US boarding schools
Source: Lawrence Academy

For some families, preparation for college begins early. How early? Oftentimes well before standardised testing prep and virtual campus tours, sometimes even before a young learner starts to grasp basic algebra. 

Some of the most prestigious institutions in the US are known as “prep schools.”  These schools are often known to be high-ranking, offering high-quality curriculums and an extensive suite of extracurricular activities. The end goal is to graduate students ready for their next step, academically, personally and professionally.

Studies confirm this. The Art & Science Group of Baltimore for The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) found that boarding school students are more likely than private and public school students to earn an advanced degree and achieve faster career advancement. Research has also proven that boarders feel more prepared for the rigours of college and university. Small classrooms make it easier for young students to take notes directly from professionals. What’s more, these institutions typically boast a diverse group of students –– making it easier for enrollees to gain global perspectives –– a crucial perk that prepares graduates for international success. Here are four boarding schools in the US with a proven track record for top-of-the-line preparation:

Lawrence Academy

At Lawrence Academy (LA), students are prepared for a life driven by conviction and meaning. Home to 400 boarding and day students, representing 21 countries, this independent, co-ed school is where pupils partake in an individualised learning experience that sets them on the right track to achieve academic, athletic and artistic excellence. All teachers are equipped to “teach for understanding,” using innovative approaches that recognise each pupil, inspire them to become who they want to be and empower them to take action for the greater good.

US boarding schools

Source: Lawrence Academy

With over 200 years of experience, a 5:1 student-faculty ratio, 140 academic offerings and 40 advanced and honours-level courses, LA students –– in grades nine to 12 –– have what they need to forge their own paths to horizon-broadening scholarship. When it comes to thinking, students are taught how to and not what they should be thinking in immersive, hands-on classes. Diploma requirements here include English, mathematics, history, foreign language, art, science, ESL (for non-native English-speakers), Winterim and community service. Support is always available, via weekly office hours, the academic centre –– that is open during study hours –– and learning coaches.

When it comes to artistic and athletic development, training is just as personalised and growth-spurring. For students just as passionate about the arts as LA, they will be able to nurture their skills in visual arts, theatre, music, dance and more at the Williams Art Centre or the Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Centre. For young athletes, there is a sport and level for every interest, including cross country, soccer, football, yoga, skiing, and lacrosse, to name a few. 

Once students are ready, the LA College Counseling Office comes in, organising college panels, finance workshops and informal meetings. These offerings have proven to be effective with LA graduates progressing into some of the world’s most prestigious institutions such as Bard College, Dartmouth College, New York University, Stanford University and Wesleyan University. At Lawrence Academy, all graduates RISE: Recognised, Inspired, Supported and Empowered. Learn more about Lawrence Academy here

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.

US boarding schools

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. 

Worcester Academy

At Worcester Academy (WA) in Massachusetts, 594 middle and upper school students –– 35% of whom are five-day and seven-day boarders –– learn in a thriving and diverse community. In WA’s 71-acre campus, a total of 20 countries are represented, with 20% of students identifying as underrepresented minorities. Here, international students have been warmly welcomed for over 175 years.

US boarding schools

Source: Worcester Academy

Its campus has four residential dormitories –– two for boys, two for girls –– each with a common gathering space to keep students engaged outside the classroom. There is no better place for international students to find their footing in the US, with many opportunities to improve written and oral English skills.

For all, core areas of study include communication skills, creative and critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, collaboration, cultural competency and global connection. For seniors who have yet to gain the confidence for their next step, they will be able to muster the courage with WA’s unique postgraduate programme. Here, high school graduates take on the traditional Grade 12 curriculum, alongside a focus that will set them on the right path –– be it stronger grades, athletic growth or better grasp on US culture. 

Stoneleigh-Burnham School

At Stoneleigh-Burnham School, young girls are enroute to paths of discovery and confidence. Here, they are thought to think independently, act ethically and ensure their voices are heard. Ultimately, the SBS community is one that fosters international perspective

US boarding schools

Source: Shutterstock

Founded in 1869, one of the ways SBS drives this is with a welcoming approach. The school is multinational, currently home to young women from over 15 states in the US and over a dozen countries around the world, and counting. The main reason? Achievement. SBA is the first all-girls boarding school in New England to offer the internationally recognised International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. A route proven to be successful with the school proudly boasting a 100% college acceptance rate. With the help of college counselling and both SAT and ACT prep courses, maticulations include world-renowned universities such as Boston University, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Princeton University and Syracuse University –– amongst many others. 

The school and its students continue to break records outside the classroom. SBS is also the only school in the US to offer the British Horse Society (BHS) Certification Programme, recognised in 32 countries. It’s extensive lineup of extra-curricular activities also include a world-class Debate and Public Speaking Society programme, ten varsity teams, 16  athletic choices, 12 student clubs and organisations and 10 performing groups

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