6 boarding schools that provide excellent pathways to leading universities

Did you know boarding schools are an excellent way to prep children for higher education? In fact, a study has shown that 87 percent of students who went to boarding school were more prepared for college that their private day school and public school counterparts.

Contrary to popular belief, boarding schools are not the dark and somber institutions people have often been led to believe. “Walk into any boarding school today and you’ll find a vibrant, highly energized student body, housed in first-rate surroundings and engaged in more activities [sic] than you can imagine,” says Anne-Marie Kee, Executive Director of Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS).

But this isn’t all that worries parents when boarding school comes into question. Some remain increasingly concerned about how the boarding aspect, where the child is required to spend prolonged periods of time away from the family environment, might come to affect their relationship. While many believe that boarders wind up much more distant from their parents, nothing could be further from the truth…

According to the Australian Financial Review, a 2014 study shows that overall, boarders report far better relations with their parents than their fellow day school students. The distance apart made kids miss, and therefore appreciate their families to a much greater level. As with everything, there are various pros and cons that come attached to the boarding education, but the benefits that your child will reap will be far-reaching and invaluable.

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Aside from an education, the boarding school experience helps build character. Here, students develop desirable skills like how to take the initiative, collaborate, be independent and resilient. “Never before has there been a stronger link between the skills needed in the 21st Century and the boarding experience,” explains Anne-Marie.

“…Boarding school can actually serve as an invaluable social and emotional bridge, not just to university, but to a life of emotional independence,” she adds.

The skills boarding students acquire also serve them well within the working world, as it now takes much more than a degree to impress recruiting employers. As Bloomberg reports, communication and leadership skills are among those most sought-after by managers looking to invest a prospective, graduate hire.

One of the most important things is to choose a school that can cater to your child’s individual needs. Ridley College, for example, a reputed co-ed boarding school set just an hour’s drive from Toronto and 15 minutes to Niagara Falls, cultivates a student-centered learning environment that allows kids to explore new ideas, debate eternal questions, and solve relevant, real-world problems.

“At Ridley, students are surrounded by peers who share their sense of purpose, who believe in the value of hard work and who are building the courage to pursue their dreams. Our students are supported by a caring, committed, and world-class faculty that is focused on cultivating the full potential in each student,” explains Ed Kidd, Headmaster of Ridley College.

Intrigued to know more? Well, here are 6 world-class boarding schools that provide excellent pathways to leading universities…


Ridley College is an acclaimed co-educational boarding and day school with over 665 students from 44 diverse countries. It is the only International Baccalaureate (IB) Continuum boarding school in Canada and just one of three in North America ­­– offering IB for students ranging from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12.

With a focus on personal development based on the principles of positive psychology, a legacy of intellectual rigour, and the ideal balance between academics, athletics, and the arts, Ridley equips students with the skills, habits, and experiences they need to build flourishing lives and succeed in any future they aspire to.

Ridley’s history and philosophies are founded upon a traditional British boarding house system, with all day students and boarding students belonging to one of ten boarding houses.

Beyond its 150 course offerings and elite sports teams, students can choose from 14 interscholastic sports and over 75 student clubs and organizations, such as film club, Model United Nations, and the VEX Robotics.


This college preparatory boarding and day school welcomes boys Grades 7 through 12, but also accommodates a community of post-graduate students.

Classes are enriched with project-based learning activities that allow students to engage with the real-world. They’ll work in teams to find meaningful solutions, stretch their minds with vigorous discussion, and explore far beyond the textbook with hands-on experiments.

Students also get the chance to dabble in business and economics with coursers in Public Speaking, Business of Baseball, and Economics in our Times. For those with a passion for sports, the school offers plenty of choice depending on the season. But if you preference lies in the arts, the academy holds classes in music, theater, and the visual arts, with the opportunity for students to continue to advanced-level classes.


Founded in 1891, this independent boarding school educates more than 635 students from around the globe between Grades 9 and 12. With an average class size of 11, each student can actively interact, share opinions and learn from their teachers.

With more than 200 courses fed through seven departments, the school offers an academic curriculum that is said to have breadth and depth most students would not experience until college.

If you find yourself behind in class there’s no need to worry; the school offers ample academic support in the form of time management, study skills, reading comprehension and writing.

Hotchkiss also offers state-of-the-art facilities, much like The Hotchkiss Observatory, as well as performing arts and technology-learning courses in which students can participate.


This independent day and boarding school for girls aged 3 to 18 is located in Bristol’s Westbury-on-Trym. The institution not only aims to give students a great education and a sense of community, but also encourages girls to become curious, confident and enthusiastic learners. And with tight-knit, intimate class sizes, every young woman has the chance to be known on a unique and personal level.

Girls are given a broad and innovative academic program with a strong emphasis on developing enquiring minds, instilling a good work ethic and striving for excellence. The curriculum extends to a wide variety of activities, societies, sporting fixtures and trips that become integral to shaping the students of Badminton.

Activities include visits to art exhibitions in London, music concerts, and political conferences, as well as taking part in science and engineering research.


At Dulwich College, young people aren’t just another number amid a sea of students. The academy aims to ensure that every boy, whether at the day or boarding school, becomes a unique individual that is able to develop his own special talents and abilities to their full potential. Through an academically challenging curriculum, students are able to grow before deciding where their passions and interests lie.

On top of this, the school provides music lessons through workshops and ensembles, drama production classes, and intellectual stimulation with activities like philosophy, chess, debating and educational trips.

Located in South London, the school is on the main college campus and has excellent teaching facilities, from playing fields to a Sports Centre that includes a 20-meter swimming pool.


With 85 percent of students achieving their first-choice place in a wide spectrum of courses and universities, you’ll be in good hands at Ellesmere College. The school is committed to developing each individual, recognizing that every student learns differently and that every learning style is a gift.

Starting at the Lower School (Year 3 to 8), staff focus on helping students be positive, independent, active and enquiring individuals, while Year 9 students, as Senior School members, begin a broad range of subjects that gradually build towards the attainment of GCSEs.

The academy takes education seriously but it also recognises the importance of arts, music, drama and sport, and how they help nurture soft skills within students.

Through team sports, the Combined Cadet Force, and public speaking initiatives, Ellesmere students develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills

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

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