It’s undeniable that some of the most important years of any student’s life come right before they’re set to begin university. In their last few schooling years, they’re expected to make important decisions — and, with this, shape their future careers and outcomes. Because of this, it’s critical for parents to choose a school that will give them the tools, opportunities, and exposure they need to inform their decisions.
There are plenty of schools that could be right for your child — and among these, boarding schools are some of the most popular. Research has shown that boarding school students feel more prepared for life after graduation, and are more likely to assimilate into their college and university years with relative ease. They’re also more likely to produce driven students who go on to earn advanced degrees, or who take on more prominent roles in their careers and communities.
In this regard, the US is a natural contender. Students at US schools are surrounded by endless opportunities, seeing that the country is home to some of the world’s most respected universities. On top of that, schools here are known for their beautiful campuses, tapping into wide expanses of land and providing space for many activities that promote self-discovery.
Here are four schools in the US providing a safe and supportive pre-university experience:
Lexington Christian Academy
Academic achievement, spiritual and moral growth, creativity, and a desire to serve others — these best describe the qualities of students at Lexington Christian Academy (LCA). As an independent coeducational college preparatory school, LCA is paving the way for a faith-based education that not only develops bright young minds, but responsible, caring citizens of the world.
Here, students are given the tools and guidance to help them grow into the best versions of themselves. Its Upper School programme is inherently interdisciplinary, combining classical academic subjects with athletics and arts. LCA offers 10 AP courses and 15 Fine Arts courses with concentrations in STEM, Arts, Global Studies and Innovation — providing countless opportunities for students to discover their passions and interests.
The best part? LCA is just a short 20-minute drive from Boston — a vibrant hub of opportunities in technology and the sciences. The school takes full advantage of this through career exploration trips to prominent locations, such as Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as well as college trips to some of the world’s top universities.
Students are supported by a robust advising programme, where they work one-on-one with advisors to uncover their individual strengths and passions – to find their “Awesome.” A personalised, process-oriented approach helps students find the college that’s best suited to them — and, ultimately, chart a meaningful course for their futures.
For students in Grades eight to 12, LCA has a boarding programme that’s warm, welcoming and comfortable. Here, international and domestic students experience a home away from home. The residential community is engaging, where family-style dinners are enjoyed and community activities draw in even the most reserved students. The residential hall is set in a picturesque environment that fully utilises the beauty of New England’s landscape. Students are equipped with only the best: single rooms with half-bathroom en-suites, music practice rooms, a baby grand living room, comfortable lounges, an outdoor basketball court, exercise facilities, cafe and formal dining room, outdoor patio with fire pit and more.
Located in the quaint town of New Milford, Connecticut, Canterbury School is a college preparatory, coeducational boarding and day school for students in grades nine to 12. From a lush hilltop, its extraordinary community of faculty, staff, parents, and alumni are working together to foster an ever-welcoming environment of academic rigour, athletic development, artistic enrichment, and spiritual growth. There are 325 students here, representing 16 countries, and each is expected to thrive.
Staying true to its values of honesty, respect, compassion, spirituality, and self-resilience, Canterbury encourages every student to partake in service learning opportunities locally and abroad.
They start with the community that surrounds them by leveraging the D’Amour Centre for Faith, Service and Justice. Here, they explore community service, campus ministry, social justice, and student leadership programming. All other beliefs are just as welcomed. Throughout the day students can join many service activities, retreats, discussion groups, and prayerful meditation.
True changemaking can only take flight with the right intellectual tools, which is why the signature Canterbury curriculum is both rigorous and dynamic with 18 Advanced Placement and 25 Honours courses. Students are even offered the unique chance to take on undergraduate courses from Syracuse University to earn college credits recognised at 80% of colleges and universities in the US.
“As the best small boarding school, Canterbury invites you to participate in the most comprehensive version of a high school experience as students, athletes, artists, community members, and servant leaders,” says Head of School Rachel Stone.
“As a Saint, you will grow, contribute, and lead in transformational ways. You will learn that Saints show up for Saints. And you will call our hilltop your home.”
At Dublin School, one message transcends all: that students, in fact, can do it all. Founded in 1935, this independent boarding and day school strives to awaken a thirst for knowledge and passion for learning in all its students from Grades nine to 12. Most importantly, Dublin hopes to instil a culture that gives students room to try new things, all without sacrificing the joys of being a teenager.
Academic excellence is a quality that’s highly encouraged at Dublin, with every student taking on six academic courses a semester. The school offers a range of AP courses in a diverse number of subject areas as well, including: AP Biology, AP Environmental Sci, AP US Government and Politics, and more.
Dublin offers a large array of specialised electives, all of which are developed according to students’ curiosity or teachers’ passions. Students are also given the chance to initiate independent studies, giving them limitless possibilities to enhance their individual learning experiences.
“Our size allows us to be intentional in everything we do. Whether that is beginning every day as a community in Morning Meeting — sharing stories and our talents — or in creating signature programmes around Writing, Programming Robotics Imagination Science Math (PRISM), Spanish Language Learning, Endurance Sports, Theater, or Residential Life — everything has purpose,” shares Head of School Brad Bates.
“We believe in building a life of meaningful work that allows teenagers to find the deep satisfaction that is a byproduct of effort and achievement.”
The Dublin campus spans 500 acres of a typical New England school. It’s home to gorgeous views of the Monadnock Mountain ranges, a lighted Alpine ski hill, and miles upon miles of racing ski trails, mountain biking, and running trails. All in all, it’s a perfect location for the quintessential US boarding school experience.
Surrounded by a serene waterfront at the coastal town of Saco, Maine, Thornton Academy is a non-sectarian, co-educational day and boarding school for pupils from Grade Six to 12. Although it has stood for over two centuries, students aren’t encumbered by tradition: the school fully welcomes inquisitiveness and self-discovery for all its learners.
Here, students are free to explore new possibilities in the sheer diversity of its academic programmes. Students can design their own learning with more than 200 courses in seven academic departments, including 26 Advanced Placement classes and more than 40 honours classes.
Thornton Academy is also well-known for its unique arts department. Fifteen courses are offered in the performing arts alone, including the four-year dance programme in which students can gain advanced choreographic and performance experience. The 500-seater Garland Auditorium sees over 75 productions, spanning dance, theatre, and music annually for students to showcase their talent.
A warm, family-like dynamic permeates its boarding life, supported by in-house staff who are also teachers to meet each pupil’s emotional and learning needs. Boarders develop a sense of community through dining, dorm activities, and weekend excursions that enrich their lives on campus.
“It gives me a sense of fulfillment, knowing that kids end up seeing this place as home. We are coming through on the promise that we make to these students,” shares Catherine Paradis, Director of Residential Life. “As a parent myself, I would want my child taken care of the way we take care of our students at Thornton Academy.”
*Some of the schools featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International