactions with their teachers and have the opportunity to delve deeper into the subjects that interest them.

Focus on STEM and Other In-Demand Subjects

Many boarding schools place a strong emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. They offer specialized programs and state-of-the-art facilities to support hands-on learning in these fields.

This focus on STEM subjects is particularly valuable in today’s job market, where these skills are in high demand. Additionally, boarding schools often provide a well-rounded education that includes humanities, arts, and foreign languages, ensuring that students have a broad range of knowledge and skills.

Credentialed Faculty and Individual Attention

Boarding schools boast highly qualified and experienced faculty members who are experts in their respective fields. These teachers are dedicated to providing a high-quality education and are committed to the success of their students.

With smaller class sizes, they are able to give students more individual attention and personalized instruction. This level of support and expertise helps students excel academically and reach their full potential.

Preparation for College-Level Academics

Another advantage of boarding schools is their focus on preparing students for the rigors of college-level academics. The demanding coursework, critical thinking skills, and time management required in boarding school help students develop the necessary skills and habits to succeed in higher education.

Boarding schools also offer college counseling services, helping students navigate the college application process and choose the right path for their future.

Character Development Through Residential Life

One of the main reasons parents choose to send their child to boarding school is for the character development opportunities that come with living in a residential setting. Boarding schools provide a unique environment where students have the chance to grow and mature in ways that may not be possible in a traditional day school setting.

Living Independently in a Diverse Community

Boarding schools offer students the opportunity to live independently in a diverse community. Students come from various backgrounds and cultures, allowing them to interact and form friendships with individuals who have different perspectives and experiences.

This exposure to diversity helps students develop a greater understanding and appreciation for different cultures, fostering tolerance and empathy.

According to a study conducted by the National Association of Independent Schools, students who attend boarding school are more likely to have friends from different racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds compared to their peers in day schools.

This exposure to diversity not only enriches their social lives but also prepares them for the global society they will encounter in the future.

Developing Social Skills

Living in a boarding school environment provides ample opportunities for students to develop their social skills. They are constantly surrounded by their peers, which helps them learn how to navigate social situations, build relationships, and resolve conflicts.

In a boarding school, students are encouraged to communicate effectively, collaborate with others, and work as a team.

According to a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, boarding school students tend to have higher levels of social support compared to students in day schools. This support system, combined with the close-knit community found in boarding schools, allows students to develop strong interpersonal skills and form lasting friendships.

Learning Accountability and Responsibility

Boarding school life instills a sense of accountability and responsibility in students. Living away from home requires students to take ownership of their actions, manage their time effectively, and meet their academic and personal obligations.

Boarding school students often have structured routines, with set study hours and designated times for extracurricular activities. This helps them develop self-discipline and time management skills, which are essential for success in college and beyond.

According to a survey conducted by The Association of Boarding Schools, 86% of boarding school students felt that their school helped them develop independence, self-discipline, and responsibility. These skills are not only beneficial during their time at boarding school but also lay a strong foundation for their future endeavors.

Cultivating Leadership Skills

Boarding schools provide numerous opportunities for students to cultivate their leadership skills. Whether it’s through serving as a prefect, participating in student government, or leading a club or team, students are encouraged to take on leadership roles and make a positive impact within their school community.

According to a study conducted by The Association of Boarding Schools, boarding school students are more likely to hold leadership positions compared to their peers in day schools. This emphasis on leadership development helps students build confidence, develop effective communication and decision-making skills, and prepares them to take on leadership roles in the future.

Breadth of Extracurriculars and Athletics

Pursuing Passions and Trying New Activities

One of the reasons why parents choose to send their child to a boarding school is the opportunity for them to pursue their passions and try new activities. Boarding schools often offer a wide range of extracurricular programs, allowing students to explore their interests beyond academics.

Whether it’s joining a debate club, learning to play a musical instrument, or participating in theater productions, boarding schools provide a platform for students to discover and develop their talents.

This breadth of extracurriculars not only enriches their educational experience but also helps them grow as individuals.

Competing in Varsity and Club Sports

In addition to a diverse array of extracurricular activities, boarding schools also prioritize athletics and provide students with the opportunity to compete in varsity and club sports. This not only allows students to stay physically active but also teaches them valuable lessons in teamwork, discipline, and perseverance.

Boarding schools often have state-of-the-art sports facilities and experienced coaches, ensuring that students receive top-notch training and support. Whether it’s basketball, soccer, swimming, or tennis, boarding schools offer a wide range of sports options for students to choose from.

Developing Teamwork and Sportsmanship

Participating in sports at a boarding school goes beyond just physical fitness. It also helps students develop important life skills such as teamwork and sportsmanship. Through team practices, competitions, and interactions with teammates, students learn how to collaborate, communicate, and work towards a common goal.

They also learn how to handle both victories and defeats with grace and sportsmanship. These lessons learned on the playing field can have a profound impact on a student’s personal and professional development.

According to a study conducted by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, participation in extracurricular activities, including sports, has been linked to improved academic performance, increased self-esteem, and a reduced risk of negative behaviors such as drug use and delinquency.

Boarding schools recognize the importance of extracurriculars and athletics in a student’s overall growth and provide ample opportunities for them to explore their interests and develop essential life skills.

Preparation for College Admissions

One of the main reasons why parents send their child to boarding school is to prepare them for the college admissions process. Boarding schools often offer guidance and support for students when it comes to applications and interviews.

