If you’ve decided that boarding school is the right option for your child, then the options available can feel somewhat overwhelming!
There are a lot of great, high-quality schools out there, and knowing which is the best one for your child can be difficult. However, if you take a methodical approach, then you can be sure that you have carefully considered all of the options available and arrived at the best possible choice. Hopefully with minimal stress.
Get started early
This is the most important thing you can do. By starting early you give yourself enough time to get acquainted with all of the available options and to thoroughly do your research. More importantly, you give yourself time as a family to discuss said options, and to allow your opinions to evolve as you learn more and mull over the options.
Ideally, you should give yourself a couple of years to complete your research and application process before you plan for your child to attend the school.
Create a long list
At this stage you don’t need to think too hard about what might be a good fit, because you will narrow this down later.
The first step is to create a list of all of the schools that look good to you, and use their websites to get an idea of what each one has to offer. If there are student comments, pay close attention to these, and it’s a good idea to get an idea of any notable alumni and links to universities or colleges that would be of interest to you and your child.
It’s a good idea to keep all of your schools in a spreadsheet, so that you can easily access them later, along with their web addresses and the addresses of any social media pages that might be relevant. You can create a shared document in Google that allows multiple people to edit it, which is great for keeping track of comments from multiple family members.
Narrow your options
Once you have your long list, you can start narrowing it down by asking questions about what you want from a school.
Think about things like location, the size of the school, whether you would like a religious or a secular school, whether there are any special interests to take into account, and what kind of educational philosophy you prefer. The Rugby School, for example, takes a holistic approach to education, meaning that they place as much importance on co-curricular pursuits as purely academic ones.
Once you have narrowed down your long list to 3-5 schools, you can start planning school visits. Be sure to pay attention to the students and staff when you’re looking around, and if possible try to talk with them to get a realistic impression of what life at the school is like.
Preparing for the exam
Many boarding schools will have an entrance exam, so it’s a good idea to start preparing as soon as possible.
Get an idea from past exam papers what kinds of things might be covered, and consider investing in a tutor.