Boarding School Admissions: Strategies to Get Into the Best Boarding Schools

If you’re considering sending your child to a boarding school, here are all the essential information you need to succeed from the best boarding school consultants at Cardinal Education.

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What is a boarding school?

A boarding school is an educational institution where middle or high school students reside in dorms on campus, sharing living spaces, meals, and recreational activities. Students typically follow a structured daily schedule that includes academic classes, extracurricular activities, and study periods. This unique setup and environment foster independence, social development, and a sense of community. Boarding schools can be coeducational or single-gender and may vary in focus ranging from academics, arts, or athletics. 

Why choose a boarding school? 

Parents choose to send their children to boarding schools for various reasons. Most often, their decision comes from wanting to be part of the excellent and rigorous college preparatory curriculum that boarding schools offer. The structured routine and residential setting encourage discipline, time management, responsibility, and independence allowing students to focus on their studies and build strong academic foundations. Additionally, boarding schools offer a wide array of extracurricular activities that not only help in developing skills and talents but also add value to their college applications later on. 

What are the benefits of a boarding school?

  1. Academics – Boarding schools have a rigorous curriculum designed to provide students with a comprehensive, challenging, and intellectually stimulating college preparatory education. Advanced classes that merit credits in college are offered such as AP, IB, and Honors classes. 
  2. Time Management – There is a definite structure in the activities at a boarding school and a daily routine that students need to follow. As a result, they can manage their time and become more disciplined in handling their tasks.
  3. Independence – Living far from home and away from their comfort zones, students become more independent and responsible for themselves. They tend to their own needs and find solutions to their problems. 
  4. Personal Development – Boarding schools have a diverse population with students coming from different backgrounds and nationalities. Students do not only interact with each other, they also learn about different cultures making them well-rounded individuals.
  5. Extracurricular Activities – Students can participate in a wide range of extracurricular activities, including community service, sports, the arts, drama, and music. Students can explore their hobbies and hone their leadership abilities through these programs.
  6. College Readiness – Aside from the college preparatory curriculum, boarding schools have a vast resource to help them prepare for college. Review and test preparation classes for admissions tests are available as well as college counseling sessions with counselors who guide them through the application process.
  7. Tradition – Studying at a boarding school is part of a long tradition for some families and is considered a heritage. Many people find it meaningful to be part of a legacy that is passed down from one generation to the next.
  8. Confidence in Speaking – Most classes and activities are interactive and require more speaking and participation. As a result, students who graduate from boarding schools are better and more confident speakers.

What is life like at a boarding school?

Life at a boarding school is a unique experience where students live together in dormitories on campus. This extraordinary environment promotes a strong feeling of community, develops lasting friendships, and builds relevant networks. It entails spending a lot of time away from family and adjusting to a more regimented routine that includes a predetermined timetable for activities. Classes, meals, extracurriculars, sports, and study sessions all have designated times. Students engage in various extracurricular activities and have the opportunity to excel and develop leadership skills which are important when it comes to college admissions.

Is it hard to get into a boarding school?

Boarding school admissions can be extremely daunting and competitive. Top boarding schools such as Phillips Exeter, Phillips Andover, Ransom Everglades, and Milton Academy are very selective and have a low acceptance rate. Your child will be competing against the best students with the same GPA, test scores, and scholastic achievements, so it is very important to be differentiated from the rest. Academic performance, standardized test scores, recommendation letters, and extracurricular activities are meticulously evaluated by the admissions committee. Some boarding schools may also require admissions interviews, personal statements, and essays as part of the application process. Admissions consultants who are well-versed in boarding school admissions can help you prepare a strong application profile that demonstrates your child’s uniqueness, which will increase your chances of acceptance. Our admissions consulting packages include tutoring, academic coaching, interview preparation, test prep, SSAT practice tests, and ISEE practice tests.  

What do boarding schools look for in applicants?

