The famed American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his campus newspaper in 1947 that, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

These lines were penned in the days when American students still attended segregated schools and the idea of equal opportunities and rounded education for all was still just a dream. Fast forward almost 70 years and today’s students are fortunate that many schools now offer the type of education that King so deeply dreamed of; designed to tap potential, open doors of opportunity and ensure educational and personal fulfilment.

Boarding schools are among the most successful institutions for achieving such a feat, as their smaller, caring and inclusive environments not only recognize and nurture the gifts and talents of each member of the school community, but also provide world class facilities and education in beautiful residential settings.

As well as this, boarding schools tend to hold more control over their curriculum and thus the education they offer is often far more student-centred, directly targeting college preparation through the utilization of well recognized Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.

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In fact most boarding schools are primarily designed to prepare students for college entrance, and words such as “college preparatory” will often feature somewhere in the title or headline advertising for the school.

Not only are the AP or IB courses ideal preparation for continued study at a higher education facility, but leading universities around the world recognize these rigorous curriculums and in some instances students can earn college credit for the high school courses they pursue.

The other difference between a boarding school and traditional day school is the emphasis on a balance of intellectual, physical, social and emotional development. Boarding schools recognize that learning extends well beyond the walls of the classroom, and they therefore provide a healthy mix of sports and extracurricular activities, helping forge student-teacher relationships, encourage an emphasis on community and global outlook, and enable students to develop unique talents and expression.

Thanks to the high quality of boarding schools in the U.S., these are the schools that tend to attract the top international applicants, allowing students to rub shoulders with other cultures and traditions in their formative years. 

Read on to learn more about five U.S. boarding schools offering pathways to top international universities… 


For more than a century, St. Timothy’s boarding and day school has been offering young women a chance to better themselves and the world around them. The School’s motto “truth without fear” was first established by sisters Sally and Polly Carter in 1832, to help girls achieve their potential and lead lives of meaning, purpose and consequence.

Image courtesy of St. Timothy’s School

Today this goal is facilitated via the prestigious pre-university International Baccalaureate Diploma Program and Middle Years Program for students in Grade 9 through 12. The preparatory program boasts a high success rate with plenty of breadth and depth to prepare students for college.

The comprehensive academic program is complemented by a beautiful, well-resourced 145-acre campus located in Stevenson, Maryland, and the supportive community atmosphere of the School. Approximately 30% of population are day students, and the remaining are boarders who live in a close-knit community where the connection amongst students and staff goes well beyond the classroom. It is also a genuinely international institution, with one third of the population deriving from outside the U.S., encouraging students to develop an appreciation of the global community.

While academics are highly valued at St Timothy’s, they are considered just one part of student life, so students also heavily engage in artistic, athletic and moral pursuits.


Vermont Academy is a small, supportive secondary co-educational and college preparatory school for Grades 9 through 12. Located in Saxtons River on a 515-acre campus, the School offers AP, honors and advanced-level classes that have produced successful academic graduates who are prepared to engage in a diverse global community.

Image courtesy of Vermont Academy

Part of the Academy’s success in developing confident, active learners and respectful citizens is thanks to its small, friendly community of just 240 students, as well as the personal attention afforded to each student. The Academy has a student-teacher ratio of just 5:1 and utilizes a My Action Plan for Success (MAPS) Program in which students meet with advisors and are encouraged to think about their futures and set realistic goals.

The Academy also encourages learning beyond the four walls of the classroom, where students are urged to grow through participation in activities beyond their comfort zone through trying new sports, artistic pursuits, theater, hiking, studying abroad or student government.


Cheshire Academy is a boarding school for Grades 9-12 and Postgraduate. While it is a college preparatory school with the internationally recognised IB program, Cheshire prides itself on being student-centered and allowing students to “come just as you are”. Class sizes are deliberately small and diversity is encouraged, breaking down the walls of traditional stereotypes. On top of this, students are encouraged to discover individual talents, develop confidence and critical skills, and become internationally-minded.

Image courtesy of Cheshire Academy

All programs are designed to be flexible so academic courses can be balanced with athletics or fine arts. Students can choose from among 20 rigorous advanced IB programs, college-level seminars, AP courses, standard-level courses, an Art Major program or even ELL classes (designed for English Language Learners), and thus stretch and expand their learning as they wish. The School also boasts an array of activities from fencing to volleyball and ropes courses. A one-on-one student Roxbury Academic Support Program is another unique Cheshire feature.


The White Mountain School is a charming coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day school for students Grades 9 through 12 and Postgraduate. Set in beautiful surrounds, the School is well-renowned for its dedicated teachers, strong community and belief in the importance of individual passions.

Image courtesy of The White Mountain School

Students are encouraged to excel in academic, outdoor education, student-directed or sustainability studies. There are more than 50 academic courses from introductory to Advanced Placement level or students can propose a major individual program of their own. Thanks to the small size of the School with only 125 students, teachers are able to provide individual mentorship both within and outside the classroom.


The Linsly School is a private, independent day and boarding school for students Grade 5 through 12, and located in Wheeling. Middle school (Grade 5-8) focuses on the mastery of fundamental concepts while the upper school (Grade 9-12) is designed to prepare students for higher education in all major academic disciplines.

Linsly offers a college preparatory curriculum that has a 100 percent success rate in college placement. This is thanks to a focus on the bond between teachers and students, small class sizes – so everyone is known by name – and an understanding that education takes place beyond the classroom.  Students are encouraged to develop interests in athletics and extracurricular activities and to live out important principles such as hard work, respect, honor, honesty and self-discipline.

Feature image courtesy of St. Timothy’s School

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