The decision to send your child to an international boarding school is a weighty one that comes with great risks and rewards. The opportunities that come from studying abroad at a young age prepare students for a rich, diverse academic and professional life, beginning in their earliest years.
Asian students who attend boarding schools gain exposure to cultures and ways of thinking that will prepare them for university and professional careers abroad. These students emerge from international boarding schools as well-rounded individuals, with a strong understanding of not only mathematics, science and fine arts, but also of intercultural exchange and a broad worldview.
Boarding school students tend to be better prepared for college life, avoiding the pitfalls of waywardness and flailing through the first few years of freedom. Having already become accustomed to living on campus and being responsible for attending classes and organizing their schedules without a parent overseeing the process, students mature and find their own rhythm well before they begin their first semester of university.
Instructors at international boarding schools tend to be of the highest caliber, meaning that students are being taught by exceptionally well-qualified individuals.
Boarding school educations are designed with all elements of a child’s development in mind: their academic learning as well as the personal and social aspects of their character. In addition to their course offerings, most boarding schools also provide students with numerous opportunities for extracurricular activities.
According to The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), students who attend these private institutions spend significantly more hours on their schoolwork and on sports and creative activities than students of the same age at public schools.
TABS has quoted 80 percent of boarding school graduates as saying they were well prepared overall for college life, including when it comes to socializing and maintaining their personal routines and lives.
Career prospects are also bright for boarding school graduates, according to TABS. It has noted that up to 60 percent of former boarding school students achieve prominent management positions midway through their careers. The comprehensive scope of such a non-traditional education may also contribute to why these graduates are also more likely than others to give toward philanthropic causes.
International boarding schools provide all of the benefits of in-country private schools, as well as the added bonus of global experience. No amount of studying and hours spent playing sports with classmates compares with the invaluable time spent forging friendships and learning to navigate society abroad. To live outside one’s home country and spend even a portion of his or her adolescence in a foreign place provides life experience that will inform their interests and career choices throughout their life.
For families trying to choose the right school, it is vital that they begin the application process early. International students will need to contend with visa applications and country requirements and it is essential to work through those in order to ensure a smooth transition to the new school. This is especially true for international students seeking a spot at a boarding school in the United States.
There are many factors at play when selecting a school, and there are steps to take to narrow those down to the best fit. These include an informational interview, during which parents and students can discuss with admissions officers any special needs or concerns they may have about the student life experience. Some schools may offer the option of an overnight visit, during which prospective students can meet those currently at the school and gain a better sense of what life is like at that particular institution.
The following list offers insight into student life and standards at some of the top boarding schools in the world.
STRATHALLAN SCHOOL, SCOTLAND
The UK’s Strathallan school is a leading educational institution for students as young as nine years old through 18 years of age. Strathallan maintains a prestigious and well-earned reputation that is has cultivated since its founding in 1913.Though Strathallan was first opened as a school for boys, the first girls were welcomed into the classes in 1979 and the school continues as a co-ed institution today. Situated on a beautiful pastoral campus in rural Scotland, Strathallan provides a spacious and comfortable place students can call home as they learn and grow among their teachers and peers. Read the full profile…
THE KING’S HOSPITAL, IRELAND
The King’s Hospital School is Ireland’s premier boarding school, home to several hundred students and ideally located just outside Dublin city limits. King’s Hospital prides itself on nurturing students who become intelligent and ethical individuals. Their academic standards breed excellence: the school boasts a 100 percent rate for graduates who move on to university and third level education after leaving King’s Hospital. The administration strives to impart the school’s core values to students, such as honesty and responsibility.The co-ed student body of 700 is comprised of 50 percent boys and 50 percent girls. Half of the students live on campus while the others are dayschoolers. Read the full profile…
SOTOGRANDE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, SPAIN
The Sotogrande International School lives up to its name. This Andalucian boarding school currently enrolls students of 40 different nationalities and runs a curriculum that embraces and promotes a global mindset. Sotogrande’s is an International Baccalaureate (IB) program, making it a particularly attractive school for students who hope to pursue university degrees abroad, particularly in the United States. The IB Diploma at Sotogrande meets the standard program requirements, with an additional Creativity, Action and Service component meant to heighten student learning and understanding of the world. Students here have the opportunity to study English to the point of fluency, and pursue numerous academic interests. Read full profile…
ROSSEAU LAKE COLLEGE, CANADA
