US boarding schools
The Emma experience fosters a love for learning; the habits of an intellectual life; as well as the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape the world. Source: Emma Willard School

A good education prepares pupils for far more than just academic success. While the skills to succeed in college or university are important, high school graduates face plenty of non-academic challenges in their next phase of life, further accentuating the importance of life skills. Boarding schools are known for stretching students’ limits and equipping them with a variety of skills that would help them thrive in university and beyond.

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.

Boarding schools in the US are known for providing students with an enriching environment to flourish. They offer a platform for collaboration, and for students to engage in athletics, the arts, and anything else that piques their interests. Living and learning alongside peers from a variety of cultures is another key perk. This exposure nurtures an appreciation and respect for different perspectives. 

Ultimately, they gear students to meet the demands of the 21st century. In the US, many schools are renowned for doing just that. However, when it comes to preparing students for life, these four stand out in their own unique ways:

The Frederick Gunn School

A Frederick Gunn School student or graduate is always learning. After building their foundation at this coeducational preparatory boarding and day school in Washington, Connecticut — surrounded by natural beauty —  students are able to think for themselves, to express their beliefs confidently and persuasively, and to stand up both for themselves and others. They evolve into active citizens, changing the world in the same entrepreneurial way that Frederick Gunn — abolitionist, educator, and outdoorsman — changed the world more than 170 years ago.

Several programmes make this possible. The Innovation Track is a multi-year learning journey that allows students to explore the sciences, engineering, technology and entrepreneurship as a path toward pursuing these passions in college and beyond. When the new Centre for Citizenship and Just Democracy opens in September 2023, students will have a space modelled on state-of-the-art co-working spaces in urban centres, such as Workbar in Boston and NeuHouse in New York. This already robust and active program will continue to evolve as our world is evolving and nurture students to think and understand the world more broadly and with a creative and entrepreneurial mindset.

The Citizenship Curriculum does more than just ensure freshmen adjust seamlessly to school and boarding life — students also have conversations about making healthy choices, responsible behaviour, and learn executive functioning skills that help them engage more intentionally with their learning. This 4 year program culminates during the summer between Junior and Senior year when students take part in the Civic Changemakers Project where they create, identify and bring to life a policy through action in the community.

Beyond its pristine campus located in a historic small town, students learn to take risks, solve problems, collaborate and navigate life in a world that challenges them through the Gunn Outdoors Programme. Throughout this program students have the opportunity to engage with the outdoors, develop leadership skills, and gain independence. The Frederick Gunn School believes that education should not be bound by the walls of the classroom and knows that experiencing the outdoors contributes to the development of character.

As Frederick Gunn once said, “Think boldly, fearlessly; never fear where unfettered thought will lead you.” At The Frederick Gunn School, students live this everyday ensuring that they are a “force for good”.

Emma Willard School

Few schools produce resilient young women the way Emma Willard School does. Located atop Mount Ida in Troy, New York, its thriving community –– between the grades of nine and 12 –– gain the academic and non-academic skills that lead to stellar matriculations and more.

US boarding schools

Source: Emma Willard School

Emma fosters a love for learning in its students, as well as character, moral strength, and leadership qualities that help them serve and shape the world. The school has over 200 years of experience in ensuring these outcomes.

It’s no wonder girls have travelled from 38 countries and 21 US states to enjoy its unique offerings. In joining them, learners open their minds to over 140 courses and countless opportunities to pursue their aspirations. Thanks to Emma’s personalised study programmes –– Practicum and Signature –– anything is possible. The school provides a safe and harmonious boarding and learning experience that students will benefit from.

An emphasis on student wellbeing guarantees this. Emma’s READY Centre helps students take on the world’s rigours with confidence through holistic and proactive educational programming. The READY Programme is a four-year curriculum that instills purpose. Including a year-long READY seminar series that provides girls with weekly sessions tailored to their grade level.

The program gives students the know-how to spark global change. For example, with READY for Impact, students explore their identities while realising their values and navigating what it means to make an impact in communities of all sizes.

