The top boarding schools in the US comprise dedicated faculty (who often live right by campus), talented students, and a host of exciting educational and extracurricular opportunities. Contrary to stereotypes, these schools introduce students to a boarding school experience that is rich, challenging, and transformative.
Two types of boarding schools exist in the minds of many Americans. The first is the elitist world we glimpse through the lens of television and film: bright and beautiful people for whom boarding schools are a springboard to wealth, influence, and high culture. The other image is the threat given to some children: shape up or get shipped off to a boarding school in Switzerland. Neither of these images is true to the boarding school experience available in the US today.
Parents and students may choose a prestigious, private boarding school for their rigorous academic program that challenges students in ways they have never been in a regular secondary school. A boarding school ensures that boarding students are fully immersed in a learning environment where education is the main focus of all activities.
Most boarding schools, including those belonging to the independent boarding school category, maintain a small student body with a 12-student class size on average. Boarding students take an active role in their education. After the school day is over, teachers who live on campus are available for further assistance.
Attending a boarding school, whether a coeducational school or an all-girls boarding school, has several advantages. Students participate in various activities that will help them gain new cultural experiences, make friends from around the world, gain greater independence and confidence, learn new languages, and expand their social networks.
A boarding school offers a multicultural, inwardly-focused environment. Boarding students study their academic programs alongside peers and teachers from many religious traditions, ethnic origins, and cultural backgrounds.
Daytime education and residential schooling are highly dissimilar. Boarding schools excel in creating and implementing challenging and inspiring curricula for students.
Leisure time activities have historically been a key component of student life in boarding schools and have strengthened the sense of community among students.
For many students, starting school in an unfamiliar place emphasizes a challenge. However, kids spend more time together than ever in day school, so they frequently adjust to living away from home and rapidly make new friends. They develop independence and autonomy from their parents.
Because boarding schools maintain a low student-to-teacher ratio, students will have more personalized attention that will help them prepare for their four-year education major. Students also create resumes, which are crucial for college admissions and job decisions.
Many boarding schools provide advanced courses to aid students in selecting the ideal vocation after graduation and have strong connections to Ivy League schools like Harvard and Columbia.
Strong ties remain among the friends who first meet at the boarding school. Living together, caring for and supporting one another, participating in community service, and spending significant time together all contribute to the sense of family unity. A boarding school encourages students to develop the strongest connections.
A top-notch boarding school prepares students for success throughout their lives, but some of the most prestigious boarding schools are quite picky about which students are suitable for the experience. The list’s most exclusive boarding schools are those that are hardest to gain admission to. Below are the most selective boarding schools along with their admission rates:
Although there are more than 300 boarding schools across the US, the majority of people have never experienced one in person. Many of the top boarding schools are located in the Northeast where the tradition of boarding school extends back over 200 years. Even so, boarding school campuses can be found in locations all over the US: from Florida, to Texas, to California.
For the purpose of this list: A boarding school can be defined as a place where students are housed, fed, and educated in one location by a committed and capable group of staff and faculty. Most boarding schools offer options either to board on campus or to attend as a day student and return home in the evenings. Though some boarding schools are exclusively for students living on campus, day students typically comprise a small minority of students at a boarding school. Many boarding schools were founded with a religious or military affiliation, but have been adapted to meet the needs of twenty-first century learners.
Students choose to attend boarding schools for a variety of reasons. Faculty at boarding schools typically have a higher percentage of advanced degrees than their public or private school counterparts, and the curricula tend to be more challenging and varied. Students seeking an Ivy League education, an opportunity to spend time in a foreign country, or the chance to work in world-class facilities often find that boarding schools provide the ideal launching pad for attaining such goals.
Although boarding schools may seem like a non-starter for many parents and students, in fact these schools should be on the radar of students seeking admission to top-tier colleges and universities. Many boarding schools offer
postgraduate programs, in which students newly graduated from high school have a chance to spend an additional year at a boarding school, making their résumé that much more competitive before they apply to college or university. Boarding schools typically even award a high school diploma to students taking such a
gap year (giving students two high school diplomas!).
The opportunities offered and the level of attention provided at a top boarding school do come with a price tag, but there are abundant scholarships and financial aid options available to parents. The average cost of boarding schools in the US is currently $56,875 per year (as of 2021, according to the Boarding School Review), but 46% of students at boarding schools receive financial aid of some type (according to the National Association of Independent Schools), and the average amount of aid is $24,747 (according to the National Association of Independent Schools).
The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why influence gets at the heart of what is truly best in education.