  1. Academic Excellence
    The most prestigious boarding schools are looking for students who are academically excellent, which means having high grades, impressive scores on standardized tests, and active participation in classes. Boarding schools have a rigorous curriculum and they want students who have the potential to succeed.
  2. Interpersonal Skills
    Admissions officers at private boarding schools are looking for well-rounded students. Applicants should display maturity in terms of interacting with others and building relationships since they will be living with other students from diverse backgrounds. They should be able to maintain healthy relationships with peers, teachers, and staff.
  3. Leadership Skills
    Building future leaders is one of the most important goals of a boarding school. Living independently away from home necessitates that a student be able to lead himself, and along the way, be able to guide and mentor others as well. Applicants who have taken leadership roles in their previous schools gain an advantage.
  4. Extracurricular Activities
    Boarding schools value applicants who take active participation in a variety of extracurricular activities such as arts, theater, music, sports, community service, and other school clubs. Extracurricular activities allow students to discover, explore, and develop their talents and skills. A student who is not participative in activities will give admissions officers the impression that they are not well-rounded and have difficulty interacting with others.
  5. Recommendations
    Current teachers, administrators, mentors, and counselors are the best people who can give a clear picture of an applicant in terms of academic achievement, behavior, character and personality, leadership skills, motivation, and ability to succeed. Good and shining recommendations will merit extra points toward admission.

What is boarding school admissions consulting?

Boarding school admissions consulting is the process of hiring an independent admissions consultant to help students get into the best boarding schools. Cardinal Education is a world-class admissions consulting company that has almost two decades of experience in helping families reach their academic goals. Mr. Allen Koh, founder, and CEO works with the most successful families and knows everything about boarding school admissions.

Our boarding school admissions consulting is individualized to meet the needs and goals of each family. We always advise families to start preparations early to reduce stress and achieve optimal results. We offer support in the following areas:

  1. Profile Development
    A strong application profile is not built overnight. Boarding school admissions officers are looking for strengths in different areas so it is important to build experiences and exemplary achievements to create a strong profile. To achieve these, our admissions consultants choose the best strategies that fit the student’s interests.
  2. School Selection
    There are many considerations to choosing the best-fit boarding school. We help families decide according to their goals and circumstances. We are very honest when it comes to school selection because we want students to succeed and maximize their potential.
  3. Test Prep
    Strong test scores can always make a difference in an application as impressive test scores can differentiate a student. We offer SSAT practice tests, ISEE practice tests, and HSPT practice tests that are considered to be the best and most effective. We do not only teach the content, but we also focus on test-taking strategies to make students gain confidence.
  4. Proctored Writing Sample
    Several schools, especially those that have gone test-optional, require applicants to take the online Proctored Writing Sample where students must answer a prompt under time pressure. With the help of our reading and writing tutors, we aim to develop reading comprehension and writing skills to help students write compelling admissions essays and personal statements. We also help with the Character Skills Snapshot which is also one of the admission requirements for most boarding schools.  
  5. Tutoring
    Students who need help on certain subjects need tutoring to improve their grades. Our tutors offer on-site and online tutoring on a variety of academic subjects. Our tutors are highly qualified professionals in their fields. What makes our tutoring different is we carefully match the students with the tutors according to personality, character, and gender preference to ensure a more effective learning experience.
  6. Academic Coaching
    Academic coaching or academic success coaching helps students overcome and adapt to the rigors of academics. Our academic coaches offer one-on-one sessions and work with students to improve on executive function such as time management, organizational skills, notetaking skills, study skills, and test-taking strategies. We also help students with learning differences like ADHD, dyslexia, and dyscalculia.
  7. Interview Preparation
    The admissions interview is one of the most important, and sometimes, the deciding factor in the admissions process. This allows admissions officers to know the applicant personally beyond grades and test scores. It is important to display one’s unique personality and differentiation as well as the family’s goals and how they align with those of the boarding school. Through interview preparation, we build the family’s confidence through mock interviews where we ask the most probable questions for each school.

Best Boarding Schools in the U.S.

