What to look for in a Boarding School

“We sent our boys to Prep because of its academic reputation and were more than satisfied with how [it] prepared them for life. It was an honor and privilege to send our sons to Prep! The investment by our family was worth every dime.” – Tom, Parent, Saint John’s Preparatory School

Every parent wants their child to receive the best possible academic foundation. You’ll look in your search area and consider costly yet revered private institutions, but still it’s a decision that’s not easily made. Throw in your status as a member of the expat community into an already complex mix, and it can fast become a choice that causes bucket-loads of stress.

Getting set for your new life abroad may seem easy – but tension and concern for the welfare and safety of your children is something of a predicament.

How do I make sure they’re going to get the same high-quality education?

What are we going to do about the language barrier?

How will this affect their path to university and their future at large?

Will they be safe? Will they make friends? And above all, will they be happy?

While most countries offer a range of education options for students of all ages and abilities, this is both a case of personal preference and, of course, what’s best for your child. It’s okay if you need a little help along the way; you want to be confident you’ve made the right choice. And if you still need reassurance and support, here are our top tips on what to look for in boarding school education…

Academic excellence

You want your child to learn at a school that encourages intellectual curiosity, urging them to ask questions and engage in challenging dialogue in their constant pursuit for new knowledge.

A school like Saint John’s Prep – in Collegeville, Minnesota – is the perfect example of this, offering a syllabus that stimulates students and unleashes their true potential. With a 6th Grade Middle School program, Middle School 7 & 8 program and an Upper School program, there’s a developmentally appropriate curriculum for everyone at Saint John’s Prep. Here, a comprehensive class schedule equips learners with essential leadership and communication skills, allowing them to develop into academically-advanced students.

As a school that provides a safe, supportive environment and allows learners to be creatively free, it’s no surprise 100 percent of Saint John’s Prep students who apply to university gain admittance to one of their top choice institutions.

College connection

If your child has access to college-level classes, concepts and facilities from an early age, their prospects are going to shine. Familiarity with the college experience will give them an edge on their peers.

Saint John’s Prep students have the opportunity to pursue college-level classes, as well as make use of the facilities at Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict. Coupled with a college prep curriculum set on preparing students for college, there’s no better place to prime your child for the journey to higher education.

International Baccalaureate (IB) school

The IB Diploma Programme is the ultimate tool for creating responsible, well-educated and globally-relevant graduates. With six key fields of study in language; second language; mathematics; science; individuals and society; and the arts, your child will grow into a confident, well-rounded adult with the help of the IB structure.

Saint John’s Prep is a recognized IB World School, and a great choice for elevating your child’s future. It follows the traditional IB framework, but also offers a two-year program of rigorous study during junior and senior years. Here, your child will find the tools needed to thrive in a competitive world.


Close bonds with faculty, administration staff, parents and alumni are what empower students both inside and outside the classroom. The foundation upon which Saint John’s Prep sits is the principle of community. An intentionally small cohort allows students to actively engage in school life, developing a strong sense of self and a long-term appreciation of community value.

International Student Program

It’s important to consider the diversity of your chosen school’s student body. As a parent, you should question balance of different nationalities and cultures at the school to ensure your child will leave instilled with valuable global perspectives. That being said, you also want to be sure your child will be encouraged and supported for the duration of their studies – otherwise, factors such as homesickness, language and cultural barriers can leave them feeling lost.

With more than 50 years’ experience of leading and inspiring international students, Saint John’s Prep has long-term dedication to hosting students from all over the globe.

With approximately 25 percent of St. John’s Prep upper school populations consisting of international students, there’s a great sense of cultural appreciation throughout the school. With English language support services (ESOL) and an International Student Advisor to help students navigate their journey through Saint John’s Prep, learners have no reason to feel overwhelmed, lost or alone. In addition, parents have access to their son or daughter’s academic progress via an online portal. Parents are always welcome to visit or schedule an online chat.

“[This is a] great place for students to develop themselves and prepare for college and beyond,” one Saint John’s Prep alum explains. “Each student is treated as an individual, instead of a number like other larger schools. The faculty and staff are well trained and prepared for their positions,” he concludes, “and the extracurricular programs let students explore their interests in a friendly environment.”

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