What Are Boarding Schools Really Like?

American boarding schools have a long history and a solid reputation for producing successful college students. When people mention boarding schools…

I’m A Leader Now

My middle school graduation left me both excited and apprehensive. Excited because….

Our Son Is Independent

At first we had reservations about sending our second oldest son to boarding school….

My Daughter Is Flourishing With Confidence

A few years ago I felt like I was losing my 14-year-old daughter. Her grades….

Welcome to American Boarding Schools, Your Online Guide to Your Child’s Future.

Nothing unlocks future success in life and in business like an American education, and now, parents the world over can find the ideal school to match their budget, their focus, and their dreams for their children’s future.

The benefits of a U.S. education are so numerous that it’s no wonder so many loving parents wish to take advantage of those benefits.

  • High Academic Standards: Almost all private boarding schools prepare their students for college success with challenging academic curriculums.
  • Small Class Sizes: These schools almost always have small, close-knit student bodies that benefit from individualized student focus.
  • Dedicated Faculty: Most teachers live among the students and are able to better mentor their students’ academic success.
  • Superior Resources: These schools are blessed with some of the best and most exclusive libraries, theaters, athletic facilities, and campus resources in the world.
  • Diverse Approaches to Education: From artistic to military to therapeutic and everything in between, these schools offer a wide range of styles and approaches to college-preparatory education.

U.S. schools also offer students unique benefits they cannot experience anywhere else in the world. Besides mastering the skills needed to succeed in college and life, your child will grow into a well-rounded, independent young adult prepared to meet any challenge. Your child will experience a world of valuable experiences and memories:

  • Self-Sufficiency: Living away from home will teach your child how to be independent and take responsibility, as well as provide countless wonderful memories.
  • Learning from Other Experiences: Students benefit from the diverse backgrounds of their classmates and teachers.
  • Community Spirit: Because most U.S. boarding schools are residential communities, students experience a stronger sense of school spirit and enthusiasm.
  • Forming Lasting Friendships: Most students report that they met some of their best and most trusted friends while attending school in the U.S.
  • Learning from Mentors: Because students and teachers live and work together, strong and valuable mentoring relationships are formed.
  • Intense English Experience: For international students, the experience is the best way to master the English language, which is so important in the world today.

Your Guide to the World of American Boarding Schools Is Now Open

Clearly, the benefits of an education at an American school are worth the costs. But with so many kinds of schools across the large and diverse United States of America, finding the right school for your child can be challenging and time-consuming. The task is even more daunting if you are the parent of an international student.

This site is your guide to the diverse and far-reaching world of U.S. schools. Our goal is to provide educational information about schools in all 50 states, and to help parents from anywhere in the world find the best school for their children.

Fill out our online form, or call our toll-free number to learn more. We’ll send you personalized and specific information about schools in your search range.

The Following Is A Comprehensive List Of The Various Boarding Schools And Educational Modalities For Families Looking For A Quality Education.




Private Schools

Most U.S. boarding schools are privately owned and operated with little or no state funding. Typically, most students and some faculty live on the school’s campus in a residential community. At a private school, the administration acts as surrogate parents for all the students. All meals and other essentials besides personal belongings are provided as part of tuition costs.

Tuition at private schools is typically much higher than at other types of preparatory or secondary schools in the United States. But tuition rates vary greatly among schools, sometimes as much or higher than some private universities.

Excellent schools in all 50 states offer a broad range of choices and focuses, from schools for troubled teens to schools catering specifically to international students.

All Boys Boarding Schools

Numerous academic studies point to the benefits of unisex education at the secondary level. When students study and live only with students of their own gender, they tend to be more focused on their studies and more likely to succeed in college. Indeed, most private schools in the United States are unisex.

Boys especially benefit from a single-sex school environment where they can receive personalized attention and specialized curriculums designed with their particular needs in mind.

In America, excellent all boys schools flourish in every state, designed around various specific curriculums, such as therapeutic, Christian, or military.

All Girls Boarding Schools

Single-sex secondary education provides girls with more academic opportunities than they would normally have in co-educational schools, for several reasons. On one hand, traditional gender roles tend to spotlight boys over girls, even in the best educational environments. In addition, social pressure and emotional stress can often hamper a girl’s academic development in a co-ed classroom.