Rosseau Lake College is the preeminent boarding school in Canada, boasting exceptional academic and extracurricular programs and a tradition that values community and leadership. Despite being a younger institution — Rosseau Lake was founded in the late 1960s — it has developed a reputation as a high-level boarding and day school that is continuing to gain international renown. Opened in 1967 as an all-boys academy, Rosseau Lake began enrolling female students in 1983 and has been a thriving co-ed institution for students in grades 7–12 ever since. Admissions at Rosseau Lake are competitive, and prospective students are encouraged to apply early. Read the full profile…
WOODSTOCK SCHOOL, INDIA
For families in Asia seeking a high-level boarding school that offers a unique learning experience but is still in the region, Woodstock School is an optimal choice. Woodstock epitomizes the blend of East and West in India. The campus sits in the gorgeous Himalaya mountain range, and the teachings and philosophy are influenced by Himalayan culture and Western Christian thought. Woodstock was opened in 1854 as a missionary school, an identity it maintained more or less through the first half of the 20th century. Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, the administration began to reevaluate Woodstock’s mission and philosophy and repositioned it as an international center of learning, welcoming international students and faculty. Read the full profile…
BOX HILL SCHOOL, ENGLAND
The Box Hill School is a an independent boarding school of international character that caters to students ages 11–18. Box Hill pupils enjoy a premium location only 40 minutes outside of London and thrive in an environment that puts personal development on the same level of importance as academic achievement. As a Round Square school, Box Hill upholds the principles of internationalism, democracy, environment, leadership, adventure and service. These are the ideals the faculty and staff strive to impart to students in order to prepare them for lives of global service and success. A recent Independent Schools Inspectorate Report found that Box Hill students possessed an outstanding moral awareness and cultural development. Read full profile…
INSTITUT AUF DEM ROSENBERG, SWITZERLAND
The Institut auf dem Rosenberg is one of the world’s leading international boarding schools for students aged 6-18. The school was founded in 1889 and is well known for its excellence in education through an individual and international approach to learning. Rosenberg’s teaching philosophy is based on a wide choice of academic streams, a staff to student ratio of 1:4 and an average class size of 8 students per course. Successful graduates are usually multi-lingual and receive offers from leading universities worldwide. The school, which is set in a 100’000m2 private park with picturesque historic buildings that are all being maintained to the highest standards, provides unmatched quality in accommodation in a safe and harmonious environment. Read full profile…
BELLERBYS COLLEGE, ENGLAND
Britain’s Bellerbys College is specifically aimed at preparing pupils for their university careers, and is well-suited to those students seeking the extra advice and training to get them into a top school. Bellerbys four campuses are situated in Brighton, London, Oxford and Cambridge. Each is in an advantageous location, and whichever campus students opt to study at, they will be surrounded by rich culture and the stimulating British education system. Bellerbys is unique among boarding schools because of its clear emphasis on higher education and career preparation. At Bellerbys, there are numerous course options from which to choose. Read full profile…
PHILLIPS EXETER ACADEMY, UNITED STATES
The Phillips Exeter Academy is one of the most well-known and respected prep schools in the United States. The school offers rich academic and student life opportunities, and has since its founding emphasized the balance of intellect and good character. For international students, Exeter offers a Transition to America course, through which non-native speakers can practice participating and engaging in a comfortable environment. Exonians, as students are called, have the opportunity to travel for service learning trips, preparing them for professional life anywhere in the world. The school also offers extensive college counseling services as for students and parents as they make the decision about where to apply.
RENDCOMB COLLEGE, ENGLAND
Rendcomb College bills itself as a preparatory school that “educates the whole child,” and has programs for students three to 18 years of age. Students from 11 years old may board at the school, and are invited to participate in a number of activities both in-house and with residents of the other houses. Activities are age-appropriate and foster a sense of community among all students. Prospective Rendcomb families are invited to visit during a school day, to gain a true understanding of what study, play and life are like at this quaint campus. As they grow, students may study math, sciences, modern languages and psychology, among numerous other offerings.
BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET
At the British International School in Phuket, students aged 18 months to 18 years are immersed in rigorous academic learning and Thai and British culture. Boarding students have the chance to experience and learn from the wealth of Thai wildlife surrounding them through regular school events and trips. The primary and secondary programs have been carefully built to address the educational, social and emotional needs of British International School students. The school boasts an impressive language program, through which pupils can learn Mandarin, Russian, Thai and Korean. They are also required to study subjects from the arts and experimental sciences, solidifying their strong academic foundation before graduating from the school.
ST. GEORGE’S SCHOOL, SWITZERLAND
This Swiss boarding school boasts a highly international student body, with its population of 480 representing 53 nationalities. Enrollment is open to students from 3 to 18 years. The school was founded on the principles of education and peace through goodwill. All students in the senior school are assigned a tutor who monitors their progress, and many go on to well-respected universities throughout the world. These include Cornell and Northwestern in the United States, and the London School of Economics. In 2010, 100 percent of students who tested for the International Baccalaureate program received the prestigious diploma.