How to pick a boarding school?

ibd-london's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,770

My uncle wants to send his son whose turning 13 next year to boarding school. Money is not a problem. He wants to send his kid to a co-Ed school; all the best ones are in the US (Andover Exeter Deerfield etc). I think he should send him to an all-boys school (which may be a boarding school in the Uk where there are better all-boys alternatives). Frankly, my cousin is a bit sissy - he gets preyed upon very easily. I think going to an all-boys school may kick some personality into him. If geography wasn't an issue, how should he think through this? This question is posed strictly from a personality-development perspective; I'm not debating prestige

Comments (49)

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 6, 2020

Your uncle should hire a prep school admissions consultant to help navigate this process.

Jan 6, 2020

as long as it isn't CHODE ROSEMARY HALL you're good

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Jan 7, 2020

You have boarding schools rankings for the UK but most of them don't seem to matter too much. A lot of well known schools end up sending kids to top unis, so "exit opps" are not an issue. I would pick based on what life the kid wants to have. You can go very posh (Eaton), a bit fratty (Dulwich College), or campus life (Tonbridge) etc. There are plenty to pick from - I would take 2 weeks to come to the UK and attend loads of open days

Jan 7, 2020

Writing as a recent alumnus of one of the top UK all-boys public school (one of the original schools chartered by the Crown)

@The Pharma Guy
*Eton College. It's the poshest school but worth noting that all the other public schools, and many of the other private boarding schools, have a posh vibe to them.

There are a quite a few boarding schools in the UK, both all-boys and coed, which would be great options. I really enjoyed my experience, though there were definitely people I knew who didn't. It's not for everyone, but it certainly helped shape me through some formative years! The network I've developed through the school has also really helped in my consulting recruiting, probably more so than my Oxbridge one if the interviewer is from the same school, seemingly due to tighter links.

I'd say the key differences to take note of and consider are:
1) boarding - is it full board (everyone lives in school, eg. Harrow) or are there day-schoolers as well (eg. Tonbridge)

2) academics - presumably the student will stay at the school until university, so might be good to keep in mind the choice between A-levels and IB at different schools (though most schools understandably still tend to offer A-levels). School's overall academic results and university placement is hard to analyse due to different composition of student types (academic, sporting etc.) but any top school will have good support for students aiming high.

3) any particular sports/opportunities that schools offer/emphasise - the traditional sports are rugby, football and cricket but unique ones include rowing etc.

Similarly to how I've found recruiting, it's a really competitive process - there are 'legacy' equivalents who've had their names down to join the school since birth, royalty, billionaires and some of the brightest/most talented kids around! Equally, you might not click with all the interviewers. So I think similar advice applies in that if you do decide to go down this path, definitely visit as many schools as you can and apply for all the schools possible! (This can add up due to all schools charging an application fee)

You can find a list of schools online - they require advance notice usually even for open days. If you arrange a private visit, it's good to note that the bursar or whoever is showing you around will somewhat assess you (more of a casual 'fit' interview if you will) ahead of the actual interviews, in which you might do tests and stay overnight at the school.

Hope that's useful!

Array

Jan 7, 2020

Thank you, this is helpful. I know some folks who went to Eton, Harrow and Wellington. Solid chaps with a lot of personality. The only thing I've noticed about the top UK Boarding schools is that the college admissions aren't as solid as the US ones. Sure, a few % of folks at these public schools go to Oxbridge or the LSE each year, but the whole list or the admission stats aren't as impressive as the US ones. Any thoughts? Also, for folks who end up hating the experience, does it to have to do with home-sickness, bullying or linguistic limitations? What in your view seperates the kids who go to Charterhouse, Tonebridge from the ones who attend Eton or Harrow?

    • 1
Jan 7, 2020

Replying to your points:

1) This is purely my view as I'm not overly familiar with the American education system. I think this is a combination of a few factors. There are more, by volume, reputable/'top' universities in the US (compared to basically just Oxbridge, LSE/Imperial/UCL in UK). Boarding schools tend to send more students to their home market, thus just by the numbers UK boarding schools have fewer choices essentially for UK universities, compared to easily double the options for US schools, potentially making their admissions seem less impressive. In addition to this, there is some control regarding university applications - you can only apply to one of Oxbridge, plus they essentially have a limit of how many public school students they can take (and are under constant pressure to reduce this). Its also worth considering where he would plan on going to university - a top US boarding school might prep him better for US unis (and vice versa in UK) as their entire system will generally be geared around that, though I know that most top UK boarding schools have a good support system for aspiring US Uni applicants.

