Boarding schools in the US: Today’s students, future change-makers

boarding schools in the US
Source: Canterbury School

Students need to do far more than hit the books if they want to succeed in life. Many schools in the US are starting to agree. By providing service learning opportunities, their students feed the hungry, entertain the elderly, nurse the injured, and shelter the homeless — both locally and abroad. 

These experiences are important. They give young people a first-hand look at just how much their work can have an impact on the world. They even help them explore their academic and non-academic interests through a real-world lens. Such exposure gives them a distinct advantage in the university application and job application process as well. Admissions officers and recruiters know these individuals have both the competencies and confidence to lead. 

Many important skills can be honed only by contributing to the greater good. They include communication, collaboration, creativity, strategy, decision-making and many more — all of which will benefit students as they transition to higher education or the world of work. If you’re looking for a school that will evolve your child into a global citizen, here are some top picks to consider:

Canterbury School

Located in the quaint town of New Milford, Connecticut, Canterbury School is a college preparatory, coeducational boarding and day school for students in grades nine to 12. An extraordinary community of faculty — who also serve as coaches, dorm parents, and advisors — work tirelessly to know students and know them well. As a result, they foster an ever-welcoming and high-achieving environment of academic rigour and personal growth for its multinational student body. There are 325 students here, representing 16 countries, and each is challenged to reach their greatest potential in and out of the classroom.

boarding schools in the US

Canterbury is an intentionally small school with all the opportunities of a large, innovative academic program. Source: Canterbury School

From the moment they arrive on campus, students are invited to be an active part of the school community and the world around them. They start by leveraging the D’Amour Centre for Faith, Service, and Justice, where they explore community service, campus ministry, spirituality, social justice, and leadership programming. They dive deeper into their passions, discover their purpose, and immerse themselves in things that matter most to them. A Canterbury education is unlike any other in helping students grow in self-awareness, develop character, and recognise their ability to impact the world and the lives of others.

True change-making can only take flight with the right intellectual tools, which is why Canterbury’s curriculum is both rigorous and dynamic with a broad selection of elective offerings along with 18 Advanced Placement and 25 Honours courses. Students are even offered the unique chance to take undergraduate courses from Syracuse University to earn college credits recognised at 80% of colleges and universities in the US.

Throughout their academic journey, students become equipped with the skills they need to succeed in college and beyond. These start with critical thinking and problem-solving, strength in writing and communicating, and a solid foundation in digital literacy. The school’s signature Digital Communication, Design, and Innovation programme brings together computer programming, digital media, engineering, and visual arts in one unique academic department. Many classes are conducted at the school’s brand new, state-of-the-art Steers Centre, which boasts highly flexible classrooms, an Innovation & Design Lab, and Digital Media Lab — all structured to encourage interdisciplinary learning, merging elements of design thinking, fabrication, and ideation with subjects like the humanities, arts, and science.

Miss Hall’s School

Since its founding in 1898 — the first girls’ boarding school in Massachusetts — Miss Hall’s has been inspiring and encouraging each student to pursue the highest academic standards and to contribute boldly and creatively to the common good. Situated in the beautiful New England landscape, with rolling hills, a river, and two ponds, its 80-acre campus is an ideal setting for girl-centered learning. What truly sets this boarding school apart, however, is its ability to nurture girls into young women with the confidence to lead and the skills to make a positive difference in the world.

boarding schools in the US

Hallmark classes at Miss Hall’s provide in-depth and challenging coursework through advanced courses that cover Artificial Intelligence, Creative Writing, Latin and Biotechnology. Source: Miss Hall’s School

Miss Hall’s School is recognised internationally for its experiential leadership curriculum, service and internship programmes, and its supportive, inclusive community. The school currently enrols 180 students from 24 countries, living and learning together as global citizens. Its signature Horizons programme has over 75 volunteer and pre-professional opportunities tailored to each girl’s interests — 100% participate every week throughout the year. Life in the classroom is just as dynamic, as advanced Hallmark classes at Miss Hall’s provide in-depth and challenging coursework in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Creative Writing, Art Intensive, Latin, Biotechnology, and the Law.

Every young woman here is encouraged to develop their voice — whether that means advocating for girls and women in science at the United Nations, speaking before the Massachusetts State legislature about restricting the distribution of single-use plastics, or providing needed translation services to immigrants.

Episcopal High School

Since 1839, Episcopal High School has been challenging students to evolve into young adults ready to lead lives of ethical leadership and service.

What sets Episcopal HS apart is its 100% boarding community and location. At its 130-acre residential campus, 440 students in grades nine to 12 and faculty live in a setting where they can discover passions, interests, and personal strengths. There are only three other 100% boarding schools in the US.

boarding schools in the US

Students learn by making connections from freshman to sophomore and junior to senior years. Source: Episcopal High School.

Here, close relationships — the kind that help us understand, appreciate, and bridge our differences — are forged. Step beyond campus and the intriguing, real-world experiences amidst the vast resources of Washington, D.C. — only eight miles away — and beyond, are at the disposal of students. On a weekly basis, students get to take full advantage of all the nation’s capital has to offer, be it during their extracurricular programmes or their experiential classes.

Episcopal HS also offers special programming through the McCain-Ravenel Centre for Intellectual and Moral Courage. The centre coordinates and supports signature initiatives that prepare Episcopal HS students for life outside Episcopal and to help them embody the Portrait of a Graduate. These include the Washington Programme, Global Programmes, Leadership and Ethics, Outdoor Leadership, and Service and Civic Engagement.

The centre’s name is fitting for its and Episcopal HS’s mission — it is named for the late Sen. John McCain ’54 and his Episcopal HS mentor, teacher William B. Ravenel, a World War II veteran who inspired McCain to pursue a life of honour and service.

St. Paul’s School

Founded in 1856, St. Paul’s School (SPS) was originally established on 50 acres of land. Today, its grounds now span 2,000 idyllic acres, including 25 miles of wooded trails, four ponds and the upper third of the Turkey River – ideal surroundings for young learners who love exploring.

boarding schools in the US

SPS students spend four mornings a week in the community chapel. Source: St. Paul’s School

SPS students spend four mornings a week in the community chapel. There are 19 houses and house heads, over 70 clubs and societies and more than 850 friendly members of the community. Of the 850, over 500 community members are students who come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. “I have friends now from Hong Kong, from Germany, from Canada – these are the kind of relationships you’ll form over time, but really it starts here at St. Paul’s,” shares Sam, a student from California.

The SPS core curriculum includes teachings in the humanities, mathematics, the sciences, languages, religion and the arts. These key subjects go hand-in-hand with the school’s priority to nurture students through the performing arts, an inclusive chapel programme and community engagement. The ultimate goal is to provide young learners with all the preparation they need to succeed in college, life and the workforce.

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