  1. Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter, New Hampshire)
  2. Phillips Academy Andover (Andover, Massachusetts)
  3. St. Paul’s School (Concord, New Hampshire)
  4. Choate Rosemary Hall (Wallingford, Connecticut)
  5. Deerfield Academy (Deerfield, Massachusetts)
  6. Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, Connecticut)
  7. Groton School (Groton, Massachusetts)
  8. Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, New Jersey)
  9. The Thacher School (Ojai, California)
  10. Milton Academy (Milton, Massachusetts)
  11. The Taft School (Watertown, Connecticut)
  12. Loomis Chaffee School (Windsor, Connecticut)
  13. The Hill School (Pottstown, Pennsylvania)
  14. St. Mark’s School (Southborough, Massachusetts)
  15. St. George’s School (Middletown, Rhode Island)
  16. Northfield Mount Hermon School (Mount Hermon, Massachusetts)
  17. The Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, Connecticut)
  18. The Peddie School (Hightstown, New Jersey)
  19. Westminster School (Simsbury, Connecticut)
  20. The Governor’s Academy (Byfield, Massachusetts)
  21. The Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, New Jersey)
  22. The Gunnery (Washington, Connecticut)
  23. The Kent School (Kent, Connecticut)
  24. The Pingry School (Martinsville, New Jersey)
  25. Pomfret School (Pomfret, Connecticut)
  26. The Roxbury Latin School (West Roxbury, Massachusetts)
  27. The Webb Schools (Claremont, California)
  28. The Putney School (Putney, Vermont)
  29. Mercersburg Academy (Mercersburg, Pennsylvania)
  30. The Groton School (Groton, Massachusetts)
  31. The Williston Northampton School (Easthampton, Massachusetts)
  32. The Rivers School (Weston, Massachusetts)
  33. The Brooks School (North Andover, Massachusetts)
  34. The Middlesex School (Concord, Massachusetts)
  35. The Canterbury School (New Milford, Connecticut)
  36. The St. Andrew’s School (Middletown, Delaware)
  37. The Berkshire School (Sheffield, Massachusetts)
  38. The Cate School (Carpinteria, California)
  39. The St. Paul’s School (Concord, New Hampshire)
  40. The Dublin School (Dublin, New Hampshire)
  41. The Tabor Academy (Marion, Massachusetts)
  42. The Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School (Waltham, Massachusetts)
  43. The Emma Willard School (Troy, New York)
  44. The Cheshire Academy (Cheshire, Connecticut)
  45. The Marvelwood School (Kent, Connecticut)
  46. The Eaglebrook School (Deerfield, Massachusetts)
  47. The Salisbury School (Salisbury, Connecticut)
  48. The Millbrook School (Millbrook, New York)
  49. The Blair Academy (Blairstown, New Jersey)
  50. The Pomfret School (Pomfret, Connecticut)

Best Boarding Schools in the World

  1. Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter, New Hampshire, USA)
  2. Phillips Academy Andover (Andover, Massachusetts, USA)
  3. Eton College (Eton, United Kingdom)
  4. Harrow School (Harrow, United Kingdom)
  5. Westminster School (London, United Kingdom)
  6. St. Paul’s School (London, United Kingdom)
  7. Charterhouse School (Godalming, United Kingdom)
  8. Winchester College (Winchester, United Kingdom)
  9. UWC Atlantic College (Vale of Glamorgan, Wales)
  10. The Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, New Jersey, USA)
  11. The Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, Connecticut, USA)
  12. Institut Le Rosey (Rolle, Switzerland)
  13. Aiglon College (Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland)
  14. The American School in Switzerland (TASIS) (Lugano, Switzerland)
  15. Leysin American School (Leysin, Switzerland)
  16. Cranbrook Schools (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA)
  17. The Thacher School (Ojai, California, USA)
  18. United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) (Singapore)
  19. St. George’s School (Vancouver, Canada)
  20. Roedean School (Brighton, United Kingdom)
  21. St. Mary’s School Ascot (Ascot, United Kingdom)
  22. Shrewsbury School (Shrewsbury, United Kingdom)
  23. Oundle School (Oundle, United Kingdom)
  24. Rugby School (Rugby, United Kingdom)
  25. Marlborough College (Marlborough, United Kingdom)
  26. Geelong Grammar School (Corio, Australia)
  27. The King’s School (Canterbury, United Kingdom)
  28. Wellington College (Berkshire, United Kingdom)
  29. Stowe School (Stowe, United Kingdom)
  30. Gordonstoun School (Elgin, Scotland)
  31. Brighton College (Brighton, United Kingdom)
  32. Milton Academy (Milton, Massachusetts, USA)
  33. Diocesan College (Bishops) (Cape Town, South Africa)
  34. The Cate School (Carpinteria, California, USA)
  35. Cranbrook Kingswood School (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA)
  36. St. Andrew’s College (Grahamstown, South Africa)
  37. The Doon School (Dehradun, India)
  38. Trinity College School (Port Hope, Canada)
  39. The Scots College (Bellevue Hill, Australia)
  40. Hsinchu International School (Hsinchu, Taiwan)
  41. St. John’s College (Johannesburg, South Africa)
  42. Shattuck-St. Mary’s School (Faribault, Minnesota, USA)
  43. Woodstock School (Mussoorie, India)
  44. American School in London (London, United Kingdom)
  45. Hebron Academy (Hebron, Maine, USA)
  46. St. Peter’s College (Adelaide, Australia)
  47. Colegio San Ignacio (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
  48. St. Stephen’s School (Rome, Italy)
  49. St. Christopher’s School (Richmond, Virginia, USA)
  50. Marymount International School London (London, United Kingdom)