If you are serious about finding the best boarding schools, you should be asking where the most influential faculty are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.
Our influence ranking engine consults the largest repositories of open source data on the Web and entrusts their analysis to machine-learning technology. These databases contain billions of continuously updated data points, which by their nature resist biased manipulation and by their scope contain built-in protections against wholesale gaming.
Our technology thus uses artificial intelligence (AI) to
Importantly, our machine-learning technology doesn’t simply scrape the web for mentions. Influence at AcademicInfluence.com is therefore not a popularity measure. Rather, the AI underlying our InfluenceRanking engine drills down deeply to
Find out more about our methodology here.
More commonly known as Andover to avoid confusion with rival school Phillips Exeter Academy, Phillips Andover is the oldest boarding school in the United States. Founded in 1778, the school’s rich history is continued today by students from 44 states and 51 countries (11% of the student population is composed of international students).
Academically, the school boasts over 300 courses with 150 electives. Long known as a feeder school for Yale due to its proximity, the school routinely sends students to all of the Ivy League schools and other prestigious universities.
The school’s motto of non sibi which translates to
not for self shows the aim of the school to balance academic excellence with an awareness of community and global engagement.
Exeter, New Hampshire
Simply referred to as Exeter, Phillips Exeter is a boarding school for grades 1–12 located in Exeter, New Hampshire. Founded in 1781, the school has one of the highest percentages of faculty with advanced degrees: an impressive 80%. The school offers over 450 courses in 18 different areas and utilizes the Harkness method to showcase learning as a democratic process.
Students at Exeter hail from 44 states and 31 countries, and they offer programs across five continents to broaden students’ worldview and expose them to diverse experiences. In addition to the traditional four years of high school, Exeter offers students the opportunity to participate in a postgraduate year as well.
Founded in 1890 as a co-educational school that balances traditional roots with modern technology and innovation, Choate has implemented a 1:1 iPad program to ensure that students have the technology available to meet their academic needs.
An impressive 88% of the 115 faculty members reside on campus, making the community incredibly tight-knit. Choate offers eight signature programs to enhance student learning including Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, opportunities to spend a term abroad (paused due to COVID-19), Advanced Robotics, and Environmental Immersion Program. Choate has students from 35 states and 35 countries, making it the perfect opportunity for students to immerse themselves in international languages and cultures.
Choate does not require students to take the SAT or ACT for admittance, as they believe admissions is a holistic process.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
University of North Carolina School of the Arts, founded in 1963, was the first public arts conservatory in the United States. Since then, the programs have expanded to include students pursuing high school, undergraduate, or graduate degrees in a variety of arts. Students at the high school will graduate with a high school diploma with an arts designation preparing them to pursue their passion at the highest collegiate level
In addition to the focus on the arts, students may choose from a wide variety of AP classes. One hundred percent of the faculty have graduate degrees in their field, ensuring students are exposed to the highest level of academic rigor.
Kent School was founded in 1906 and prides itself on a
relationship-built program that nurtures students’ academic, spiritual, social, and emotional growth. Kent is located just 90 miles from Manhattan, but its bucolic 1200 acre campus borders the Appalachian Trail and allows students to feel secluded from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Academically, the school boasts 28 AP classes, and 71% of their faculty have advanced degrees. Students can choose to study a wide variety of languages ranging from Ancient Greek to Chinese. Twenty-eight percent of students are international and have come to Kent to study from 37 countries around the world before beginning their college careers at prestigious universities.
Mount Hermon, Massachusetts
Northfield Mount Hermon School was founded in 1879 by the famous evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Originally two schools, Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies and Mount Hermon School for Boys, the schools merged in 2005 to become a single, co-educational campus.
From the very beginning, the schools were committed to diversity and included Native Americans and former slaves among their first students. Today, that commitment has led to the student body being composed of 23% international students and 20% students of color.
The school is committed to preparing all students for college and takes the unique step of lengthening all classes to 80 minutes to mirror the college model and allow students to delve deeper into subjects. Students can choose from an array of 208 classes ranging from The Evolution of Hip-Hop to Modern Hispanic culture to explore new and engaging topics of study.
Hotchkiss School, founded in 1891, is consistently ranked as one of the top five boarding schools in New England. The school’s two founding principles are academic excellence and accessibility, and they pride themselves on graduating students who are change-makers and leaders. Seventy-two percent of the faculty hold advanced degrees and have an average of 22 years of experience.
