How to Choose a Boarding School
The process acim a boarding school is a bit more complex than it was 20 years ago. The reason being that today there are many types of boarding schools created to fill specific needs. In the 1960’s there were, for the most part, only college prep schools based mostly on the east coast. Those schools then and today cater to high school age kids who were destined for Ivy League colleges that their family and tradition dictated they attend. These college prep schools demanded strong academics and a formidable family fortune for a young person to be admitted. Today, however, there are a great many different types of boarding schools available all over the nation.
1) As mentioned above, college prep schools are still the majority of boarding schools available in the United States. These schools require strong GPA and test scores and have very rigid admissions policies. All college prep schools require a student comply with a code of conduct and, while offering the finest education available in the country, have little patience for behavioral issues among their students.
2) Academic recover/catch-up boarding schools are the next category available in the U.S. These schools have a somewhat lower admission standard as to GPA and test scores and specialize in preparing kids for college who have the native intelligence but to that point have failed to gain the study skills necessary to succeed in other school formats. These schools traditionally are called alternative boarding schools or academic catch up schools and have a good reputation for preparing kids to perform in a wide variety of college formats or getting kids graduated from high school with a good foundation to pursue other non-college careers.
Academic catch up schools also accept kids with minor behavioral (fighting with parents, minor marijuana use etc.), ADD, ADHD issues. Children in the autistic spectrum (Asperger’s, etc.) have also been known to function well in the small class size, specially trained instructor environments. Academic catch up boarding schools are not, however, a place for troubled youth i.e. kids with serious drug, violence, or therapeutic issues. In common usage these schools are referred to as a place for “good kids who have gotten off course.” These schools have structure to encourage improved behavior and loftier life goals, however, the focus in definitely on education.
3) Behavioral Schools. For the children last mentioned above with serious behavioral issues, the next category is the therapeutic boarding schools or residential treatment centers. Though sometimes run by the various States as a part of their juvenile detention program, most today are privately run. This type of boarding school is intended for kids with serious behavioral issues such as we enumerated above. Drugs, violence, sexual issues are part of the student profile common in these schools. Offering a strong therapeutic approach mixed with a degree of education in some schools, these institutions attempt to change life styles of at-risk youth to allow them to transition back into society while avoiding additional interactions with the law that may prohibit future progress in the educational systems and society.
4) Military Boarding Schools. Military boarding schools are available in most parts of the country and offer education couched in a strong discipline or military format. For kids who respond well to very strict structure these schools have shown themselves to be a solid choice. Not all military schools are strictly military in their approach but all offer very solid structure mixed with the teaching of military principles to enhance the talents of children not functioning up to par in a public or private school.