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The most dynamic American boarding schools in 2021

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US boarding schools provide the opportunity for academic excellence, enriched character development, and increased self-discipline. Source: Buffalo Seminary

American boarding schools are known to offer stability, continuity and some of the best offerings that create a well-rounded learner. They provide the opportunity for academic excellence, enriched character development, self-discipline, as well as critical and independent thought. There’s more to it than just academic success — higher education and professional development are taken into consideration and integrated into curricula early on. 

The proof is in the data. According to a survey by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), boarding school students succeed at significantly higher rates than private day and public school students. They are also more likely to progress in their careers and earn an advanced degree. Here are three US boarding schools with a track record of such success:

Buffalo Seminary

boarding schools

At SEM, you can expect standards but not standardisation. Source: Buffalo Seminary

If you want your child to experience the power of an all-girls education, then Buffalo Seminary (SEM) is the school for you. SEM’s cosy campus is located in the historic and bustling Elmwood Village neighbourhood in Buffalo, New York. Its unique location means parks, galleries, notable architecture, shops, and cafes are just a stone’s throw away.

Here, students learn and grow in a diverse yet intimate learning environment. The school has 172 students from eight different countries, including Mexico, China, South Korea, and Vietnam. Their academic programme prepares students for the rigours of college and instils them with a passion for lifelong learning.

Students learn through the Harkness Discussion method — a teaching and learning method where students sit in a large group to discuss ideas in an encouraging, open-minded environment. This prepares them for the seminar classes they will encounter at college.

Each senior student is also required to complete a Capstone Project, which are highly individualised and may include original research, community service, performance, studio production, and entrepreneurship.

Students are offered honours and AP classes; they have over 40 diverse electives to choose from, including astronomy, French cooking, and tech entrepreneurship. SEM also offers 33 student-run clubs and 17 athletic teams to inspire students to develop new skills and lifelong passions outside the classroom.

The student experience at SEM is also unparalleled with both serious and fun traditions over 100 years old. Each day, students and faculty start their day together as they gather for a Morning Meeting, which begins with singing in the chapel. Each fall, new students who enter SEM are sorted into one of the school’s teams: Hornets and Jackets. Their Honor Code fosters an environment of trust and respect to ensure each student treats themselves and other members of the community with consideration, and practices respect for the intellectual and artistic property of others.

The Webb School

Picture all the perks of a rural location in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, with Nashville, one of the South’s iconic cities, home to famous recording artists, writers, world-renowned chefs, and rich cultural heritage, only a short drive away. An outdoor programme that makes the most of surrounding natural areas through hiking and white water rafting on the Ocoee River, a former Olympics site. Every weekend, there is something new to do. From music to art and theatre, there are opportunities to explore one’s creativity and find one’s voice. 

Source: The Webb School

The Webb School emphasises independent thinking, creative initiative, personal integrity, and civic responsibility. Source: The Webb School

These features define an education at The Webb School. Founded in 1870 by noted educator Sawney Webb, it is the oldest continuously operating boarding and day school in the South. Today, it provides a distinctive education — focusing on challenging academics with an emphasis on personal integrity in a small family-like setting — to 400 students in grades 6 to 12.  

What sets The Webb School apart is how it develops character. Focusing on community and relationships, children get a down-to-earth upbringing that places honour and personal integrity in every aspect of school life. Other unique offerings include Webb’s Wilderness Instruction and Leadership Development (WILD) programme; Emerging Voices Programme; global curriculum and personalised approach.

Little surprise a recent survey found that students and parents are very happy with their Webb experience. In a world shrouded by negativity and polarisation, parents felt Webb’s inclusive community stood out. Here, integrity is the cornerstone, where children respect themselves and others, living together in harmony. To learn more about how Webb creates voices that matter, click here.

Blue Ridge School

What sets Blue Ridge School apart is that its core offerings are complemented with specialised programmes that are relevant, progressive, and future-focused. Source: Blue Ridge School

Located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the Blue Ridge School welcomes young men from 23 states and 17 countries, between grades nine to 12. This is an all-boys, all-boarding school with a mission to help boys reach their potential through personalised, structured, innovative learning practices in a college-preparatory, all-boarding community.

What sets Blue Ridge School apart is that its core offerings are complemented with specialised programmes that are relevant, progressive, and future-focused. The school’s curriculum is tailored to an individualised learning model designed specifically for boys on their way to college. The best part? They serve as effective pathways to college or university – nurturing foundations that make for an easier transition. This is a community where the students, the faculty, and the parents work together for success — not just in the classroom but also in life.

Here, students are equipped for the next stage of their education with college counselling throughout the high school journey — a preparatory effort that has contributed towards Blue Ridge School’s 100% college acceptance rate. 

“Blue Ridge has definitely made me a more well-rounded student. Being a scholar has always been a goal of mine, but Blue Ridge has also allowed me to participate in activities I most likely would never have had the opportunity to partake in,” shares student leader Franck Germain.

The Forman School 

A Forman education is immersive, collaborative, and nurturing. Source: The Forman School

Set in Litchfield, Connecticut, the Forman School provides a holistic academic experience to its 236 students. A Forman education is immersive, collaborative, and nurturing. Forman is a place where every student is known well, connection amongst students and faculty feels like family, and big dreams and aspirations are fulfilled.

“Forman holds true to the rich traditions of a college preparatory boarding school while also providing an innovative and dynamic academic programme designed to bring out the best in each student,” says Adam K. Man, Head of School.

The classic college-prep curriculum sets the foundation, equipping students with the knowledge to excel in English, mathematics, history, and science. Here, the goal is to ensure young talents diagnosed with learning differences such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and executive function deficits are guaranteed the four-year college experience they deserve — and more. 

At Forman, academics come first, but extra-curricular activities are just as important. From traditional interscholastic sports to surprising options like culinary arts and theatre, there’s something for everyone. That’s not all. Don’t be surprised to see boatbuilding, rock climbing, dance, recreational skiing and snowboarding, and white water kayaking on the school’s activity list. 

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International