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Best Boarding Schools

Best Boarding Schools

Boarding schools can be one of the best ways to prepare for college and can even be advantageous when applying to an Ivy League School. By definition, a “boarding” school typically implies that room and board become an integral part of this form of education, which allows students to further focus on their academic success while living on the school’s premises.

While there are numerous articles on the benefits of pursuing a boarding school education, this article isn’t one of them. This article instead breaks down various criteria to determine which boarding schools are the best.

To find which boarding school is, in fact, the best, we compared each school by these 10 criteria:

  1. Location 
  2. Tuition (as a boarding and day school)
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid 
  4. Acceptance Rate
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding 
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio 
  7. Average SAT
  8. Average ACT
  9. Number of students 
  10. Notable Alumni from each school.

There are numerous other factors to consider when comparing boarding schools but at IvyCollegeAdmit, our main goal is to help students get into Ivy League Schools. With this criteria mind, and the overall vision to get into the top colleges in the country, we believe that these are the best boarding in the United States.  

Phillips Exeter Academy

1. Phillips Exeter Academy

Phillips Exeter Academy is one of the most prestigious, private, boarding schools located in the country. This independent, coeducation school for grades 9-12 has been around since 1781 and while it is one of the hardest boarding schools to get into, it is well worth each student’s time as 100% of students from this school go on to attend a 4-year college. Phillips Exeter Academy is widely known as the best boarding school in the country for its unique method of teaching called the “Harkness” method, which is based on discussion and involves student-centered teaching, which pervades every aspect of their lives.  

  1. Location: Exeter, NH
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $57,563 | Day – $44,960
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 45%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 15%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 80%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 5:1
  7. Average SAT: 1470
  8. Average ACT: 31
  9. Number of students: 1085
  10. Notable Alumni: Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook), Franklin Pierce (14th U.S. President), Dan Brown (Author of “The Davinci Code”).

Phillip Exeter Academy is also one of the few boarding schools that offer free tuition to families making less than $75,000, making it a draw to many lower-income households. They are also known for being generous with helping families pay for tuition and offer an Income-Based Financial Aid Estimator which can be viewed here.

Phillips Academy Andover

2. Phillips Academy Andover

Phillips Academy Andover, also known as ‘Andover, was founded in 1778, shortly after its rival Phillips Exeter (shown above). Although Phillips Academy Andover was founded by the same family as Phillips Exeter, it is also an independent, coeducational school with a slightly different curriculum than the former. Some of the brightest minds in the world come from Andover due to its extensive worldview, dedication to innovation, and a tradition of academic excellence. Phillips Academy Andover offers an enormous spectrum of activity and opportunity while still feeling like a personal place for its boarding and day students alike. With the option to do an independent study abroad program, there are immense opportunities for educational and personal growth.

  1. Location: Andover, MA
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $59,850 | Day – $46,400
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 47%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 13%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 75%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 5:1
  7. Average SAT: 1446
  8. Average ACT: 32
  9. Number of students: 1146
  10. Notable Alumni: George W. Bush (43rd U.S. President), Bill Belichick (Six-time winning coach of the New England Patriots), Julia Alvarez (Award-winning Dominican-American Poet, Novelist, and Essayist)

Although the acceptance rate is Phillips Academy Andover is one of the lowest, they offer the highest percentage of financial aid to its students at 47%. Andover also offers a “need-blind” admission policy which is one of the most comprehensive and generous among boarding schools. Regardless of a family’s income, Andover seeks to accept the most promising and talented students despite their financial situation. Phillips Academy Andover prides itself on meeting 100% of each family’s financial need. 

Choate Rosemary Hall

3. Choate Rosemary Hall

Choate Rosemary Hall founded in 1890 is a co-educational, boarding, college-preparatory school located in Wallingford, Connecticut.  Although Choate Rosemary’s tuition comes in higher at $60,950 it is also known for its top tier of academic excellence while 100% of students from this school go on to attend a 4-year college. In addition to Choate Rosemary Hall’s secondary education, this school also offers a postgraduate program for students. This school is known for its diverse educational opportunities and community that foster some of the best academics, athletics, and artistic programs in the list of boarding schools. 