Adjacent to the campus is Fairfield Farm, a 287-acre working farm where students have the opportunity to learn about sustainable and organic agriculture. The farm provides 30% of the produce eaten in the dining hall, and students can engage in hiking, gardening, and livestock raising.
Milton Academy located in Milton, Massachusetts (only eight miles from downtown Boston), was founded in 1798. Of the 140 faculty members on campus, 75% have advanced degrees and all are committed to creating a collaborative learning environment where students are encouraged to have lively discussions instead of merely listening to lectures.
Milton students are encouraged to participate in the arts, and over 100 of their students are involved in the orchestra. The school puts on 10 major theater productions per year and boasts eight singing groups and 10 student-run publications.
For students who are more athletically inclined, Milton has 15 interscholastic teams for both girls and boys. One hundred percent of students participate in sports either through intramural sports, interscholastic sports, or physical education classes.
The Hill School was founded in 1851 by Rev. Matthew Megis. Originally an all-boys school, The Hill School became co-educational in 1998 and now has an almost 50/50 split of male and female students attending.
The 62 faculty members at The Hill School hold 32 master’s degrees and seven PhDs between them and offer AP courses, college-level courses, and honors courses to meet each student’s needs. Students are encouraged to interact with faculty at family-style meals.
Students can choose to participate in six Signature Programs including one in Eudemonia (a Greek word meaning
the worthwhile life”) where according to the school website they can learn how to “capitalize upon human resources to make the most of their potential.
Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Wayland Academy was founded in 1855 as a Baptist university. The school still retains some of its religious history, and students attend a weekly non-denominational chapel.
Students at Wayland all complete a Senior Capstone project to showcase their creativity. Projects from 2020 included sewing a traditional Japanese robe, constructing musical instruments for therapy, and translating a book from Chinese to English.
The four Corinthian pillars of a Wayland education are Scholarship, Faith, Health, and Service, and students are encouraged to participate in the wide variety of activities offered to ensure their time at Wayland prepares them to be leaders in these disciplines.
PinkHawley, professional baseball
Deerfield Academy has been educating students since 1797. A co-educational high school, more than 90% of the students choose to live on campus before heading off to the college of their choice.
Of the 136 faculty members, 98% of them choose to live on campus, making the school an excellent place for in-depth learning both in and out of the classroom. The school offers 170 courses as well as multiple opportunities for students to engage in volunteer work and community service.
The school instills students with an appreciation for global awareness and preparedness for a rapidly-expanding world. Students are also taught the value of environmental stewardship and asked to do their part in aiding their local community before stepping into the wider world.
Founded by Endicott Peabody in 1884, the school has remained intentionally small in order to focus on achieving the highest student outcomes.
With an endowment budget that offers an astounding one million dollars per student, the school prides itself on offering students excellent financial aid packages to attract talent. Students who graduate from Groton are prepared to perform at the highest levels in college whether at the Ivies or other acclaimed schools.
Groton has a long history of inclusion and progressive thinking. Booker T. Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. both addressed the campus, and the student body is composed of 48% students of color and 13% international students. The school has also had the distinction of hosting two presidents, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, as speakers.
New Milford, Connecticut
Canterbury School located in New Milford, Connecticut, has recently constructed 22,000 square feet of new space to increase their ability to serve students. The school was founded in 1915 and has remained committed to its initial five values of honesty, respect, compassion, spirituality, and self-reliance.
A power-house for AP classes, the school had 131 students take 272 AP classes across 18 subjects in 2018. Over 70% of the faculty hold advanced degrees and, and all seek to inspire students to grow both academically and personally.
Classrooms have been renovated to incorporate SMART technology to offer the most cutting-edge educational experience possible to prepare them for college classrooms.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Admiral Farragut Academy, a co-ed, college-prep private school in St. Petersburg, Florida, was founded in 1933 and named after the first U.S. Naval officer to achieve the admiral rank. The school’s boarding program begins in 8th grade, allowing students to get a jump start on their high school careers. They also offer a lower school program for students in kindergarten-7th grade.
Farragut provides students with a level of military-style structure in order to prepare them for the rigors of college life. Graduates regularly attend military-affiliated colleges, the Ivies, and other top-tier colleges such as Duke and Clemson University.
Students at Farragut are kept active through kayaking, playing basketball with friends, and through any of the 12 interscholastic sports teams. Students can also enjoy unique experiences such as Aviation, Scuba, Sailing, Drill Team, Color Guard, and more.
