At boarding schools, pupils thrive. As many graduates would attest, these 24-hour residential communities provide a rich culture of learning, arts, athletics, friendship and intellectual discourse. Supervised, structured and free from the distractions of television and iPads, they focus on what’s more enriching for young minds and souls.
Research supports this. A study conducted by The Association of Boarding Schools found that 78% of boarders report being around motivated peers, compared to just 49% of public school students. Nine out of 10 report having great, high quality teachers, while 70% of boarders said that boarding school helped them develop self-discipline, maturity, independence and critical thinking skills. Naturally, pupils are set to flourish in university and beyond — many are more likely to earn an advanced degree too.
In the US, there is another perk: a vast number of boarding schools that cater to individual needs. From specialising in learning differences to focusing on hands-on experiences, here’s a selection of institutions that do it best:
Located in Litchfield, Connecticut, a fine example of a late 18th century New England town and one of the most beautiful residential communities in America, the Forman School is the nation’s first and best coed college preparatory school for students with learning differences. Home to 236 unique learners, Forman provides young talent diagnosed with learning differences — such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and executive function deficits — a holistic education that ensures 100% of them get into a four-year college. The support of a professional Cognition and Learning team and a highly personal College Counselling Department allows Forman to offer a college preparatory curriculum on par with that of any other independent boarding and day school.
Forman teachers are experts. Here, 68 faculty members and staff are well-trained and equipped with the right skills and tools to help pupils explore academic, artistic, athletic, and social opportunities. The school regularly seeks out advanced research, engages external experts to lead professional development workshops and incorporates proven methods in every aspect of school life. The result? Graduates with identities that outshine their diagnoses. Head of School Adam K. Man sums it up best, “Forman holds the bar high for students with learning differences, and we give them all the support they need to climb over it.”
To begin, there are two paths a student can take: the classic full-time programme or the four-week summer programme, both of which are in person. The former combines classic college prep — English, math, history, science, world languages, athletics, and the arts — with individualised learning support and honours classes at a level that students can place into at any time during the school year. The Forman Summer Programme is a coed boarding and day camp in July that is open to any students entering grades seven to 11. Participants will be able to sample the Forman experience, where students learn independence, self-advocacy, and academic strategies that they can apply in the classroom and beyond. Click here to find out how else Forman nurtures the brightest minds.
Established in 1909, Hargrave Military Academy is an exceptional private military boarding school that stays true to its traditions to graduate young men as contributing members of society. Located in Chatham, Virginia, Hargrave’s Christian values enable spiritual development through individual prayer opportunities, voluntary participation in Bible study, dedicated devotion time and access to spiritually-based extracurricular activities. These values go hand-in-hand with the signature Hargrave military programme which instills organisation, structure, routine, discipline and leadership.
The Hargrave academic approach does not just provide young cadets with a high-school diploma, but also the tools that will allow them to be successful in life. The Centre for Integrated Studies, for pupils in grades seven through nine, is structured around a philosophy that the younger student is best served by an integrated approach to development. Those in grades 10 through 12 in the Upper School undergo individualised preparation for college based on their abilities, interests and needs.
Students seeking extra prep for college can opt for the academy’s post-graduate or first college year experience. These students fall into three broad categories: basketball players looking for a D1 or D2 scholarship, students applying for the United States Military Academy (West Point) or United States Naval Academy (Annapolis), and pure academic post-graduates seeking a period of discipline, structure, and order, prior to attending a four-year university.
Located in Putney, Vermont – one of the most progressive schools in the US – the Putney School is a co-educational boarding and day school for grades nine through 12. For over 75 years, the school has focused on promoting the benefits of project-based learning, integrated curricula and hands-on education through its offerings.
The Putney academic arts programme encompasses a wide range of disciplines in the visual and performing arts, one of the central Putney experiences. They get to dive into their media in greater depth during Project Week, a period of nine to 10 days at the end of each term where students get to engage and explore a topic meaningful to them.
Here, development stems from more than just academics and test results –– compelling experiences come first. Outside the classroom, students spend their time operating the school’s dairy farm, participating in physical work programmes, getting elected to the governing board, sitting in as members of the admission committee and more. These experiences foster outstanding outcomes with a majority of Putney students obtaining top placements at some of the best colleges and universities in the world.
Situated on the shoulder of Storm King Mountain, overlooking the Hudson River, the Storm King School (SKS) is proud to rank among the top boarding schools in New York — catering to students in grades eight through 12. Here, students are given the opportunity to design their own academic curriculum and personal programmes. While personal, the SKS experience is also future-proof as learners acquire the necessary knowledge to become 21st century leaders.
Established in 1867, SKS is home to 195 students who represent 25 nationalities, striving for excellence on its 55-acre campus. Faculty members prioritise offering guidance to each and every student with their eye on a quality college or university experience. This guidance begins in freshman and sophomore years with preparation for the PSAT exam and continues until spring of senior year. SKS regularly hosts college admissions representatives on campus grounds, schedules visits to local college campuses and attends a variety of college fairs during fall.
Core subjects include mathematics, English, history and social sciences, science and world languages. To go alongside these are several signature programmes such as the Q-term short course, a capstone programme, global travel opportunities for international exposure. Service learning plays a key role in academic development at SKS as well with every student pledging to complete at least 20 hours of community service a year.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International