Choosing a Boarding School

No two Boarding Schools are alike. Like every child, every Boarding School is unique. It’s important, therefore, to find the right Boarding School for your child.

Here are some helpful hints that will assist you in making an informed decision.

Step 1: Look at numerous schools
Start by looking at every school which catches your fancy. Take time to browse each school's website. Many have excellent video tours will have testimonials from students or parents. There may also be official reviews from overseeing bodies. Also check out independent Boarding School review websites that do not filter student comments.

You should probably take a look at 15-20 schools before refining your list.

Step 2: Narrowing your list
This can be time-consuming because you need to sit down with your child to review each school on the list. As you work through the original list, discard schools which don’t appeal and aim to produce a shortlist containing a maximum of 5 schools.

You whittle down your original list by asking numerous questions.

  • Do you want single gender or a coeducational school?
  • Do you want a small or large school?
  • Do you want a religious school?
  • Does the school cover your special interests such as sport or drama?
  • What about special needs?
  • What are the class sizes?
  • What is the standard of residential accommodation?
  • How good are the recreational facilities?
  • Is your child a good match for the school and vice versa?
  • Is your child likely to pass the entrance exam?

Step 3: Visit the shortlisted schools
Visiting schools on your short list takes time but it is a must-do step. Nothing beats visiting the campus and eye-balling staff and students. The visit and interview is your chance to assess whether a school really is a good fit for your child and your requirements.

Step 4: Admissions Testing
Now is the time to whittle the list down to your final choices and submit your child to sit the admissions tests. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.

Many schools use the SSAT and/or the ISEE which are standardized admissions tests. There will also be an essay and a few other bits of writing which you and your child will have to undertake. So make sure your child has plenty of practice well in advance of the tests.

Step 5: Apply and Pay for it
Most schools have online applications which simplify the process. Some schools use a common application form. Download the forms in September so that you can hand out the teacher recommendation forms and get those taken care of early in the fall.

If you need financial assistance, ensure you file the financial aid request forms in good time. These will include a review of your finances including tax returns and supporting documentation. Most private schools offer generous financial aid packages. Some even offer a free education if your family fulfils a means test.

Special note to Parents: Should you still feel that finding the ideal Boarding School is too daunting, you may wish to contact a professional counseling office to assist you.  There are many across the globe which can be of great service and offer keen advice. Please proceed with great care and make certain they are truly knowledgeable on all aspects of Boarding Schools and Boarding School admissions before contracting their services. One important Boarding School advising team is Arlen Global Advisors located in the US, but with advisors also in Europe and Asia.  They will be able to assist you, or offer suggestions to other professional counselors in your area.

Click here to find out more, or email an Arlen Consultant at

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