US boarding schools
Source: St. Margaret’s School

Parents, if you’re looking for a school that lays the right foundation for your child to have a seamless transition to university and beyond, boarding schools in the US are the answer. 

In recent years, boarding schools have been growing in popularity, especially in the US, with over 300 boarding schools. This increase is due to these schools’ stimulating and holistic environment, which is essential to development. According to The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), such supportive, agile and innovative education has resulted in 87% of boarding students being well prepared for college academically and 78% feeling socially prepared for university life. 

These are good outcomes — made even better if a boarding school has a feature unique to them. A distinctive location, faculty, and curriculum can lend an edge to students, as these schools below show: 

St. Margaret’s School

US boarding schools

St. Margaret’s is a place where generations of young women grow together academically, emotionally, and physically into what the school calls its Sisterhood. Source: St. Margaret’s School

Set on the picturesque banks of the Rappahannock River in eastern Virginia, St. Margaret’s School is an all-girls boarding school for grades 8-12 and postgraduate. As an Episcopal School, the St. Margaret’s community is grounded in faith and friendship, with girls attending worship services that cultivate a warm and welcoming community.

Established in 1921, St. Margaret’s is a place where generations of young women have grown together academically, emotionally and physically into what the school calls its Sisterhood. Here, girls of all ages are inspired and empowered through the rigorous yet experiential learning opportunities of a riverfront campus.

What truly sets St. Margaret’s apart is how it uses its vast river frontage in its unique STREAM programme — a combination of a STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, Math) college-prep curriculum with the River. The programme enables girls to honour the school’s 100-year-old heritage, while learning skillsets necessary for the 21st century. This includes chemistry students hopping aboard a pontoon boat to test the river water on both sides of the bridge for dissolved oxygen and total phosphorus; learning how to measure various electrical power levels, including 110V AC electrical power, 9V, and 1.5V DC battery power; and creating “nature instruments” by thinking like those who lived in the river area hundreds of years ago.

The boarding experience at St. Margaret’s is just as unrivalled. With a tight-knit yet diverse student body that includes girls of many faiths, boarders will find a second home during their critical years at boarding. They live together, learn together, and grow in grace as they learn to appreciate and embrace differences as well as shared experiences. On graduation day, girls receive their diploma with the satisfaction of having pursued their full potential at St. Margaret’s.

Hyde School

US boarding schools

Hyde School has a character-cased programme which encourages students to work on their soft skills. Source: Hyde School/Facebook

Located in the heart of mid-coast Maine is Hyde School, a co-educational and small boarding school with big campus opportunities. Here, the student community is diverse with international students hailing from 13 countries and 19 US states. International students are offered an immersive American experience – from having an American roommate to taking college prep courses focussed on improving their English proficiency. 

Curriculum here is unique. The believes that character, attitude and effort are factors that contribute to academic excellence and personal fulfilment. Hence, their character-based programming is incorporated in their regular curriculum spurring students to work on their leadership skills, public speaking confidence, and building meaningful relationships. 

At Hyde School. learning continues beyond the four walls of a classroom. The school has a deep appreciation of the great outdoors and believes that students can greatly benefit from interacting and immersing themselves in nature. Facilities such as the Lennox Outdoor Leadership Centre hosts various activities year-round including wellness retreats and winter activities such as alpine skiing and winter camping. 

Winter at Hyde School is filled with skiing and snowboarding. As the school is a good early morning drive away from Sugarloaf mountain, it offers day trips every Sunday throughout the winter trimester and the occasional overnight at The Black Preserve to get two days in a row on the mountain. Students, whatever their experience, always have a great time.

Idyllwild Arts

US boarding schools

Idyllwild Arts is the US’s premier and internationally-acclaimed residential arts high school. Source: Idyllwild Arts

Nestled on 205 acres of pristine pine forest located in the renowned arts village of Idyllwild in Southern California’s San Jacinto Mountains, Idyllwild Arts is home to children, pre-teens and teenagers who come to hone their talent and develop new skills. Here, almost 300 students from over 30 countries pursue artistic excellence.

Diverse yet intimate, multicultural yet deliberately secluded, ambitious yet supportive — these factors let the arts become the greatest teacher of humanity, to the boundless advantage of Idyllwild Arts students.

“Each year, hundreds of summer campers and academy students travel 5,200 feet into the mountains to Idyllwild, California,” shares Pamela Jordan, President and Head of School. “Once here, they walk onto a picturesque campus with dorms, charming classrooms, practice rooms and studios all surrounded by beautiful wooded terrain.”

The academy is a creative sanctuary for those who want to blaze their own trail, map their own path, and be surrounded by the majestic and untamed. Just two hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, Southern California’s only boarding arts high school offers a variety of majors — Music, Visual Arts, Creative Writing, Fashion Design, Theatre, Dance, Film and Digital Media — along with college-prep academics.

Classes are small and seminar-style, providing the ideal setting for teachers to impart their knowledge and guide students to create the world anew. They teach individuality and spur students to pursue their private dreams for the public good. 

West Catholic High School

US boarding schools

West Catholic High School’s Class of 2022 had 95% of its graduates attend college. Source: West Catholic High School/Facebook

Named as one of the top Catholic schools in the country by the Cardinal Newman Society and recognised as one of “America’s Most Challenging Schools” in consecutive years by The Washington Post, West Catholic High School (WCHS) offers an education defined bya rigorous curriculum that’s as challenging as it’s fulfilling. 

Located on a sprawling 42-acre campus in the northwest corner of Grand Rapids, Michigan, this college preparatory school promises academic excellence. The school’s track record confirms this — more than 60% of students leave high school with college credits. Students earn college credits by taking some of the 19 Advanced Placement courses or the four on-campus courses offered for college credit. The Class of 2022 had 95% of its graduates attend college.

Here, international students flourish academically. Recent international graduates have gone on to attend top universities in the US, Europe and Asia. These include Michigan State, New York University, University of Connecticut, University of Michigan and University of Washington. 

*Some of the schools featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International