At a girls’ school, girls are freer to gain more self-confidence, usually become more competitive, and acquire more skills that will help them become successful adults. Schools offer girls the same diverse curriculums as boys, including Christian and military.

Top Boarding Schools in the US

The quality of education found at the top boarding schools is among the best in the world. Students from these fine schools routinely score higher on SAT tests than students from other schools. The entry requirements at these top-rated schools are high, and so is the tuition.

But your child’s having the grades to get into a top school is not the only thing you need to consider when choosing a top school. Important details such as the location and cultural values of the school need to be considered carefully. Does the prestige of graduating from one of the top schools in America outweigh other factors that may not enhance your child’s future?

Private Schools for Special Needs Children

Education has come a long way in just a few generations. The term “special needs” is a case in point. It comes from the American public school system and designates a child who requires extra services to succeed academically. A special needs child may have a chronic disease such as cerebral palsy or a behavioral disorder or learning disability such as attention deficit disorder or dyslexia.

Many private schools are better equipped to handle special needs children. Some of these schools, called therapeutic schools, are specially designed with special needs children in mind. Finding good private schools for children with special needs can be even more challenging because important questions must be considered.

Performing Arts Schools

Author Ursula K. Le Guin said, “The creative adult is the child who has survived.” Children gifted in the performance arts need special environments to fully flower, and performing arts schools have blossomed all across America to meet the challenge.

Today, the term “performance arts” includes the traditional genres of music, dance, and theater, but has been expanded in many schools to include spoken word and poetry performance. Many famous singers, dancers, actors, and writers first gained confidence in their skills at performing arts schools.

Performing arts high schools offer gifted students an intense, residential experience that will transform their artistic development and give then that special environment they need to grow into flowering artists and successful adults.

Christian Schools

Schools that focus on Christian values are very popular in America, and every denomination from Catholic to Baptist is represented. The close-knit community ties built at Christian schools can last a lifetime, and many parents and students cherish the strong emphasis on Christian studies. Academic standards are often just as high as at secular schools, and some of the top schools in America are Christian schools.

Charity runs high at Christian schools, many of which focus on specific needs students. In America, you can find excellent Christian schools for troubled boys, Christian schools for special needs children, and Christian schools for girls and for boys. Christian students and their parents know that their faith plays an indispensable role in their education, and that faith is the bedrock of American Christian schools.

Therapeutic Schools

The bridge between childhood and adult we call the teenage years is often a difficult one to cross. Therapeutic schools are designed to help troubled teens make that transition. These schools help students suffering from a host of disorders, both physical and psychological, become better students and well-adjusted adults.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, depression, anxiety, Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder: A babel of diagnoses affects many teens today. Also, many of these troubled teens have substance abuse problems. These schools offer the tightly structured, varied, and stimulating environment these students need to successfully cross the bridge to adulthood.

Ranch Schools

Ranch schools are uniquely American inventions. They combine rigorous outdoor activities in a healthy, natural setting with an intense academic regimen. Many focus on troubled teens, and the often remote natural settings, the small student-teacher ratios, and the challenging curriculum make these schools particularly effective therapeutic schools.

Ranch schools are an interesting contrast to the traditional idea of a boarding school. The sense of “roughing it” is appealing to many students and parents. These schools were originally opened with boys in mind, but many today are co-ed or girls only. The natural setting and Old West connotations of these schools make them both appealing and unforgettable. Click here to find out more about ranch schools.

Military Schools

Private military schools in America have a long tradition of maintaining excellent academic standards and graduating engaged and disciplined students who have a head start over their colleagues from other schools. These schools have tightly structured schedules based on military training techniques, which many students find beneficial in improving overall study skills.

Some of America’s oldest military schools are built upon British traditions, but many therapeutic schools are modeled after military schools. Students are not required to be thinking of pursuing military careers. The experience can turn a life around. No longer limited to boys, military schools for girls are also flourishing.

Catholic Schools

Of all the Christian schools in the United States, those run by the Catholic Church are by far the oldest and most numerous. Catholic schools are found in most major cities as well as in more rural or suburban settings. Each takes pride in the excellence of its educational standards. Graduates from Catholic schools often excel in their college studies, typically entering college a year ahead of the average first year student.