Guidance with Applications and Interviews

Boarding schools understand the importance of a strong college application and work closely with students to ensure they have the necessary guidance and resources. They provide assistance with crafting compelling personal statements, choosing appropriate extracurricular activities, and showcasing academic achievements.

Additionally, boarding schools often offer mock interviews to help students feel more confident and prepared for the college admissions process.

According to a study conducted by the Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), boarding school students are more likely to receive guidance and support in the college admissions process compared to students in public or private day schools.

Opportunities to Stand Out

Boarding schools provide a unique environment that allows students to stand out from their peers. With smaller class sizes and a focus on individual growth and development, students have the opportunity to showcase their talents and interests in a more personalized setting.

Research conducted by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) found that boarding school students are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities and take on leadership roles, which can strengthen their college applications.

High Matriculation to Top Colleges

Another advantage of attending boarding school is the high matriculation rate to top colleges and universities. Boarding schools have a reputation for producing well-rounded and academically successful students, which can make them attractive candidates for prestigious institutions.

According to data from the Independent School Data Exchange (INDEX), boarding school students have a higher acceptance rate at Ivy League schools compared to students from other educational backgrounds.

Considering the Downsides of Boarding School

Separation from Family

One of the main downsides of sending a child to boarding school is the separation from their family. While some children may thrive in an independent environment, others may struggle with being away from their parents and siblings for an extended period of time.

This separation can lead to feelings of loneliness and homesickness, which can negatively impact a child’s emotional well-being.

According to a study conducted by the National Association of Independent Schools, 70% of parents reported that their child experienced some level of homesickness during their first year at boarding school.

It is important for parents to consider their child’s emotional needs and ability to cope with being away from home before making the decision to send them to boarding school.

Potential for Homesickness

Homesickness is a common challenge that many students face when attending boarding school. Being away from the comfort of home and familiar surroundings can be difficult for some children, especially during the initial adjustment period.

It is important for parents to be aware of this potential challenge and provide their child with the necessary support and encouragement to help them cope with homesickness.

Studies have shown that homesickness can have a significant impact on a child’s academic performance and overall well-being. According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescence, students who experienced homesickness had lower grades and higher levels of stress compared to their non-homesick peers.

This highlights the importance of addressing homesickness and providing appropriate resources and support for students in boarding schools.

High Costs

Another factor to consider when sending a child to boarding school is the high costs associated with it. Boarding schools typically come with a hefty price tag, including tuition fees, room and board, and additional expenses such as textbooks, uniforms, and extracurricular activities.

These costs can add up quickly and may not be feasible for every family.

According to a report by the Independent Schools Council, the average cost of boarding school in the United States is around $55,000 per year. This is a significant financial commitment that not all families can afford.

It is important for parents to carefully evaluate their financial situation and determine if the benefits of boarding school outweigh the financial burden it may impose.

Not Right for Every Student

While boarding school can offer a unique and enriching educational experience for some students, it is not the right fit for everyone. Each child is unique and has different needs and preferences when it comes to their education.

Some students may thrive in a structured and independent environment, while others may prefer the familiarity and support of a traditional day school.

It is important for parents to consider their child’s personality, learning style, and individual needs when deciding whether boarding school is the right choice. Not all children will thrive in a boarding school setting, and it is crucial to choose an educational environment that best suits their individual strengths and interests.

The Boarding School Application Process

Applying to boarding school can be an exciting and transformative experience for both parents and students. The process involves several important steps that ensure the best fit for the child’s educational and personal growth. Here are some key aspects of the boarding school application process:

Researching Schools That Fit Your Needs

One of the first steps in the boarding school application process is researching schools that align with your child’s needs and aspirations. It’s essential to consider factors such as academic programs, extracurricular activities, campus culture, and location.

Websites like Boarding School Review provide comprehensive information on various boarding schools, including student reviews and ratings, to help parents make well-informed decisions.

Visiting Campus for Interviews and Overnights

Once you have identified potential boarding schools, it is highly recommended to visit the campuses for interviews and overnights. This firsthand experience allows parents and students to get a sense of the school’s atmosphere, meet faculty and staff, and interact with current students.

It’s an opportunity to ask questions, observe classes, and assess whether the school’s environment aligns with your child’s personality and goals.

Applying Early for Best Results

Boarding schools often have limited spots available, and competition can be fierce. To increase your child’s chances of acceptance, it is advisable to apply early. Many schools have rolling admissions, where they review applications as they are received.

Applying early not only demonstrates your enthusiasm but also ensures that your child’s application receives thorough consideration.

Understanding Financial Aid Options

Finances can play a significant role in the decision to send a child to boarding school. It’s important to explore the financial aid options offered by different schools and understand the application process for financial assistance.

Many boarding schools provide need-based scholarships, grants, and payment plans to make education more accessible. Websites like NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) offer valuable information on financial aid resources and guidelines.

By following these steps in the boarding school application process, parents can ensure that they find the right fit for their child’s education and personal development. It’s an investment in their future, providing them with a supportive and enriching environment to thrive academically and socially.


While boarding school requires significant commitment from both parents and students, it provides tremendous opportunities for personal growth and preparation for higher education and beyond. By thoughtfully researching schools, visiting campuses, and evaluating their child’s needs and goals, parents can determine if boarding school is the right step.

For many families, the immersive world of boarding school instills independence, self-discipline, and other vital life skills in students.

Boarding school allows students to flourish academically and socially in an educational environment optimized for learning. While sending a child away is difficult, most boarding school parents report it was one of the best decisions they made for their child’s future.

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