Christian Boarding Schools

  1. Baylor School (Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA)
  2. St. Paul’s School (Concord, New Hampshire, USA)
  3. Woodberry Forest School (Woodberry Forest, Virginia, USA)
  4. Cistercian Preparatory School (Irving, Texas, USA)
  5. St. Mark’s School of Texas (Dallas, Texas, USA)
  6. Canterbury School (Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA)
  7. Westminster Christian Academy (St. Louis, Missouri, USA)
  8. Second Baptist School (Houston, Texas, USA)
  9. Providence School (Jacksonville, Florida, USA)
  10. Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA)
  11. The Stony Brook School (Stony Brook, New York, USA)
  12. Regents School of Austin (Austin, Texas, USA)
  13. Geneva School of Boerne (Boerne, Texas, USA)
  14. St. Timothy’s School (Stevenson, Maryland, USA)
  15. The King’s Academy (Seymour, Tennessee, USA)
  16. Mount Paran Christian School (Kennesaw, Georgia, USA)
  17. Northside Christian Academy (Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
  18. Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, North Carolina, USA)
  19. Trinity Christian School (Shorewood, Illinois, USA)
  20. Norfolk Christian Schools (Norfolk, Virginia, USA)
  21. Cedarville University (Cedarville, Ohio, USA)
  22. Ben Lippen School (Columbia, South Carolina, USA)
  23. Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School (Rabun Gap, Georgia, USA)
  24. Wesley College (Bristol, United Kingdom)
  25. Covenant Christian Academy (Colleyville, Texas, USA)
  26. Liberty Christian Academy (Lynchburg, Virginia, USA)
  27. Brainerd Baptist School (Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA)
  28. Wesley College (Doveton, Australia)
  29. King’s Ridge Christian School (Alpharetta, Georgia, USA)
  30. Trinity-Pawling School (Pawling, New York, USA)
  31. Wesley College (South Dublin, Ireland)
  32. Lake Mary Preparatory School (Lake Mary, Florida, USA)
  33. St. Paul Christian School (Guam)
  34. Wesley College (Glen Waverley, Australia)
  35. Tema International School (Tema, Ghana)
  36. Wesley College (Ballinteer, Ireland)
  37. Wesley College (Melbourne, Australia)
  38. Wesley College (Bristol, United Kingdom)
  39. Trinity Christian School (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  40. Tema Parents Association School (Tema, Ghana)
  41. Wesley International School (Pune, India)
  42. Port Nelson United Church (Burlington, Canada)
  43. Wesley College (Bristol, United Kingdom)
  44. St. Francis Christian School (St. Catharines, Canada)
  45. Wesley College (Dublin, Ireland)
  46. The King’s School (Parramatta, Australia)
  47. Wesley College (Glen Waverley, Australia)
  48. Wesley International School (Yogyakarta, Indonesia)
  49. Wesley College (Glen Waverley, Australia)
  50. Wesley College (Perth, Australia)

Equestrian Boarding Schools

  1. Millfield School (Somerset, England)
  2. The Bolles School (Jacksonville, Florida, USA)
  3. Hartpury College (Gloucestershire, England)
  4. The Madeira School (McLean, Virginia, USA)
  5. IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida, USA)
  6. Foxcroft School (Middleburg, Virginia, USA)
  7. Culver Academies (Culver, Indiana, USA)
  8. Bishop Strachan School (Toronto, Canada)
  9. Rocky Mountain College (Billings, Montana, USA)
  10. Andrews Osborne Academy (Willoughby, Ohio, USA)
  11. Garrison Forest School (Owings Mills, Maryland, USA)
  12. Chatham Hall (Chatham, Virginia, USA)
  13. Linden Hall School (Lititz, Pennsylvania, USA)
  14. The Webb School (Bell Buckle, Tennessee, USA)
  15. The Hill School (Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA)
  16. Tilton School (Tilton, New Hampshire, USA)
  17. Dana Hall School (Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA)
  18. Randolph-Macon Academy (Front Royal, Virginia, USA)
  19. The Thacher School (Ojai, California, USA)
  20. St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School (Sewanee, Tennessee, USA)
  21. Baylor School (Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA)
  22. Stevenson School (Pebble Beach, California, USA)
  23. Stoneleigh-Burnham School (Greenfield, Massachusetts, USA)
  24. The Peddie School (Hightstown, New Jersey, USA)
  25. Linden Hall (Lititz, Pennsylvania, USA)
  26. Foxcroft School (Middleburg, Virginia, USA)
  27. Miss Porter’s School (Farmington, Connecticut, USA)
  28. Midland School (Los Olivos, California, USA)
  29. Oldfields School (Glencoe, Maryland, USA)
  30. Foxcroft School (Middleburg, Virginia, USA)
  31. Oakland School (Troy, Virginia, USA)
  32. Foxcroft School (Middleburg, Virginia, USA)
  33. Emma Willard School (Troy, New York, USA)
  34. Ashley Hall (Charleston, South Carolina, USA)
  35. St. George’s School (Newport, Rhode Island, USA)
  36. St. Mary’s School (Raleigh, North Carolina, USA)
  37. Cranbrook Schools (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA)
  38. Chatham Hall (Chatham, Virginia, USA)
  39. Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School (Rabun Gap, Georgia, USA)
  40. Kentucky Country Day School (Louisville, Kentucky, USA)
  41. Harpeth Hall School (Nashville, Tennessee, USA)
  42. Holton-Arms School (Bethesda, Maryland, USA)
  43. Garrison Forest School (Owings Mills, Maryland, USA)
  44. St. Paul’s School (Brooklandville, Maryland, USA)
  45. The Bishop’s School (La Jolla, California, USA)
  46. St. Timothy’s School (Stevenson, Maryland, USA)
  47. St. Mary’s School (Raleigh, North Carolina, USA)
  48. Dana Hall School (Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA)
  49. Foxcroft School (Middleburg, Virginia, USA)
  50. Harpeth Hall School (Nashville, Tennessee, USA)

