Leading Boarding Schools that produce ambitious graduates

Sending your child to boarding school is undeniably a huge decision, but for many parents it’s also incredibly worthwhile.

The boarding school environment grants pupils an unparalleled schooling. Here, students receive the benefits of education round-the-clock, close (and often lifelong) friendships, individualized attention from teachers, and a readiness for college life.

A boarding school education allows children to think for themselves and gain the independence needed to succeed at an earlier age than their peers. Boarding schools generate thriving communities for children to be a part of – an environment that doesn’t end when the school day is over – and children’s growth and development is at the heart of these communities.

Living in this tight-knit space, students have both the benefits of forming close bonds with their peers as well as gaining a unique and more personalized education. Classes are both challenging and small, with an average of 12 pupils, allowing teachers to spend more time with each individual. This focused attention is the perfect foundation for pupils to excel academically.

A recent study by the Art & Science Group of Baltimore for The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) found that 78 percent of boarding school students are driven by their peers compared to only 49 percent of those at public school. Shy or lazy pupils are unable to hide away: every student is encouraged to speak out and get involved in class, advancing their confidence and ability to speak publicly.

Not only do boarding schools provide outstanding care for pupils’ wellbeing and emotional advancement, but their education is truly second-to-none. According to the TABS study, boarding school students attain significantly higher grades and consequently achieve faster career progression in adult life than private day and public-school students. Boarders are also more likely to go on to earn an advanced degree.

The young person’s first time away from home is conventionally at college. Many students struggle with this adjustment and lack in the independence and time management skills needed to triumph in higher education. The intensity of social situations at college can also be a culture shock to freshmen. Boarders, however, have already been exposed to this style of living, acquiring these skills at a much younger age. It makes sense that on average, boarders are much more equipped to handle the college transition. The TABS study found that 78 percent of boarding school graduates felt prepared for college, compared to just 36 percent of private day and 23 percent of public school students.

Enrolling your child at a boarding school has countless benefits, but one ultimate result: a well-rounded and ambitious young adult.

Here are five schools which will enable your child to thrive after graduation, in college, and beyond into their adult lives…


Archbishop Riordan is the oldest all-boys high school in San Francisco, currently educating 700 boys through both its day and its boarding programs. Riordan is a Catholic school in the Marianist tradition but welcomes young men and families of all faiths. Often, boarding schools reside in remote areas, but Riordan is located in the heart of San Francisco – one of few boarding schools based in a major US city and the only Boarding School in San Francisco.

Riordan fosters a strong family environment through the House System and an  educational philosophy which aims to challenge and nurture in equal measure. At Riordan, young men are encouraged to show leadership in every class, club, sport, and activity.  Through the Makerspace and Engineering Program, Riordan prepares boys for the future of innovation!  For those with an interest in music or athletics, students can join the award-winning Band Program which boasts over 150 members or compete in the WCAL, largely considered the most competitive conference in the country.

Finally, students are encouraged to get ahead of the game and take college-level courses across the street at City College of San Francisco, which earns them extra credit. It’s no doubt that graduates from Archbishop Riordan have gone on to study at some of the top universities in the US.


Established in 1875, Wasatch Academy encourages students to ‘work hard, play hard’. As a world-class school, Wasatch understands that education takes place far beyond the classroom.

With pupils from over 40 countries, Wasatch homes approximately 340 boarders and day students, providing a diverse international environment. The school seeks to push pupils out of their comfort zones and inspire their future ambitions. As such, Wasatch runs a range of outdoor and athletic programs designed to improve confidence and leadership expertise while promoting a sense of adventure.

The school employs a personally-tailored education system: the individualized project-based teaching approach. This means that teachers observe how every child learns before adjusting teaching methods to reflect the individual.

The school advances skills like resilience and self-sufficiency, which are paramount to success in the competitive college-and-job-markets. Above all else, pupils are encouraged to aim high and explore the world wider than their formative years at Wasatch.


Knox School describe themselves as a ‘family’. Much like a parent-child relationship, the school allows students to lead their own lives whilst staff advise and guide, providing the necessary emotional and academic support as and when they need.

Central to the school’s ethos is the encouragement for pupils to learn because they want to. Whilst studying, students are expected to be self-directed which, despite being challenging at times, effectively prepares them for the adult world, in college and beyond. This approach helps pupils’ self-sufficiency and individuality to prosper.

The school builds pupil’s confidence, encouraging them to believe in themselves and in their abilities. This, coupled with the independence pupils acquire, is the perfect recipe for well-rounded young adults who are ready to go out into the world and succeed.

As a result, students are not only increasingly ambitious but are also equipped with the skills needed to achieve those ambitions.


Tilton “challenges students to embrace and navigate a world marked by diversity and change.” Here, students embark on a mission of self-discovery, enabling them to discover who they really are. In turn helping them form both personal, academic and career-based goals. Relationships are important at Tilton; the supportive community helps to further pupils’ curiosity, skills, knowledge and understanding.

Tilton knows that education doesn’t stop when children graduate high-school, aiming to prepare graduates for further study, the world of work and their adult lives. Tilton therefore provides personalized plans for college and life beyond high-school graduation “based on pupils’ specific academic abilities, personal passions, skills and aptitudes.”

This school gifts graduates with the skills to lead successful and fulfilling lives long after they leave. They teach life and leadership skills including how to collaborate, problem-solve, and express themselves effectively. Most importantly, Tilton help pupils mature, gain responsibility and see a world outside of themselves.


The Hawaiian Mission Academy (HMA) implements Christian values onto pupils, aiming to challenge and inspire. HMA help pupils to develop “spiritual, intellectual, social, and physical strengths to become compassionate and responsible lifelong […] learners and global leaders”.

Whilst the academy understands the importance of academia, they also encourage children to develop a knowledge and love of the arts, including for music and literature. HMA provide students with a broad range of subjects to intelligently-stimulate and instil the knowledge they need to function in the world after they leave the school.

HMA acknowledges that a deep respect for hard work is important, and so encourage children to take pride in their labor. Other positive working habits are imbued, including diligence, initiative, and honesty. Pupils are then able to go into the world fuelled by these principles, and driven to succeed.

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

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