  1. Location: Wallingford, CT
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $60,950 | Day – $47,150
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 33%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 16%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 75%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 7:1
  7. Average SAT: 1394
  8. Average ACT: 31
  9. Number of students: 848
  10. Notable Alumni: John F. Kennedy (35th U.S. President), Edward Albee (American Playwright), Jamie Lee Curtis (Actress is known for ‘Halloween’ and ‘Freaky Friday’)

Choate Rosemary Hall offers a great selection to program and paths for students to follow which makes it one of the most competitive schools on the list.  The average award for financial aid offsets 79% of tuition and Choate Rosemary also offers an Income-Based Financial Aid Estimator which can be viewed here.

The Lawrenceville School

4. The Lawrenceville School

The Lawrenceville School, founded in 1810, is a coeducational college preparatory school for grades 9-12 and also offers a post-graduate year to students that are interested. Unlike the rest of the schools on this list, Lawrenceville is defined by its house system. Much like Hogwarts, Lawrenceville’s house system admits every boarding and day student into 18 different dormitories representing a subcommunity informed by grade and gender. Each year, the houses often compete for academic and athletic honors and have individual traditions like community-service events sports games. Lawrenceville is also committed to its Green Campus Initiative, covering 90% of the school’s energy with the 30-acre solar farm. 

  1. Location: Lawrenceville, NJ
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $67,850 | Day – $56,130
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 31%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 21%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 69%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 7:1
  7. Average SAT: 1490
  8. Average ACT: 33
  9. Number of students: 822
  10. Notable Alumni: Mike Eisner (Former CEO of Disney), Rawleigh Warner Jr. (Former President of Mobil), Jay Carney (Press Secretary for Barack Obama).

The Lawrenceville School proudly offers support students with the financial aid for their demonstrated need. The school is committed to offering support to students from a broad range of economic situations.

St. Paul’s School

5. St. Paul’s School 

St. Paul’s School, founded in 1856, is a highly academic boarding school with one of the largest and most historical campuses in the woods of New Hampshire. This 2000 acre campus houses not only the students but also the teachers. Unlike the rest of the schools on this list, St. Paul’s School is a 100-percent boarding school, making it a unique experience for that reason alone. With some of the most extensive facilities out of all boarding schools, St. Paul’s campus is known as the Lindsey Center for Mathematics and Science, 95,000 square foot Athletic and Fitness Center, dual ice-rinks, and is also located about only 1 hour away from Boston.

SPS awarded more than $11.2 million in financial aid during the 2017-18 academic year alone. We are committed to making our school an affordable option for families.

  1. Location: Concord, NH
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $62,000 | Day – N/A
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 39%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 17%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 100%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 5:1
  7. Average SAT: 1389
  8. Average ACT: 31
  9. Number of students: 534
  10. Notable Alumni: John Kerry (68th secretary of the U.S.), Robert Mueller (FBI Director), William Randolf Hearst (Businessman and Founder of Hearst Communications). 

St. Paul’s is committed to making sure that every student that gets accepted is able to attend despite their financial situation. The average amount of financial aid grants is $56,182 and families with an annual domestic income up to $125,000 qualify for full financial aid towards tuition.  

Groton School

6. Groton School

Groton School, founded in 1884, is a top-rated, private, boarding, Christian school located in Groton, MA. Although the student body at Groton is on the smaller side, around 368, this comes with an advantage of the average teacher to student ratio of 4 to 1. This school is also grades 8-12 and students are required to take at the last five full-credit courses per semester. Groton, in addition to their top-rated academics, also makes the community a priority with many traditions such as morning Chapel Talk, annual school birthday dinner, daily check-ins, and surprise holidays. Groton School is also proud to say that 100% of students who graduate from this school go on to attend a 4-year college, making it one of the Best Boarding schools in America to attend. 

  1. Location: Groton, MA
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $58,260 | Day – $45,370
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 42%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 12%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 85%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 4:1
  7. Average SAT: 1450
  8. Average ACT: 32
  9. Number of students: 368
  10. Notable Alumni: Nicole Piasecki (Vice President Boeing Commercial Airplanes), Bobby Scott (U.S. Representative Virginia), Sam Waterson (Actor and Producer).

Since 2008 Groton has proudly waived the tuition of students that come from families that make less than $80,000 per year. Groton makes all their financial aid decisions based on the fact that all students who attend will attend a 4-year university after college and generously work with families on making sure that the best and brightest students can go to Groton despite their financial situation.

