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Eight Types of Boarding Schools You Didn’t Know Existed

There’s a common misconception that all boarding schools are the same. In fact, there are a slew of different types of boarding schools available for you to attend depending on your learning style, interests, and more. From college prep and single-gender schools, to athletic and arts-focused schools, there are boarding schools for everyone. Check out these types of boarding schools that you might not have known about:

College Prep Schools

A college preparatory school is exactly what it seems: a school that prepares you for college. Not every student who attends boarding school has a goal of attending college, but those who do will likely attend a college prep school. These schools tend to have small class sizes, college counseling services, and offer a wide range of academics, athletics, and arts to help students become well-rounded individuals. These schools typically have regular schedules, dress codes, and strict rules for students to help them stay on a positive path to college admission.


Single Gender Schools

For many students, attending a single gender school is an opportunity to grow without the distractions of a coed classroom, especially in the teenage years when dating becomes popular. The single sex environment can be empowering to students; a shy student might feel more comfortable speaking up in a single sex classroom and take more risks. An outgoing and active student focused on gaining the attention of the opposite sex might find that he or she is more prone to study and focus on academics in this type of environment. Most single sex schools offer students opportunities to interact with students from other schools, which means you’ll meet and hang out with students of the opposite sex periodically.


Art Schools

Students who wish to pursue a particular art form in college and as a career path might benefit from a private school focused on the arts. These creative schools give aspiring artists more opportunities to focus on their skills and delve into deeper studies on their mediums, be it visual art, dance, drama, music, or digital photography. Most boarding schools offer rich arts programs, and some even offer special programs for serious artists, like Cheshire Academy’s Art Major program, but art schools place significant emphasis on preparing artists for specialized art colleges, art apprenticeships, and careers as artists.


Sports Schools

Serious athletes wishing to pursue amateur and professional athletic careers, including Olympic hopefuls, might benefit from attending a sports-focused school. Typically these are boarding schools that offer intense training in only one sport, whereas most boarding and day schools encourage students to play multiple sports. These sport-focused schools still place strong emphasis on academics, but include athletic training as a top priority.


Religious Schools

If your faith a large part of your life, you might consider attending a school with a religious affiliation. Attending a Christian school might mean that you participate in Bible study as well as the traditional academics. Some schools might restrict admission to only those affiliated with the religion, which other religious schools might focus on one religion but accept students of all faiths.  


Junior Boarding Schools

In Europe, there are schools that accept students for boarding school as young as three years old. In the US however, this is not a common occurrence, as most junior boarding schools focus on middle school students in grades 6 or older. Students who live in areas with poor school systems, as well as students with parents who travel often or whose parents have split up and live far apart, may benefit from the structure, rigor, and stability of a junior boarding school. These schools provide assistance with applying to boarding school, including help with entrance exams like the SSAT. Many of these schools pride themselves on preparing students to attend some of the best private schools, and many graduates do gain acceptance into the best boarding schools. Junior boarding school isn’t for everyone, as some younger students might find leaving home at an early age difficult.


Military Schools

Military schools have been around for years, and have trained many students to pursue military careers. Students wishing to attend a military college, like West Point, will most likely benefit from attending a private military school. These schools usually have strict rules, regimented schedules, rigorous academics, and high standards of appearance and behaviors. A common misconception is that military schools are for troubled teens. While there are some military schools that work with troubled teens, there are also many military schools that have competitive admission, and only accept the best and brightest.  


Therapeutic Schools

Therapeutic schools can range greatly in terms of the support they provide. From behavioral and emotional needs to health and wellness needs, students attending therapeutic schools often have needs that go beyond what a typical private school can offer. Attending a therapeutic school can be an intermediate step to prepare to attend a more traditional college prep boarding school, as many students leave therapeutic schools ready to assimilate into a mainstream classroom.


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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