Best Junior Boarding Schools
When researching schools, whether private or public schools, boarding or day schools, you’ll quickly notice a theme as they describe their program. Some examples:
- Project based learning
- Multiple learning styles
- Character development
- Safe and nurturing environment
Many public schools and charter schools, and virtually all private schools will extend this with:
- Athletic programs
- Field trips
- Superior arts program
- Foreign language classes
- Small class sizes
- Individual attention
Boarding schools will go further and include items such as:
- Benefits of boarding
- Large acreage
- Family environment
- Weekend activities
- Diverse community
- Improved independence
If all these schools say basically the same thing, how can a website providing Junior Boarding School information, rank which schools are the best? Is it the one with the highest tuition? The highest endowment? The most teachers? The most students? The newest and largest buildings? Review ranking on social media? The most land? The short answer is: there is no right way to rank boarding schools. No single school, or even set of schools is perfect for all children. You have to go beyond the commonalities of the schools, and look at the overall school program and culture, to decide which school will be best for your child.
Since we focus on junior boarding schools, we will assume you have already decided a boarding school, rather than a private day school or public school, is best for your child. Now you have to figure out how to differentiate the schools. So how to decide?
First, unless the websites or other marketing material go into great depth, you can safely ignore the items listed above. All boarding schools will have small classes. Large acreage doesn’t much matter when students never leave the 10 or 15 acres on which the buildings reside. All schools do some project based learning, address different learning styles, and hope to provide a nurturing environment. Family environment means something different at each school. The list goes on.
Second, take social media reviews and ratings with a grain of salt unless an individual review touches on something you care deeply about within the school program. You may have noticed we don’t provide reviews and ratings on this site, and that is intentional. Negative reviews are largely left by a handful of students or parents for whom the school was not the best fit. That does not mean it wouldn’t be the best fit for your child. Each and every school tries their best to educate and develop the whole child in a safe environment.
Third, consider your child and the culture in which they would most fit. Unfortunately, this is no easy task, but speaking with admissions representatives and visiting the campus should help you decide which school is best for your unique child. Here are some things to consider when looking for the best school for your child:
- Does your child enjoy the outdoors? Focus on schools with strong hiking and camping programs.
- Does your child enjoy animals? Focus on schools with farms or horseback riding. Many small schools and therapeutic schools have farm programs.
- Does your child enjoy competitive sports? Focus on larger, traditional schools.
- Do you wish for your child to go to an elite college-prep school for their high school years? Any school will be suitable, so long as your child applies him or herself.
- Do you desire a campus that is almost college-like in its grounds and buildings? You will probably want to focus your investigation on traditional schools. Smaller schools, special needs schools, and therapeutic schools will often have a smaller, more homey campus.
- Is your child extroverted? Focus on traditional schools in which leadership development has a strong foundation and many teachers are also extroverted.
- Is your child introverted? Focus on smaller schools with where your child won’t get lost in the crowd and teachers can better meet your child’s needs.
- Does your child have special needs? Focus on special needs schools, such as Oakland School or Eagle Hill School, but also consider small schools and large traditional schools which may also be able to support your student.
- Is your child independent? Larger, traditional schools will often let their students flourish or fail on their own.
- Does your child work well with adults? Consider a smaller school in which all teacher and staff get to know all students at a deeper level than is typical of larger schools.
- Does your child need a great deal of structure? Schools of all types provide structure, but military schools may be your best bet.
- Does your child exhibit behavioral issues? Consider therapeutic schools, but also investigate other schools which might be able to help.
Based on the above, you should be able to narrow your list of schools down to just a few. With just a little more research – talking to admissions and visiting the school – you should be able to find the best junior boarding school for your child.