Cate School

7. Cate School

Cate School, located in Carpinteria California was founded in 1910 and has is known as the best boarding school in the state of California. This private, coeducational boarding and day school teaches grades 9-12 and combines the best of East Coast tradition with West Coast energy and innovation. Although there are typically less than 300 students enrolled at Cate at a time, each student is well prepared for college and in 2019 over 60% of its students went on to attend the top 25% of colleges in America and 18% go on to attend an Ivy League school. 

  1. Location: Carpinteria, CA
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $65,500 | Day – $49,700
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 28%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 19%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 82%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 6:1
  7. Average SAT: 1390
  8. Average ACT: 32
  9. Number of students: 298
  10. Notable Alumni: Truman Capote (Novelist of Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Cy Twombly (Award-Winning Painter, Photographer, and Sculptor), Stephen King (Author of The Shining).

The Cate School is also known for providing it’s students with need-based scholarships so each and every student that is accepted is able to attend the school despite their financial situation. 

The Hotchkiss School

8. The Hotchkiss School

The Hotchkiss School, founded in 1891 is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational college preparatory school and is known for its diverse student body and extensive semester-abroad program. With students from over 35 states and 34 different countries, students have a world-class educational experience and can participate in a semester abroad in France, China, Italy, Spain, or one of Hotchkiss’ domestic destinations. Hotchkiss prides itself on its involved faculty members which serve as not only teachers and coaches but also dorm parents, advisers, and tour-guides while traveling abroad during breaks and semesters-abroad. 

  1. Location: Lakeville, CT
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $59,990 | Day – $50,990
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 31%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 21%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 87%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 4:1
  7. Average SAT: 1360
  8. Average ACT: 31
  9. Number of students: 635
  10. Notable Alumni: John Hammond (Singer and Musician), Allison Janney (Actress is known for ‘The West Wing’), Edsel Ford (Son of Henry Ford and Executive at Ford Motor Company).

The Hotchkiss school provides generous financial aid and need-based scholarships to those in need. They also offer an Income-Based Financial Aid Estimator which can be viewed here.

Main school building of Deerfield Academy

9. Deerfield Academy

Deerfield Academy founded in 1797 is a place of modern, dynamic scholarship. Like the former, Choate Rosemary, this independent, co-educational boarding and day school also offers a post-graduate program in addition to its  9-12 education. Through an ever-evolving curriculum, Deerfield offers the teachers and resources that encourage curiosity, innovation, and entrepreneurship in its diverse student body. In addition to Deerfield’s top academics curriculum, students are required to be involved in a co-curricular activity such as community service, dance, theater, or sports.  Deerfield’s program is also known for its enhanced by a bountiful amount of events, clubs, guest speakers, world trips, and community-wide activities—all in support of a rigorous, collaborative, hardworking and well-rounded educational experience. 

  1. Location: Deerfield, MA
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $61,480 | Day – $44,735
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 35%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 15%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 88%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 5:1
  7. Average SAT: 1390
  8. Average ACT: 30
  9. Number of students: 648
  10. Notable Alumni: Jeff Bewkes (Media Executive and former CEO of Time Warner), John Ashbury (American Poet and Novelist), Matthew Fox (Actor known for ‘Lost’ and ‘Party of Five’)

Deerfield Academy is also known for its generous financial aid program to support families that make less than $75,000 a year only contributing only $275 per year. Deerfield Academy also offers and Income-Based Financial Aid Estimator which can be viewed here.

Milton Academy

10. Milton Academy

The Milton Academy, founded in 1798, is a coeducational preparatory and boarding school with students ranging from grades K-12. Milton Academy offers a wide range of classes that allows students to narrow in on their schedules choosing from anything from Latin literature to computer programming to jazz improvisation. Outside the classroom, students also have the opportunity to participate in community service and outdoor programs like kayaking, rock climbing, and camping. Milton Academy is proud to say that 99% of the students that graduate go on to attend a 4-year college.  

  1. Location: Milton, MA
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $61,920 | Day – $51,460
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 35%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 14%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 50%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 7:1
  7. Average SAT: 1395
  8. Average ACT: 31
  9. Number of students: 1020
  10. Notable Alumni: Betsy Beers (Executive Producer of Grey’s Anatomy), Cleveland Amory (Author and Animal Rights Activist), Edward Larabee Barnes (Architect). 

The Milton Academy, like others, is highly committed to ensuring that the best and brightest students can attend the school, regardless of their financial situation. Tuition at Milton is simply based on what percentage of each family’s income can be contributed to education.

