Leading boarding schools in America for holistic education and graduate outcomes

Providing a holistic, well-rounded education for students has become a key goal for international boarding schools over recent years. The focus has steadily moved away from exam scores towards an education that places an emphasis on the “whole” person – helping them develop intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

The way that modern boarding schools achieve this goal can significantly vary, and for parents and students it often comes down to instinct or personal preference. One school, for example, might have an exceptional equestrian program, while another might provide a really attractive location. Most modern American boarding schools offer a very high standard of tuition, so often it’s the opportunities available outside of the classroom that influence the final decision.

ojai valley school outdoor activityImage courtesy of Ojai Valley School

Boarding schools in the U.S. are considered among the world’s best in finding the right balance between academia and external activities. Excellent facilities and highly-trained staff are encouraging more parents around the world to consider a U.S. boarding school education for their children.

The Association of Boarding Schools in the U.S. found that more than 17 percent of boarding students in the 2015-16 academic year came from abroad, up from the 16.2 percent recorded the previous year.

Progressive boarding schools should continue to provide a rigorous academic education, while also offering students co-curricular activities, physical education, regular field trips, dramatic arts and music, and even the chance to take part in community service initiatives.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these…

Arts & music

It is now widely accepted that learning an instrument and taking part in other art forms significantly helps young students grow intellectually and emotionally. The best boarding schools offer classes in a number of instruments, and allow students to take part in acting, dancing and other performance arts. Arts and music classes also encourage students to work collaboratively, as they produce concerts and school theatre productions under the guidance of staff and faculty.

ojai valley school outdoor activityImage courtesy of American University Preparatory School

Sport & recreation

While most boarding schools know that regular exercise is essential for a holistic education, the best ones understand that sporting activities should be an inclusive and fun experience for all. Schools should have the facilities and staff in place to help those with athletic prowess to achieve to their highest level, while making sure there are activities and pursuits available for everyone to enjoy.

Field trips & outdoor education

One of the best things about studying in the U.S. is that stunning natural beauty and unique cultural activities are never far away. From exploring the nation’s museums and historical sites to hiking in amazing national parks, the U.S. offers a wealth of educational opportunities outside of the campus setting. Most boarding schools offer regular day and weekend trips for curious students, providing a great way to see the U.S. and help them gain a greater understanding of the wider world.

st. timothy school horse ridingImage courtesy of  St Timothy’s School

Community engagement

While U.S. boarding schools work tirelessly to create a ‘home away from home’, they also strive to create strong bonds between students and the local community. Whether cleaning up local beaches, or helping local elderly residents, boarding school students can enrich their own lives and the lives of others by helping out with community projects.

How holistic education is securing excellent graduate outcomes…

While academic performance is still key for students looking to enter top U.S. universities, more higher education institutions are seeking the ‘complete’ individual throughout the admissions process. Co-curricular activities, participation in the arts, and volunteer experience are all becoming key factors in recognizing well-rounded university applicants.

All good boarding schools will happily share university acceptance rates with interested parents, and will also provide dedicated college counseling services to each and every student in order to help them find the best graduate outcome.

Here are four U.S. boarding schools that have found the perfect balance between a holistic education and excellent graduate outcomes:


ojai valley school horse ridingImage courtesy of Ojai Valley School

Ojai Valley School (OVS) provides a holistic education for boarding students from across the globe. It is a diverse boarding community for students in grades 3 through 12, who benefit from the highest academic standards while enjoying all that the school’s co-curricular activities and stunning location have to offer.

OVS places a strong focus on the intellectual and personal growth of each student. The school is renowned for its equestrian program, which features stables on both its high school and middle school campuses. Students learn to ride with confidence, with many taking the opportunity to compete as member of a school team. With beautiful weather year-round, OVS offers a range of other outdoor sports, including tennis, soccer, baseball, volleyball, golf, lacrosse and cross-country running.

Another stand-out feature at OVS is the Outdoor Education program, which introduces students to the stunning mountains, canyons, deserts and beaches of the West, while teaching them how to respect and care for an increasingly fragile environment.

At OVS, graduate outcomes are outstanding thanks to the school’s high academic standards, Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum, and excellent teaching faculty, who ensure that graduating students find the right fit university.


wasatch academy student cheerImage courtesy of Wasatch Academy

Wasatch Academy is a highly regarded co-ed college preparatory boarding school for Grades 8-12. Students wishing to study in America find Wasatch Academy an ideal school to excel at core curriculum, master English skills, and experience American culture and outdoor adventure.

Wasatch Academy, founded in 1875, is located in the safe rural community of Mount Pleasant, Utah. The Academy prepares students for the highest academic standards through project-based and student-centered learning curriculum, small class sizes averaging just 9 students, and unparalleled individual attention.

Students are equipped with the academic prowess they need to be accepted into the world’s top universities, while also learning essential 21st century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, leadership, adaptability, communication and curiosity. Wasatch Academy graduates have 100 percent college acceptance.

This holistic approach to education is a key philosophy at Wasatch Academy, where students learn and progress in a trusting and supportive environment that values dignity, respect, kindness, and acceptance, allowing students to develop and grow their unique voice and passions. Also key is the schools spirit of adventure. Wasatch Academy’s Outdoor Program provides students some of the very best adventure opportunities the United States has to offer. Skiing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, and more opportunities abound in Utah.


american university preparatory schoolImage courtesy of American University Preparatory School

Since it was founded in 2013, the American University Preparatory School (AUP) in downtown Los Angeles has been attracting new students from across the U.S. and around the world who want to live and study in a unique and vibrant environment.

AUP takes full advantage of its exciting location, allowing students to explore one of the U.S.’s most exciting cities while studying at partner music schools and even on a real, working film set.

While AUP firmly works towards a holistic and rewarding education for its students, preparing them for the nation’s top universities remains the its chief goal through a focus on STEAM Education and Global Leadership.


 St Timothy school music lessonImage courtesy of St Timothy’s School

Located in Baltimore, St. Timothy’s is an all-girls boarding and day school for Grades 9-12. Founded in 1882, its mission is to prepare the best and brightest girls from the U.S. and around the world for university and beyond.

St. Timothy’s pairs a rigorous but rewarding curriculum with a host of activities to provide a holistic education for everyone who attends. St. Timothy’s strong athletics and equestrian programs, and commitment to art, music and dance ensure that all graduates emerge as well-rounded individuals ready to succeed in the modern word.

Top universities are only more than happy to consider St. Timothy’s girls, all of whom emerge with the highly respected International Baccalaureate diploma.

Feature image courtesy of Wasatch Academy

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