Most Expensive Boarding Schools in the World

  1. Le Rosey (Rolle, Switzerland)
  2. Institut Le Rosey (Rolle, Switzerland)
  3. Institut auf dem Rosenberg (St. Gallen, Switzerland)
  4. College Alpin International Beau Soleil (Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland)
  5. Aiglon College (Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland)
  6. Collège du Léman International School (Versoix, Switzerland)
  7. The American School in Switzerland (TASIS) (Montagnola, Switzerland)
  8. Eton College (Eton, United Kingdom)
  9. Harrow School (Harrow, United Kingdom)
  10. Badminton School (Bristol, United Kingdom)
  11. Sevenoaks School (Sevenoaks, United Kingdom)
  12. Roedean School (Brighton, United Kingdom)
  13. Marlborough College (Marlborough, United Kingdom)
  14. Gordonstoun School (Elgin, United Kingdom)
  15. The Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, New Jersey, USA)
  16. The Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, Connecticut, USA)
  17. St. Paul’s School (Concord, New Hampshire, USA)
  18. Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter, New Hampshire, USA)
  19. The Hill School (Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA)
  20. Deerfield Academy (Deerfield, Massachusetts, USA)
  21. Choate Rosemary Hall (Wallingford, Connecticut, USA)
  22. Cranbrook Schools (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA)
  23. Milton Academy (Milton, Massachusetts, USA)
  24. The Loomis Chaffee School (Windsor, Connecticut, USA)
  25. The Taft School (Watertown, Connecticut, USA)
  26. The Webb Schools (Claremont, California, USA)
  27. The Westminster Schools (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
  28. St. George’s School (Middletown, Rhode Island, USA)
  29. St. Mark’s School (Southborough, Massachusetts, USA)
  30. The Thacher School (Ojai, California, USA)
  31. The Groton School (Groton, Massachusetts, USA)
  32. St. Andrew’s School (Middletown, Delaware, USA)
  33. The Governor’s Academy (Byfield, Massachusetts, USA)
  34. Northfield Mount Hermon School (Mount Hermon, Massachusetts, USA)
  35. The Putney School (Putney, Vermont, USA)
  36. The Berkshire School (Sheffield, Massachusetts, USA)
  37. The Brooks School (North Andover, Massachusetts, USA)
  38. The Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, New Jersey, USA)
  39. The Peddie School (Hightstown, New Jersey, USA)
  40. The Roxbury Latin School (West Roxbury, Massachusetts, USA)
  41. The Kent School (Kent, Connecticut, USA)
  42. The Canterbury School (New Milford, Connecticut, USA)
  43. The Tabor Academy (Marion, Massachusetts, USA)
  44. The Marvelwood School (Kent, Connecticut, USA)
  45. The Pomfret School (Pomfret, Connecticut, USA)
  46. The Salisbury School (Salisbury, Connecticut, USA)
  47. The Middlesex School (Concord, Massachusetts, USA)
  48. The Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, Connecticut, USA)
  49. The St. Paul’s School (Concord, New Hampshire, USA)
  50. The Dublin (Dublin, New Hampshire)