Choosing US Boarding Schools

Common years to begin US Boarding School Education

Age 13 (Grade 9) [HK F3]

Preparation begins one year before entry

1st year of high school in the US


Age 14 (Grade 10) [HK F4]

Preparation begins one year before entry

2nd year of high school in the US

Age 18 [HK DSE/ F6 grad]

Entry into University/ College/ Community Colleges

Earlier or later?



● Early exposure to a foreign environment allows students to get used to the new environment faster and to better assimilate into local community and campus life

● Early immersion into an English language environment will promote fluency at an earlier age


● May find it difficult to cope with foreign environment without parents around

● May struggle to keep up in class and/or integrate with wider student body if English language level is below peers



● More independent

● As each school and its environment is so different, an older student may be better placed to determine which school can cater best to their academic and extracurricular interests and strengths

● English language level of student may be higher, hence it is easier to keep up with academic work and make friends


● May find it difficult to cope with new-found freedom in US education

Application period

● Applications start one year before admission

2. Academic Profile – Is the school the right academic fit for your child?

  • The most elite schools may not offer the learning environment that is most suited for your child
  • Different schools are suitable for different children
  • Choose a school that is the right academic fit for your child
  • Compare school academic results and university entrance rate, especially Ivy League placements
  • Find out what is important for you and your family, and compare the school philosophy with your expectation

3. Specifics of the school – What is the school’s curriculum, type, size, location, administration?


Does the school offer Advance Placement  (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB)?

Size of campus

Does the school have a big or small campus?


Full Boarding Schools: All students must live in school dormitories

​Boarding-Day Schools: Option to stay at school dormitories 

Military Schools: Military education system; uniforms required; mostly boys schools

5-Day Boarding Schools: Students may leave campus during weekends

Pre-Professional Arts Schools: Especially for music, performing arts, or arts training

Co-educational Schools, Boys Schools, Girls Schools

Size of student body

How many students are there in the whole school? 

How many students are there on average in each class?

Size of staff body

How many teachers/staff are there? How many/which staff live on site?


Is the school in an urban or rural area (for easier care by relatives/friends during holidays)? 

How integrated is the school into the local area? 

Is there a closed campus in one location or is the school spread across several locations? 

How far do students have to travel to visit the local town on a weekend/ during free time?


Who runs the school, e.g. a family, an individual, a charity, a board of governors etc.? Is there a good relationship/communication between the school and the PTA (Parent Teacher Association)?

4. Composition of Students

  • The percentage of international students at the school: around 10-20% of overseas students may be a better ratio for your child to know the local students well and integrate into a new culture
  • Origins of the international students at the school

5. Specialism(s) and facilities of the school

  • Is the school specially known for Sport / Music / Drama / Learning Support etc.?
  • What are the academic facilities and departments like? 
  • Does the school have up-to-date learning equipments and technology?
  • What facilities are available? Some schools may have an indoor swimming pool, equestrian training arena, and even kart track.
  • Does the school provide support for special educational needs and/or students with disabilities?
  • What kind of entertainment and after-school clubs, activities and school trips does the school offer?

6. School fees

  • The average annual boarding school tuition fee usually range from $25,000 to $45,000 per school term
  • There are 2 school terms per year:
    1st Term (Sept-Dec) with 3-4 weeks Christmas Holiday break
    2nd Term (Jan-Jun) up to Summer Holiday break
  • There are also several short weekend holidays per year (exeats) that students can stay with guardians or host families

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