Nowadays, it’s not enough to finish school with just good grades – with the number of students applying to universities increasing year by year, top institutions are looking for students who are not only academically excellent, but possess valuable life skills and experiences that will ensure success in their studies and beyond.

Boarding schools are known to provide their students with the edge they need to outshine their peers. According to a survey conducted by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) of current and former boarding school students, 78 percent said that going to boarding school helped prepare them for the rigors of tertiary-level academia.

In order to give their children that ever-crucial head start, many parents are opting for an elite boarding education. Here are six key elements of boarding school study that make for confident, well-rounded graduates:

1. Independence

Living away from home, students quickly learn to become self-reliant. They are required to carry out domestic chores and are solely responsible for completing school assignments. Students also learn to become experts at managing their time, money, and resources. In picking up these useful life skills, students mature and grow into independent and successful individuals prepared for college and later life.

Image courtesy of The Knox School.

2. Teamwork

Even as they learn to be responsible for themselves, students at boarding schools also learn to work and live together with others. Boarding schools give students the opportunity to form close, lifelong friendships with their peers, many of whom are likely from various backgrounds and cultures. Exposure to a diverse range of people helps them gain a tolerant, global mindset that will greatly benefit them in the future. Students will also learn the value of compromise and collaboration.

3. Character-building

Most boarding schools take pride in producing accomplished, disciplined individuals. Not only do they merit highly in terms of academic or co-curricular achievement, but also in terms of character and poise. Boarding School staff do their best to instill their students with moral values like integrity, honesty, respect, and hard work, so by the time they graduate, they leave as mature, productive individuals who go on to forge great things.

4. Focus on studies

At boarding schools, students will not have unlimited access to television and video games that could distract them from School projects. The use of computers and internet will also be limited, and study hall sessions are normally incorporated into students’ daily schedules. This way, students are given structure and taught to the value of discipline. Many boarding schools also offer college counselors; these people will have plenty of experience in helping applicants identify the right schools and advising them on how to get into the most competitive further institutions.

Image courtesy of Putnam Science Academy.

5. Explore interests

Boarding school life isn’t all about work. Besides doing well in their studies, students are also encouraged to channel their energy into pursuing a broad range of gainful interests, such as a sport or creative endeavor. Students will usually get the chance to become involved in clubs or activities that allow them to express themselves or gain a sense of achievement while picking up useful communication and leadership skills. Most boarding schools will also provide top-of-the-line facilities to help students grow outside the classroom.

6. Fluency in English

When learning a language, the best way to become fluent is to immerse yourself in an environment where it is natively spoken. So for international students whose first language is not English, going to school in an English-speaking country can be very helpful in picking up language skills. Being surrounded by peers of the same age is also useful in grasping the more colloquial, generational nuances of a particular language.

While many boarding schools can offer students such advantages, here are four North American boarding schools that have a proven track record in providing a balanced, well-rounded education:

Located in the peaceful town of Putnam, Connecticut, Putnam Science Academy (PSA) offers a top-grade preparatory boarding school education, as well as a day school. The academy places family first, offering a close-knit environment for students in grades 9 to 12 and Post-Graduate (PG) year. Along with a nationally ranked basketball program, it offers an excellent American College Prep education, with a focus on Science, Math and Robotics.

PSA strives to develop young men, from the U.S. and around the world, into individuals who are committed to academic excellence and are engaged citizens. Small class sizes allow teachers to focus on individualized instruction, so that students feel welcomed and appreciated. A dedicated tutoring program taught by experienced teaching faculty with an average of 26 years of education experience per faculty member also ensures that students get the best education possible.

The academy’s 30-acre campus has a rural feel to it, but is within walking distance of many local amenities, including a thriving restaurant and plenty of recreational activities, so students won’t have the chance to get bored.

Since it was founded in 1922, Indian Mountain School (IMS) has encouraged its students to live a “life through service.” The school’s values of honesty, compassion, and respect underscore its teaching and learning goals.

The school, based in Lakeville, Connecticut, is a co-educational junior boarding and day school for students in Pre-Kindergarten to grade 9. Its boarding school program enriches the life of both residential and day students alike, with family-style meals, community celebrations, and morning meetings creating a warm and supportive school culture.

In addition to providing an excellent foundation for high school coursework, IMS also teaches students the skills necessary to live and work with others. Students are taught to find their voice, develop leadership skills, celebrate diversity, and discover their own strengths and talents.

Image courtesy of Indian Mountain School.

The Knox School is located in Long Island, just 50 miles from the hustle and bustle of New York City. The school, a co-educational boarding and day school for grades 6 to 12 and PG year (with a boarding option for grades 7 to PG), prides itself on its dynamic and diverse community that fosters personal and intellectual growth. Knox School provides challenging and engaging programs in a nurturing learning environment, devoting care and attention to every student.

Embracing high standards of character, commitment, and achievement, Knox School encourages students to think critically and creatively. Students are also given the unique opportunity to become active participants in their personal growth, emerging as poised and confident speakers and responsible caring citizens by the time they leave the school.

Founded in 1814, Emma Willard School is an all-girls boarding and day school based in Troy, New York. Its 137-acre Gothic-era campus is listed on the National Historic Register. Teaching grades 9 to 12, the school proudly fosters in each young woman (known as an “Emma girl”) a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, and the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape her world.

The school’s faculty and staff are committed not only to embracing and exploring the individual potential of each girl – her special talents, her drive, and her focus – but to the health and wellness of her mind and body.

Feature image courtesy of Putnam Science Academy.

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