Choosing A Boarding School? Here Is What Parents Should Consider
More families are considering boarding school for their children. Here's what you need to consider:
Once parents have decided that boarding school is the right step for their family, the next step is to find the right-fit one to ensure that their child thrives in the new environment. In the UK alone, where the concept of boarding schools was born, there are over 500 boarding schools. Here are some factors that parents should consider when choosing a boarding school for their child:
- Natural Entry Points
Similar to day schools, boarding schools don’t allow students to enter at every grade level. Boarding schools in India and globally have different entry points–the year where students can gain admission in boarding schools. In the UK, many boarding schools have natural entry points at ages 11 (grade 6), 13 (grade 8) and 16 (grade 11). Boarding schools in India and Switzerland also have entry points at grade 6, grade 9 and grade 11. US boarding schools tend to enrol students in grade 9, before high school (grades 9 – 12) as what students study in these four years are important for higher education.
2. Curriculum and subject choices
This is a key differentiating factor among boarding schools. As most students attend boarding schools after age 11, they are used to studying in a particular curriculum. Therefore, understanding the boarding school’s curriculum is a major factor in deciding the right school.
Gunjan Gupta, who sent her daughter to study in the UK for grades 11 and 12 says, “For us choosing an IB school was imperative as our daughter has been in an IB school for her entire schooling. We did not even apply to boarding schools that didn’t offer the IB.”
In addition to the curriculum, it is important to look at the subject offered at the school as not all schools offer all subjects. A student that we worked with last year wanted to study design and technology in the IB. Very few schools in the UK, including Haileybury, offer this subject. Her list was already made!
3. Distance to Home and Family
Sending children away can be unnerving in its’ own right. Many parents prefer to send their children to boarding schools where they have close family or friends nearby or they can reach quickly in case of an emergency if needed.
“When considering boarding school option for our son for 11th and 12th grade, my husband and I only looked at schools in India. We didn’t want him to be more than five hours away, because if anything happened, we wanted the option to reach him as quickly as possible. Woodstock School in Mussorie is where we chose to send him for various reasons, but its proximity to where we live, was certainly something that was a huge decision maker,” says Sheetal Vora.
Boarding schools are an expensive affair! Some boarding schools in Switzerland, such as Institut Le Rosey can cost as much as USD 1,24,000 per year, while in the UK, the average fee is about half this amount–approximately USD 41,000 per year. Indian boarding schools that offer the local curriculum, such as The Doon School are priced at USD 14,000 per year, while Indian boarding schools that offer international curriculum, such as Woodstock School, charge almost twice as much; about USD 24,000 per year.
5. University Admissions
Many parents look at boarding school as a means to access better university admissions for their children. Top, competitive boarding schools have a history of sending their students to highly ranked global universities globally. For example, Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts sends approximately 33% of its students to Ivy League colleges. Westminster School- London, one of the schools with the most Oxbridge (University of Oxford and University of Cambridge) admissions, sees about 40% of students going to either of these two schools. Aiglon in Switzerland helps its students gain admission to competitive colleges in the US, Canada, the UK and even Australia and Singapore.
6. Discipline and Pastoral Care
Boarding schools serve as the child’s home away from home and are therefore responsible for the child’s overall well-being. To ensure discipline and focus, a structured work day is enforced. Time for extracurricular activities is also allocated. Apart from this, dorm parents are also responsible for taking care of the child’s day-to-day needs, such as the dietary requirements, mental and physical health. Understanding the school’s policies will make the parents more secure about sending their children to that boarding school.
7. Strength of the Faculty
Considering the school’s student-teacher ratio, as well as the background of the key faculty is a strong indication of the school’s ability to positively influence your child’s academic and emotional growth.
8. Extracurricular Offerings
It is important to understand the resources that each boarding school offers. For students who play competitive sports, the boarding school should have a qualified coach as well as a program for the student to succeed. Moreover, students who have an interest in drama or dance might choose a boarding school such as The Hammond School and Idyllwild Arts respectively, to ensure they can develop that particular skill.
There is no such thing as the best boarding school. There is, however, the best-fit boarding school for the child and family. In addition to considering the points above, visiting the campus and connecting with alumni and faculty, will help parents make the right decision.
On 6 November, The Red Pen, Linden Educational Services and Crayons Academy for Skills Excellence will be hosting a Boarding School Fair in Delhi. Here, parents can speak to representatives from world-renowned boarding schools in the UK, US and Canada and get details about their curriculum and application process. For more information and to register for the event, click here.