Catholic schools are usually operated under the guidance of a particular Catholic order, such as the Jesuits or the Dominicans, and many are members of the Catholic Boarding Schools Association, an group of Catholic lay people dedicated to enhancing the Catholic school experience.

Jewish Schools

The Jewish school tradition has deep European roots, and like most religious schools, they traditionally offered a safe haven for cultural and religious expression and education. In many ways, the kibbutz has much in common with U.S. boarding schools.

Many fine Jewish schools in America cater to Orthodox Jews because Reform Jews would often attend mainstream schools. But that trend has been changing in recent years, and more Jewish schools without an Orthodox focus are emerging.

Curriculum at most Jewish schools is focused on Jewish studies and the Hebrew language. These schools provide students a valuable spiritual grounding on which to build a successful life.

Elementary Boarding Schools

Boarding schools for children between the ages of 7 and 13 were once rare in the United States, limited to orphans and foster children awaiting adoption. Today, many parents want their young children to experience the benefits of boarding school.

Many elementary boarding schools in the US are located in suburban areas close to home and offer flexible residential programs: kids can go home every weekend and even some weeknights. Career-oriented parents or divorced families with two homes benefit from the convenience of location and scheduling, as well as the better quality of education found at private elementary schools. As public education in the United States has struggled to redefine itself, private elementary schools are becoming a popular and acceptable alternative.

Middle School Boarding Schools

In one primary American public education system, middle school refers to grades 6, 7, and 8, the 3 years before high school, when children between the ages of 11 and 13 begin to enter puberty. For many families, these crucial years are a turning point in the lives of their children. These are the years when children first encounter adult problems and need close guidance.

Middle boarding schools have been around longer than elementary boarding schools in the US. Traditionally, they were early therapeutic schools for troubled teens, often publicly operated. But today, most middle boarding schools are private and cater to many interests and curriculums.

For many families, the middle boarding school experience is attractive because it is a great stepping stone to a college-prep school experience.

Boarding High Schools

In the United States, high school refers to grades 9 through 12 (ages 14 through 17), also known as secondary education (as opposed to primary education—grades 1 through 8). These grades are the traditional curriculum of the boarding school tradition, and by a large margin, most boarding schools in the U.S. are high schools.

As human society evolves and we redefine our careers, our families, our lives, more and more families from all over the world are recognizing the tremendous benefits a U.S. boarding school education can bring their children. Excellent high schools in all 50 states offer countless opportunities and life-defining experiences. We can help locate the best boarding high school for your son or daughter today.

US Private Schools Rankings

Most of the best U.S. boarding schools are located in New England. Sometimes referred to as “The Elite Eight,” these prestigious schools have exacting admissions standards and high tuition.

But most parents and alumni would say it was worth it. Top boarding schools have a reputation for academic excellence and wealth of experience, sending more graduates to top Ivy League universities than other schools of their size and demographic. Graduates of the top 10 U.S. boarding schools also make lasting friendships that carry over into their adult lives.

Occasionally, a school from another region will crack the top rankings, but the long-established reputation of The Elite Eight will always make admission to one of those schools a cherished prize.

Boarding School for Troubled Boys

More commonly referred to as “at-risk boys,” teenagers suffering from behavioral disorders, psychological problems, or severe learning disabilities are a special case of special needs children. Many private schools cater to the needs of troubled boys and their families.

Boarding schools for troubled children offer a wide variety of educational approaches. Military schools, therapeutic schools, and Christian schools for troubled boys are just a few examples of the varied educational programs available.

Sometimes a change in environment works wonders at a troubled boys’ school. The structured schedules, the small classes, and the individualized attention all foster a sense of self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-discipline.

Boarding School for Troubled Girls

The modern world imposes more demands on our children at younger and younger ages. These at-risk children sometimes need special places to adjust. A boarding school catering to troubled girls can meet those needs with a variety therapeutic approaches.

Girls have the same incidences of behavioral disorders, psychological problems, and major learning disabilities as boys do. And like boys, troubled girls may have issues related to gender that are best addressed in a single-sex school.