Healthy Living & Life Skills sessions give girls a better understanding of how their bodies and brains develop through adolescence. They learn how to take good care of themselves, cope with change and protect their mental and physical health. At Emma, girls are provided with opportunities to lead. As Emma Wellness Advocates — or “Wellies” — they serve the community by empowering them to live a healthy life. Collectively, the Emma experience is one that leads to successful academic and professional careers and an overall civic life. To get a glimpse of these transformations, learn more here.

Concord Academy

Scholars with creative and wide-ranging aspirations in mind will settle in nicely at Concord Academy –– an independent, co-educational boarding and day school in Concord, Massachusetts. A total of 400 students in grades nine through 12 are already here and enjoying a wide as you can dream curriculum.

US boarding schools

At Concord Academy, every student has the freedom to follow their passions through semester-based electives –– whether it entails learning topics in engineering such as computer-aided design and manufacturing or directing a theater production. Source: Concord Academy.

Over 200 academic courses are available to satisfy all kinds of curiosity. For schools of this size, a curriculum this broad is a rarity. Here, each student is paired with an advisor –– a faculty member or administrator who is an equal parts mentor and advocate to help them unlock their potential. To parents, they serve as vital links between home and school.

At Concord Academy, intellectual possibilities are endless. Students pursue their passions through semester-based electives –– whether it be learning topics in engineering such as computer-aided design and manufacturing or directing a theater mainstage production.  No two educational pursuits are the same at Concord Academy. The unique courses foster the development of independent thinkers who are able to spark passionate debate and make effective decisions in university and beyond.

Learning extends beyond the walls of traditional classrooms at Concord Academy. Students often spend their time nurturing their creative and extracurricular talents, as well. While participating in a rigorous academic programme, many are still incredibly active in the arts, athletics, and various clubs or organisations. In fact, students at Concord Academy are involved in over 70 student-led clubs and 13 affinity groups. Afternoons are often spent on interscholastic athletics, theatre productions, music group rehearsals, and intramural sports.

Concord Academy’s location makes the perfect setting for further self-discovery. Concord, Massachusetts is a safe and small New England town that is a tourist destination and historic treasure. Its downtown area, which is just a walk away from Concord Academy’s campus, is filled with plenty of cuisines and retail outlets for students to enjoy during the weekend. The beautiful campus is also just 30 minutes away from the bustling city of Boston, where countless world-class colleges and universities are based. Our students and graduates believe the Concord Academy education is transformative and has allowed them to pursue successful careers. Together, they form a community that makes a difference in the world. Find your place at Concord Academy.

New Hampton School

New Hampton School is a co-educational, college-preparatory institution set on 340 stunning acres in the village of New Hampton, in the foothills of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It is home to 12 residential houses, state-of-the-art classrooms and science laboratories, three computer labs, a research centre, a newly renovated library, studios for every art, a recently updated athletics complex, and an endless mountain area for outdoor exploration — but what truly sets it apart is its community.

US boarding schools

The signature New Hampton School approach to education is an extension of the school’s mission and aims. Source: New Hampton School

The New Hampton School community is inclusive, open, and happy. Opportunities and support are numerous — their 325-strong students are free to be themselves and try new things. They can join interscholastic teams such as alpine skiing, baseball, cross country, equestrian, field hockey, and more. Creative folk can enrol in visual, digital, and performing arts courses, including comedic improv, environmental art, animation, graphic design, and contemporary performance– just to name a few.

The signature New Hampton School approach to education is an extension of the school’s mission and aims. Here, students can build their class schedules around their interests. The fully-customisable Foundations of Learning curriculum shapes dynamic students by providing the necessary rigour and support for each student with offerings in the International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, and Academic Support.

When you combine an environment that inspires wellness with a personalised curriculum and a supportive faculty –– the result is excellent student outcomes. New Hampton’s senior class of over 100 enjoy an impressive success rate, matriculating to more than 85 different colleges and universities. To join a school that offers experiential education, student-led groups and clubs; promotes nobility with service learning; and encourages diversity, equality and inclusion with a vibrant community, learn more about New Hampton School now.

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