St. Mark’s School is an Episcopal school in Southborough, Massachusetts, and was founded in 1865. St. Mark’s is committed to offering students the opportunity to become global citizens. Nineteen percent of their student body is comprised of international students, and juniors and seniors have the option to spend a year studying abroad in one of the most distinguished School Year Abroad programs in the nation.
Students at St. Mark’s have the unique opportunity to participate in the Gray Colloquium. The Colloquium addresses one global issue each year, and students attend lectures, write papers, and engage in discussion to develop opinions and creative solutions. This exposure encourages students to start thinking about the wider world and how they can make an impact.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Fairbault, Minnesota, was founded in 1858 and is a co-educational school for students in grades 1–12. The school is home to 10 Centers of Excellence in fields such as BioScience and Engineering to encourage students to pursue their passions in developing fields and prepare them to take on college at the most innovative and future-focused institutions.
As students at Shattuck near graduation, they enter into the ScholarShift program. This program was designed in 2018 to prepare juniors and seniors for college life. Classes are taught in a blended model different than that of a typical high school in order to help students learn to self-manage their schedules and prepare them for a 21st century job market.
Roswell, New Mexico
New Mexico Military Institute founded in 1891 in Roswell, New Mexico, is the
only state-supported co-educational college prep high school and junior college in the United States according to its website. The unique opportunity for students to prepare for and attend college at the same institution sets the school apart from other boarding schools.
Students receive leadership training through the JROTC program available at NMMI. Students who decide to remain at the school and receive their Associates of Art or Science degrees are also available to receive a commission in the US Army through the school’s 2-year Early Commissioning Program.
In addition to military careers, students at NMMI go on to purse college degrees in a wide array of subjects, and the school has a number of graduates who went on to win Pulitzer Prizes.
Georgetown Preparatory School located in Bethesda, Maryland, is an all-boys Jesuit school founded in 1789. The school focuses on educating young men in mind, body, and spirit, and emphasizes the importance of service to others. Students participate in service projects throughout the school year and are also encouraged to take part in a more extensive Summer Service Trip before beginning their senior year.
Students engage in a traditional Christian curriculum that includes requirements in Theology, Latin, and Christian Service. The school offers 25 AP classes and 85% of the faculty hold advanced degrees. The school boasts the honor of graduating two sitting Supreme Court Justices: Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.
The school is also home to a recording studio the produces two compilations per year. Students expand their knowledge of the music industry and hone their talents at no additional cost during the school year.
Newark, New Jersey
St. Benedict’s Preparatory School located in Newark, New Jersey, was founded in 1868 by Benedictine monks. The school serves students in grades K-12, and is co-educational although the high school is broken into all-male and all-female divisions.
As part of its mission, the school is committed to serving those students from traditionally underserved communities, particularly minority groups and students from low-income households. Their rigorous, college-prep curriculum leads 98% of their students to attend college. This is an impressive stat in the Newark area particularly where only 12% of the adult population hold college degrees.
St. Benedict’s prides itself on creating a sense of community for students who have often had to overcome many obstacles in order to receive an education
Middletown, Rhode Island
St. George’s School located in Middletown, Rhode Island, was founded in 1896. Its beachside location makes it distinctive among most boarding schools. Students can surf and take in the ocean views and are sill only a short walk to the town of Newport. The school owns a 70-foot cutter named Geronimo that allows interested students to sail to the Bahamas for research or the Mediterranean to soak up some sun.
80% of the faculty at St. George have advanced degrees, and the school offers 115 courses for students to choose from. The athletic department has 42 interscholastic sports including everything from squash to ice hockey. Students leave St. George instilled with a sense of
Dragon Pride and their extensive alumni network keeps graduates engaged long after they’ve left the school to pursue college dreams.
The Thacher School in Ojai, California, was founded as an all-boys school in 1889 and the first co-educational boarding school in California in 1977. Thacher distinguishes itself from other boarding schools because of their diverse array of options to further student academic and personal growth. Home to an observatory, 120 horses, and an outdoor theater, students have options for constructive and fun ways to pass the time when they aren’t studying.
The school challenges students through activities like horseback riding and backcountry trips, but it also has a high level of academic rigor. Seventy-three percent of the faculty have advanced degrees and students are routinely prepped for college admission through mock interviews and college fairs that host representatives from more than 40 distinguished colleges and universities.
Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, was founded in 1901 and named for the county in which it’s located. The school places an emphasis on writing, with all sophomores attending a weekly Writing Workshop focused on expository writing in addition to their regular classes. Course offerings are diverse and include a deep-dive into the similarities between Shakespeare and Harry Potter as well as over 20 AP classes.