Sidwell Friends School

10. Sidwell Friends School

Sidwell Friends School is a top-rated private school located in Washington, DC, and teaches students all the way from PK to K-12. While it’s not exactly a boarding school, we felt that Sidwell Friends should be on this list given its long tradition and history. Founded in 1883, this private, coeducational Christian school is known for prepping all of its students for college as 100% of all graduates from Sidwell go on to attend a 4-year university. This is the only school on the list that is also a Quaker school and provides an education that is based on the Quake Value that there is “that of God” in everyone. Located conveniently in Washington DC, this high school is where many of America’s leader’s children have studied including the kids of Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. 

  1. Location: Washington, DC
  2. Tuition: Boarding – N/A| Day – $39,360
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 23%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 7%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 0%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 8:1
  7. Average SAT: 1430
  8. Average ACT: 33
  9. Number of students: 1245
  10. Notable Alumni: Charles Lindbergh (Pilot and Inventor who made the first flight from NY to Paris), Chelsea Clinton (Author, Politician), Bill Nye (Educator, Comedian, and Science Guy).

Sidwell is one of the most selective private schools in the nation and with 47% of its students being students of color, they are committed to ensuring that each student that is accepted can and will attend Sidwell and financial aid is determined based on their parent’s financial situation. 

Middlesex School

11. Middlesex School

Located just 20 miles outside Boston, Middlesex coeducation, boarding school teaching grades 9-12 has been fostering some of the greatest minds since 1901. Middlesex is known for its deep curriculum with a strong dedication to developing well-rounded and ethical teenagers. Offering a diverse and active community, Middlesex offers 27 varsity sports and a comprehensive student center. Middlesex offers students the opportunity to explore and discover passions, build lasting friendships and endure a challenging curriculum, as stated by the founders, aimed to “find their promise”

  1. Location: Concord, MA
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $64,015 | Day – $51,212
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 34%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 18%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 70%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 4:1
  7. Average SAT: 1410
  8. Average ACT: 32
  9. Number of students: 409
  10. Notable Alumni: Kevin Systrom (Co-Founder of Instagram), Bill Weld (Former Gov. MA), Steve Carell (Actor and Comedian).

Middlesex is dedicated to socioeconomic diversity and offers financial grants to families based on their financial need. You can view the average financial aid estimator here.  

The Taft School

12. The Taft School

The Taft School established in 1890 is a top-rated private, coeducational school located in Watertown, CT, and teaches grades 9-12 as well as post-graduates. Known for its rigorous academics, faculty at Taft are committed to embodying the school’s mission “to educate the whole” student and 100% of students who attend Taft graduate from the high school. With over 200 academic courses to choose from Taft also offers Academic Placement Program courses in 29 different subjects ranging from Mandarin Chinese to Music Theory, to Computer Science. Located on a historic 226-acre campus in CT, students at Taft are also provided with the best facilities to purse and explore different athletics and extra-curricular activities with an 18-hole golf course on campus as well as 2 ice rinks and more than 10 fields around the famous Potters Pond.

  1. Location: Watertown, CT
  2. Tuition: Boarding – $62,500 | Day – $46,500
  3. Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 35%
  4. Acceptance Rate: 20%
  5. Percentage of Students Boarding: 84%
  6. Teacher to Student Ratio: 5:1
  7. Average SAT: 1360
  8. Average ACT: 31
  9. Number of students: 587
  10. Notable Alumni: Jeff Baxter (Musician known for Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers), Henry Beard (Co-founder of National Lampoon), Peter Berg( Actor/ Director of Friday Night Lights). 

The Taft School like many others on the list offers financial aid based on demonstrated need. Taft is committed to enrolling the best student body and makes this possible through their commitment to providing financial aid to those families that are in need of it.  

Boarding Schools: Do they help you get into the best universities?

Overall, the answer is yes. After looking through the best boarding schools in the country, nearly all of them have a 100% matriculation rate and have a long track record of placing students in the Ivy League. With that being said, though, a boarding school may not be the best fit for your child and should be evaluated on a case by case basis.

The students from these schools end up becoming some of the best leaders, innovators, and people that we’ve come to know and when it comes to education, these schools provide some of the best resources and communities to get involved in from not only an academic standpoint but also an extracurricular standpoint

These schools are known for the SAT and ACT scores that are required for an Ivy League education and while the majority of the students are already living on campus, there really is no better way to prepare for the years that follow than by living on-campus and experience a vibrant, intellectual environment where you can pursue your aspirations.  

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