Excellent boarding schools for troubled children can be found all over America. Dedicated teachers will mentor your daughter and help her master the life skills she will need to succeed in college and beyond.

College Prep Schools

The goal of the traditional high school was to provide the basic knowledge a person would need to support a family. Fifty years ago, a high school diploma was all the education most adults would ever need. But today, high school is only a preparatory stage for college. Indeed, high schools, both public and private, are ranked by how many of their graduates move on to gain a college education.

In the American education system, a college preparatory curriculum is far more demanding academically than the typical public high school curriculum. Students who attend college prep schools routinely score higher on the SAT test than their public school colleagues. A diploma from one of the top U.S. college prep schools can give a first-year college student as much as a two-semester head start in some basic subjects like English and math.

Many of the best college prep schools in America are private. And most private schools in America offer a demanding college prep curriculum.

Boot Camp Schools

Boot camp schools are unique education models inspired by military basic training, commonly called “boot camp” in popular culture. School is structured around the typical routine of boot camp: intense physical exercise, strict discipline, and quick learning techniques.

Many families like the idea of building character and self-discipling in their children by having them face the physical and mental challenges that these schools offer. Boot camp schools for teenagers and even for kids can sometimes help troubled teens find self-discipline or normal kids learn to conquer new challenges.

ADHD Boarding Schools

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can affect every aspect of a child’s development, from social interactions and relationships to educational performance and learning abilities. Children diagnosed with this developmental disorder require special  services best provided by private schools for children with special needs.

Many children with ADHD who struggle in conventional school settings excel at ADHD schools. All of the unique elements of the boarding school experience benefit these special needs students. They find their grades going up as they learn to master their disorder and really care about learning for the first time in their lives. The kinds of therapeutic educational opportunities at ADD and ADHD schools in America can mean the difference between straight A’s and flat F’s.

International Schools

An international school uses a specific international curriculum, usually the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), which differs in many ways from a typical American college prep curriculum. International schools in America are excellent places for intense English language instruction.

These schools are especially popular with families from China, Japan, Thailand, and Korea. They offer the American school experience but with a more familiar course of studies that may be more applicable at an international university.

Wilderness Schools

America is famous for its beautiful wilderness landscapes and frontier culture. The same spirit that inspired ranch schools inspired wilderness schools. Similar to the popular survival schools that cater to adults, these schools are another therapeutic educational approach.

Many of these schools are designed to help troubled teens. The isolated surroundings, close companionship, and a challenging and innovative educational curriculum make them an attractive alternative for many families with troubled boys or troubled girls. Click here to learn more about Wilderness Schools.

Language Immersion Schools

Today, English is the undisputed global language of business. But the world is multilingual, and fluency in more than one language is a powerful advantage for a successful life in the 21st century. Studies have shown that the best way to learn a second language (if you didn’t do so as a small child) is to totally immerse yourself in the language, to live and work where the language is spoken daily.

Of course, not everyone can afford to go live in a foreign country to learn a new language.  Fortunately, you can find an excellent foreign language immersion school right here in the United States: Chinese, Spanish, French, Russian, German.

For international students, almost any American boarding school is also an English language immersion school.

Alternative Boarding Schools

In many ways, a boarding school is an alternative school because it defies the normal modern definition of a school as a place that students come to and leave every day. The residential culture of alternative schools provides many advantages that traditional schools cannot: small classes, close mentor relationships, diverse curriculums, emphasis on community building and decision making skills.

Alternative schools include therapeutic schools, ranch and boot camp schools, military schools, and international schools. Many alternative schools, including the top schools in the country, expect more parental involvement. Gone are the days when parents could drop off their kids at school in August and pick them up again in December. Today, education is too valuable an investment to neglect.

Behavior Schools

Behavior schools are therapeutic schools that focus on troubled and at-risk teens who have serious behavior problems, especially drug and alcohol abuse. These schools are usually single-sex schools that combine behavior modification techniques and academic studies in a structured residential environment.

Behavior schools are also geared toward children with diagnosed disorders such as ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). These children have special educational needs that only trained educators can provide in a residential setting.

Students at behavior schools receive tutoring sessions to help with academic problems, individual therapy, and a new sense of responsibility and self-awareness.