71% of the faculty hold advanced degrees, and the most popular colleges for graduates over the past five years include Harvard, Dartmouth, and Boston College.
The school encourages students to engage in the practice of mindfulness, which they define as
inner education. There is a dedicated Mindfulness Director on staff to help students learn how to be more aware of relationships with the environment, and all new students are required to take an Introduction to Mindfulness class.
Fessenden School in Newton, Massachusetts, was founded in 1903 and serves boys in grades preK–9. The upper school consists of students in grades 9–9. Fessenden is the oldest junior prep school in the US, and prides itself on the long tradition of offering young men an educational experience tailored specifically to their needs.
The school has built its instruction model around hands-on and engaging projects and activities to keep students thinking critically and creatively. Seventy percent of faculty members hold advanced degrees, and the average level of teaching experience is 15 years.
Fessenden prioritizes collaboration over competition and attempts to allow students to explore their passions in order to take ownership of their educational experience.
South Kent, Connecticut
South Kent School in South Kent, Connecticut, is an all-boys school founded in 1923. The school prepares young men for college by focusing on graduating students who are emotionally intelligent, collaborative thinkers. The school offers AP, SUPA, and college credit classes and over half of their faculty members have advanced degrees.
The school has a thriving athletic program and frequently sends athletes to Division I schools to further their sports careers in college. The school has won 51 championship titles in 18 sports.
The academic calendar at South Kent is unique as each student takes one intensive, interdisciplinary course each quarter utilizing the block schedule. This format allows students to tackle in-depth problems and immerse themselves in their field of study.
Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, founded in 1843 and best known for being the school attended by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. This all-girls school was considered radical for most of its history, when the idea of educating women wasn’t widely accepted. Today, the school focuses on preparing students for their chosen college and career paths through an interdisciplinary, liberal arts curriculum.
Students begin receiving college counseling in their 9th grade year in order to clearly define their college goals and put them on the path to achievement. Many students go on to attend Ivy League schools and other top colleges and universities.
Seniors collaborate with faculty to produce a Capstone project that answers a question in their chosen field and helps refine skills in research and presentation before they take their academic careers to the college level.
Lawrence Township, New Jersey
Lawrenceville School in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, was founded in 1810. Students are placed in one of 18
houses based on gender and grade. These houses serve the dual purpose of allowing students to connect and fostering a sense of community and closeness within the larger organization.
Lawrenceville uses the Harkness method of education to instill a sense of ownership into student learning and bolster student engagement in class discussions. The 700-acre campus allows students a sense of freedom and offers resources such as greenhouses, two recital halls, and even access to a farm.
The most popular college choices for Lawrenceville graduates over the past three years have been NYU, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, began in 1890 with 17 students. Since then, it has grown into a thriving, modern, co-educational school that strives to create life-long learners. The school offers over 200 courses and 99 of the 113 faculty members hold advanced degrees. With options for boarding, day students, and remote learning, Taft has an instruction method to fit each student’s needs.
Learning extends through the summer at Taft, with a varied summer reading list meant to keep students’ minds engaged during down time. Upon returning to campus, students get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to listen to many of the authors speak. Recent authors who have lectured at Taft include Tara Westover (Educated) and Jason Reynolds (All American Boys).
St. Albans School (commonly called STA by students and faculty) is an all-boys prep school located in Washington, DC. Founded in 1909, the school is open to boys in grades 1–12 and is part of the National Cathedral Close.
Of the 75 members of the Class of 2020, 57 of them chose to attend Ivy League schools. These impressive numbers are facilitated by an excellent college counseling program and a faculty made up of 67% advanced degree holders.
Students may take advantage of the STaYSmart program, a study skills support program that helps students plan for assignments and prepare for finals and standardized tests.
Blairstown, New Jersey
Founded in 1848, Blair Academy is a dynamic, coeducational boarding school located in northwest New Jersey. Here, as members of an inclusive, vibrant community, 460 students pursue a superior college preparatory education and explore their passions in the arts, athletics, academics and service.
Strong faculty-student relationships foster personalized learning opportunities and academic achievement, while our cross-curricular public speaking and leadership programs teach students to advocate for themselves and others. Project-based learning in our technology-rich Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration, enhanced research opportunities in the expanded Bogle Science Center and meaningful service initiatives help prepare students for success.
Blair graduates are empowered to become persons of great accomplishment and character who distinguish themselves at top colleges and as leaders in their professions and communities.
