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Advice for Applying to Boarding School - Part 1: Knowing what you want

Applying to boarding school can be a tricky thing. As a former admission counselor, I often interviewed students who didn’t know what they wanted in a school. It can be overwhelming to get started with the boarding school admission process, but taking a step-by-step approach can make it a little easier. To get you started, I’ve put together four questions to ask yourself as you begin your search for the right boarding school:

1. Why are you applying to boarding school?

This seems obvious, but I was surprised at how many students who came in for interviews couldn’t answer this basic question. The first step to a successful boarding school application and interview is to know why you want to attend boarding school. Perhaps you want to gain independence and learn to better manage your time in preparation for college. Maybe you live in an area where the school options aren’t the right fit for you. Whatever may be motivating you to apply to boarding school, make sure you have thought about what you want and why boarding school is right for you.

CampusEntrance_12. Where are you willing to look?

According to, you can choose from approximately 300 boarding schools in the U.S. and Canada, all of which are members of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS). So, you need to work on narrowing down your choices. An easy way to start is to think about location. Do you want a city, suburban or rural setting? Do you want to be close to home, or are you willing to travel a distance for the right school? Do you have family in another area, where you would have a support system if you decided to attend school farther away from home?

3. What type of boarding school is right for you?

Next, it’s important to consider the type of school you want to attend. Do you want a large school that might prepare you for the environment of a large university, or a smaller community similar to that of small liberal arts colleges? Do you want a school with a specialized focus, such as art or science, or one that will give you a chance to experience a wide-range of subjects and activities to help you find your passion?

10408807_718177618276269_2687471585904592479_n4. What programs are important to you?

Whatever your interests may be and support you may need, it’s important to find a school that offers the programs that are essential to creating the ideal learning and living environment for you. If you’re an aspiring engineer, attending a school without an engineering program doesn’t make sense. Think about your academic interests, as well as the aspects of athletics, arts, and student life that you need to make your boarding school experience complete.


The boarding school search is about creating your ideal experience and finding the school that fits your needs. Hopefully these questions will help you create a general outline of what you want out of your boarding school experience, that can guide you in the next steps of the boarding school application process.

Stay tuned for “Advice for Applying to Boarding School - Part 2,” where I’ll talk about how you can use this outline to move forward in your search to find the right boarding school for you.


Stacy Jagodowski

Written by Stacy Jagodowski

Ms. Jago joined the Cheshire Academy community in August 2013 as the director of strategic marketing and communications. Prior to coming to Cheshire Academy, she spent six years working in communications offices at both colleges and private school, as well as five years in admission at both boarding schools and day schools.

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