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Applying to Boarding School: A Guide for Students and Parents

Are you exploring boarding school with your child? Boarding schools offer a unique educational experience that can provide students with not only a rigorous academic curriculum but also opportunities for personal growth and independence. However, the application process can be daunting. In this guide, we’ll discuss who goes to boarding school, when you should start the application process, and what is required to apply.

Who Goes to Boarding School?

Boarding schools are private schools that offer a residential program. They are not just for the wealthy or for students with behavioral problems. In fact, boarding schools can be a great option for many students, including those who are academically gifted, those who want to participate in extracurricular activities that are not available at their local schools, and those who are looking for a more challenging academic environment.

Boarding school can also be beneficial for those who need more academic support. Many traditional boarding schools offer more academic support than local high schools and there are also boarding schools that cater specifically to students with learning differences.

Boarding schools offer a structured environment with dedicated faculty and staff who are committed to helping students reach their full potential. Students who attend boarding school have access to a range of resources and facilities, including libraries, science labs, music rooms, athletic facilities, and more. They also benefit from living with peers who are similarly motivated and engaged.

When Should You Start the Application Process?

The application process for boarding school typically begins in the fall of the year preceding the desired enrollment year. For example, if you want your child to start boarding school in the fall of 2024, you would begin the application process in the fall of 2023. It’s important to start early because the process can be time-consuming and may involve multiple steps, including:

  • Researching schools

  • Visiting Schools

  • Completing applications

  • Gathering transcripts, test scores, and other documents

  • Writing essays

  • Requesting recommendations

  • Participating in interviews

  • Submitting financial aid applications (if applicable)

Starting the process early can help ensure that you have enough time to complete each step thoroughly and that you meet all deadlines. Some families begin the process in the spring before they begin the application process to allow more time for researching and visiting schools before putting together their school application list.

What is Required to Apply?

The requirements for applying to boarding school vary by school, but in general, you can expect to provide the following:

  • Completed application form

  • Application fee

  • Transcripts from current and previous schools

  • Standardized test scores (such as the SSAT or ISEE) - if required by the school

  • Essays

  • Teacher recommendations

  • Interview (in-person or virtual)

Some schools may also require additional materials, such as a resume, creative portfolio, or personal statement. It’s important to carefully review the requirements for each school you’re considering to ensure that you provide all necessary materials.

The application process for boarding school can be challenging, but with careful planning and preparation, it can be a rewarding experience for both students and parents. By starting early and carefully reviewing the requirements for each school, you can help ensure that you find the right fit for your child’s educational and personal goals.


Want to learn more about boarding school? Join us on September 26 at the Charlotte Marriott, Southpark for Boarding School 360. Over 40 of the nation's top boarding schools will attend this school fair. Chat with admissions reps, gather materials, and ask questions. Join us for our session prior to the fair opening to learn more about the application process. Click HERE to receive updates on this year's fair.

Garrett Educational Consulting offers comprehensive college and boarding school application support for students. Click HERE to learn more about our services.

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