Blair in Kenyafounder
Woodberry Forest, Virginia
Woodberry Forest School is a prep school located in Woodberry Forest, Virginia. Founded in 1889, Woodberry is one of the only all-boys, all-boarding schools in the nation. Seventy-two percent of the faculty hold advanced degrees and are committed to creating lessons and curricula that cater to boys’ unique learning styles.
Woodberry has a designated technology department geared toward preparing students to meet the demands of a twenty-first century job market. Students have access to 3-D printers and learn how to use cutting-edge CAD and LogicPro software.
Upon graduation, Woodberry students are prepared to succeed at top-ranked colleges and universities throughout the country.
The Putney School in Putney, Vermont, was founded in 1935 as part of the Progressive Education movement then sweeping the nation. Putney takes the commitment to a research-based curriculum seriously and does not offer AP classes or put stock in standardized tests. Instead of teaching students how to recite information for a test, Putney puts the emphasis on experiential, hands-on learning, from academic projects to running the campus farm.
Far from a drawback, this unconventional plan from an institution that takes pride in not being a prep school has enabled students to gain admission to Ivy League schools, competitive state universities, and a variety of art and technology-specific institutions over the past three years.
The school is located on a working dairy farm, and all students are required to work in the barns for at least one semester before graduation.
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania, is a PK-12 co-educational college preparatory day and boarding school founded in 1799. It offers a challenging and diverse curriculum that emphasizes intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, collaboration, service, and social action. Students are encouraged to take risks and to discover their individual voices, talents, and purpose.
65% of the faculty hold advanced degrees and focus on preparing students for the college career that best suits their individual needs, whether an Ivy League school, a Research I school, or a small liberal arts college.
Westtown’s Quaker history impacts the school and makes it an inclusive, caring place. Guided by the Quaker belief that God shines through all people and creates an
inner light, the atmosphere of the campus is accepting and respectful of all people and their beliefs and backgrounds, and the student body is diverse.
In addition to a traditional diploma, students can also achieve a Deep Dive Certificate by participating in the Deep Dive Designation program. Certificates are available in five fields: social entrepreneurship; global leadership; data-driven change; sustainability leadership; and diversity, inclusion, and social justice.
Fork Union, Virginia
Fork Union Military Academy in Fork Union, Virginia is an all-boys military academy that was founded in 1898. The school serves students in grades 1–12 with a postgraduate year and takes a different approach to instruction called the one-subject plan. Under this plan, students take only one subject at a time (the school year is divided into five 7-week grading periods to facilitate this) and spend all day with one instructor. This structure allows students to immerse themselves in the topic at hand and benefit from prolonged one-on-one attention from faculty.
Fork Union has distinguished itself nationally for its athletic program. The school regularly sends students to Division I sports and has had many graduates end up in the NBA, NFL, or Olympics.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas is a co-educational boarding school serving students in grades 6–12. Founded in 1950 by the Episcopal Dioceses of Texas, more than 50% of the faculty at St. Stephen’s hold advanced degrees.
Signature academic programs include core courses in history, English and theology, along with Social Science Seminars, service learning and outdoor education that takes advantage of the school’s 374-acre campus. St. Stephen’s location in Austin, Texas, offers all the amenities of a big, thriving city with easy access to natural beauty and outdoor activities. These include a world-class university, a diverse array of athletics, arts and cultural events, as well as water sports on nearby lakes and hiking and camping in the neighboring Texas Hill Country.
Between the years of 2018 and 2020, St. Stephen’s has graduated 26 National Merit Semifinalists, 44 National Merit Commendations, and 14 National Hispanic Scholars. Graduates from St. Stephen’s go on to attend highly-selective institutions including the Ivies.
Highstown, New Jersey
Peddie School in Highstown, New Jersey, is a co-educational boarding school serving grades 1–12 and a postgraduate year. Founded in 1864, the school boasts an impressive 90% of faculty who live on campus and 75% of them hold advanced degrees.
Peddie is home to the Izzo Design Lab, an state-of-the-art facility home to 17 workstations, cutting-edge design software, a CNC laser, 3-D printers, and a testing studio. The lab is home to the Robotics Team which competes at national and international contests.
Students at Peddie can also choose to study abroad in China, France, Italy, or Spain at one of their School Year Abroad programs before graduation. The Class of 2020 attended such schools as Princeton University, Davidson College, and NYU.
Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts, was founded in 1922. The school is home to over 70 student clubs and organizations so that every student can find their niche. Ranging from the Dessert Club to the Big Data Club to the Harry Potter Club, as well as more traditional language and arts groups, there is a place for everybody to explore their interests at Concord.
Concord does not rank students or offer any types of academic awards in order to foster a collaborative environment instead of a high-pressure competitive feel. One hundred percent of Concord students go on to study at a college of university either directly after graduation or after taking an interim year. Over the past four years, the top three schools attended by Concord graduates were Tufts University, Wesleyan University, and New York University.
Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia, is an all-boy military prep school founded in 1909 with students in grades 7-postgraduate. Hargrave offers AP and honors classes and a unique How To Study Program. This program teaches students valuable lessons to ensure that they are studying effectively for the rigorous curriculum and standardized tests.
Students are able to take AP classes, and upper high school students may take dual-enrollment classes where they are able to receive college credit while still in high school.
Hargrave has a well-known postgraduate basketball team that regularly wins championships and funnels players into distinguished college programs.
Madeira School in Fairfax, Virginia, in an all-girls school founded in 1906. The student body represents 22 states and 35 countries. Fifteen percent of students are international students. Students can enjoy the views of the campus situated on the Potomac River and are only 10 miles from Washington, DC. Ninety percent of the faculty hold advanced degrees, and 38 members of staff reside on campus.
Students at Madeira can participate in their Global Citizenship program whether they choose to study abroad or participating in project-based language classes. In the past four years, the most popular college choices for graduates have been William and Mary, University of Virginia, and New York University.
La Porte, Indiana
La Lumiere School in La Porte, Indiana, was founded in 1963 and is located only 10 miles from Lake Michigan and 60 minutes from downtown Chicago. Sixty-three percent of the faculty have advanced degrees, and the school offers 15 AP courses. Students from the school represent 15 countries and nine states and 13% of the student body is intentional students.
In addition to traditional study abroad programs, students at La Lumiere have the opportunity to take service trips abroad as a way to gain service credit and cultural experiences. This international exposure prepares students not only for colleges in the US, but also to continue their education abroad. Students from the Class of 2018 chose to attend college in places like Dublin, Aberdeen, and British Columbia.
Lake Forest, Illinois
Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois, was founded in 1857 and is conveniently located 30 miles from Chicago. Seventy-one percent of the faculty live on campus and hold advanced degrees. Students hail from 15 states and 35 countries, but all bring with them the dedication and tenacity to compete in a rigorous college prep curriculum. Twenty-two AP classes are offered at Lake Forest, and 100% of graduates attend college.
Every year the Lake Forest community delve into a topic in the Head of School Symposium by listening to lectures and taking relevant trips. Recent symposium topics have included Inequality and Global Poverty, Russia: Revolution and Resurgence, and The Brain: Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation.
Santa Catalina School in Monterey, California, is an all-girls school for grades 1–12. Founded by the Dominican Order in 1950, it is now an independent Catholic school. The school utilizes a traditional liberal arts curriculum and offers 11 AP classes and 18 Advanced Topics classes for students to choose from.
Santa Catalina utilizes both the all-girls environment and Christian tenets of the school to ensure that students realize the importance of serving others and their communities. The school is committed to enhancing diversity to strengthen relationships, and 19% of the student body is international students.
The most common colleges that graduates have attended in the past five years were the University of Southern California, Chapman University, and the University of Oregon.
Buxton School in Williamstown, Massachusetts, is an intentionally small, private school founded in 1928. The small size of the school fosters an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere where everyone knows each other and students feel comfortable making their voices heard.
The traditional curriculum is enhanced by a Buxton specialty. The Urban Intensive is a school-wide trip taken once a year to a city of interest. Students help arrange travel accommodations to familiarize themselves with the process of planning and booking trips. Once at the destination students engage in community service, perform plays, and focus on an individual passion project such as creating a documentary or studying a specific aspect of the city. Recent Urban Intensives have taken students to places like Cuba and Nicaragua.
Oak Ridge, North Carolina
Oak Ridge Military Academy founded in 1852 in Oak Ridge, North Carolina, is a co-educational military school dedicated to shaping future military and civilian leaders. Students at Oak Ridge participate in JROTC and have the option of joining the distinguished Honor Guard.
30% of the students at Oak Ridge are international students, making it a hub for students to learn about different cultures, languages, and ways of life.
Classes are taught in a traditional, highly-structured environment designed to prepare students for the college classroom. One hundred percent of graduates in the past ten years have attended college. Students are frequently taken to local college fairs and can schedule visits and interviews with universities they are interested in pursuing.
Indian Springs, Alabama
Indian Springs School in Indian Springs, Alabama, just outside of Birmingham, was founded in 1952 and instructs students in grades 1–12. One hundred fifty students took AP tests in 2020, and 70% scored a three or higher with six students achieving the recognition of National AP Scholars.
Of the 37 faculty members, 33 have Master’s degrees, 11 have obtained PhDs, and 15 live on campus. Indian Springs utilizes a Hybrid Flexible learning model that allows distance learning to feel more like in-person instruction. Each classroom has 360-degree cameras to create an immersive experience for students who cannot be in the classroom. The school uses ViewSonic ViewBoards with built-in Zoom technology so that students out sick or out of town will never miss a moment.
Students from Indian Springs go on to pursue degrees at colleges such as Dartmouth, Emory, and College of Charleston.
Worcester Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts, was founded in 1834 and is one of the oldest boarding schools in the US. The school aims to teach substantive material that will be of use to students in college and the workforce. An innovative spirit, strong work ethic, and sense of purpose are the three defining concepts of the learning experience.
Students must take on a Graduation Project in either career exploration, masterworks, a capstone, or service learning. Recent projects have included an exploration of blacksmithing, composing and recording an album, and designing and building a full-scale functioning car.
Over the past five years students have matriculated to colleges such as Columbia, Harvard, Furman, and Purdue.
North Andover, Massachusetts
Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts, founded in 1926. Seventy-eight percent of the 63 faculty members have graduate degrees, and 93% of students at Brooks take AP classes. Brooks requires 90 credits in order to graduate and offers 151 credits for students to select from.
Every January, students at Brooks participate in an intensive, three-week period called Winter Term. Students pick a course from an extensive list and combine classroom learning with hands-on experience. Recent courses have included The Art and Science of Scuba Diving and Shredding Sociology.
Each year at Brooks, nearly 100 college advisors visit the school to make students aware of the college and university options available to them. Graduates from the Class of 2020 attended schools like Boston University, St. Lawrence University, and Trinity College.
Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, Missouri, was founded in 1889. All students at MMA are required to participate in a sport, and their graduates frequently go on to play at Division I schools and pursue athletic careers.
MMA has developed a 360-degree Education Program in order to develop students’ minds, bodies, and spirits. It balances a maturing student’s need for independence and structure by incorporating subjects like physics, art, and business. Students are encouraged to be well-rounded in their education in order to become leaders and succeed in college and beyond.
The Class of 2020 attended 99 different universities across the nation including Cornell and Fordham.
Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine, was founded in 1836. The school offers 11 AP classes to support the traditional college prep curriculum, and 62% of students scored a three or higher on their exams in 2020. Gould has a Four-Point Program that focuses on a different educational aspect each year. Ninth grade is immersion where students focus on travel, tenth grade is expression where students delve into the arts and community service, eleventh grade is awareness where students tackle the great outdoors and learn leadership skills, and twelfth grade is independence where students take on internships or individual travel opportunities.
The school’s location makes it ideal for athletes who enjoy winter sports. Over half of the students competed on snow last year, and 103 athletes competed at regional and national competitions.
The most popular college choices for recent graduates have been Syracuse, George Washington University, and Montana State University.
Portsmouth, Rhode Island
Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, was founded in 1926. The school offers 70 different course options, and 80% of the faculty hold advanced degrees. Students at Portsmouth are required to be involved in a co-curricular after school program each semester to broaden their knowledge and experience in areas of interest.
Students are encouraged to pursue their love of visual and performing arts through courses like AP Art History and Ceramics. Athletically-inclined students can join one of the 43 teams available.
Last year, graduates from Portsmouth attended 62 different schools, with Boston University and Johns Hopkins being two of the most popular options.
Culver Academies is a combination of three distinct campuses: Culver Military Academy for boys, Culver Girls Academy, and Culver Summer Schools and Camps all located in Culver, Indiana. Founded in 1894, the school boasts several unique aspects such as a dedicated horsemanship program and a Global Studies Institute dedicated to keeping students up-to-date and informed about international affairs.
The large equestrian center on campus has 94 stalls and is the home for four horsemanship teams. The school has had participants from their teams in 17 presidential inaugural parades.
87% of the faculty at Culver have advanced degrees, including 22 instructors with PhDs. The school offers 26 AP classes, and last year students took a total of 761 AP exams.
The list above is of the best boarding schools in the United States. Because of strict and high standards for rankings, other well-known boarding schools weren’t included on the list. If you haven’t found anything on the list that suits your child’s needs, you can also explore the list of boarding schools below. You can visit their school website to gather information.