2) With the top boarding schools, there's generally a good geographic mix of students, all of whom tend to be fluent/pick the language up very quickly. I think, as in most situations, its mostly the group of friends you land in (or lack thereof) that can make or break your experience. It tends to come down to the personality of the student, which is why its not for everyone but its always hard to tell at that early age as there are plenty of people who seem like they'd fail in that system yet change dramatically over the experience. In that sense, its worth giving it a go for a couple years if you have the financial means to!

3) I went to one of Eton/Harrow and have friends in all the schools you've listed, including *Tonbridge. The honest answer is there's not much difference at the age you're talking about entering (13+ I believe). If you're talking about kids with similar background (eg. not comparing Indian royalty to an average international applicant), they consider your personality, academics and extra-curriculars just like any other school. At that age, there is little room to differentiate in the latter two unless the kid is already brilliant/has been training at something all his life. So for most, it comes down to their personality (ie do the housemasters/bursars see them fitting in and thriving in the school) - sociable, active kids seem to be what they look for. As a result, to get into Harrow/Eton, provided you don't have significantly elevated social status or considerable talent in something, you need to check all the other boxes, have some spunk to you and be lucky!

Array

    • 1
Jan 7, 2020

can confirm that my md where i interned was from eton - he was a rain maker; sourcing deals left right and centre. How? All his mates from eton were MDs at pe funds looking to invest/exit - It was nuts. Eton and Harrow have the networks that are long established and so my md basically goes to work with his school mates. pretty cool.

Most Helpful
Jan 7, 2020

Went to boarding school in the US, but lived in the UK so familiar with both systems. This may irritate some people, but the US boarding school admissions process is far more rigorous on average than at comparable UK schools. In terms of specifics without having done a quantitative study I would bet that the % of legacy type admissions who would not meet standards otherwise is higher for the UK schools than US ones. Let me give you an example: in the UK many schools allow parents to "put their child down" on a list way ahead of entry to secure a place at a school (this is more for middle schools, called junior schools, but still would never fly in the US). Whereas in the US system you usually have to go through an intense interview process with testing/almuni interviews etc near admission (no such thing as getting to go just because your parents thought of it early). In my opinion this results in a better quality student body (of course top performers in each are comparable). If you care about the quality of education/experiences it's not even close. The reason is because of the fundamental difference in the culture of alumni giving and endowments. Many US boarding schools have larger endowments than UK universities let alone boarding schools (a cursory look shows Andover has a larger endowment than all UK universities save Oxbridge!), and you better believe this translates to quality of teachers, facilities, research opportunities etc. As an aside I grew up with a lot of British friends and they were incredulous that as a non Brit I would ever consider university or grad school in the UK if I could go to a comparable one in the US (not boarding school, but similar thing holds). Having said that, your uncle is highly unlikely to be a able to "pay" for him to get into any school in the US, so some onus will be on the kid. If he wants that, there are plenty of solid all boys boarding schools.

A couple other considerations: if he is as how you describe he could really struggle in a UK school given there are hazing type considerations that would not fly at a US school. Yes, you may be thinking this will toughen him up but I have seen the opposite where these experiences have irreparably damaged kids (and yes there are ways for him to "grow" in a US school). The UK boarding school scene can also be a tough place as a non-elite Brit (you know who i mean), so if he does not fit that then he will likely have a more positive experience in the US.

A few final considerations: Where does he want to end up? Clearly if UK then go UK or if if interested in a country that has ties to the UK then UK because he will benefit from the aforementioned network, but if he is location agnostic would pick US.

    • 4
Jan 8, 2020

i'm not sure i agree with your point - in the uk, roughly 7% of people go through private school system, but oxbridge is c.55% privately educated. most world class uk universities at 40%+ private school kids.

also, regarding lse, many students (myself included) didn't want to spent their undergrads in london, instead opting for a more fun, more student-y experience in smaller towns/cities with strong academic institutions. living in london as a student is financially crippling.

Thank you for your interest in the 2020 Investment Banking Full-time Analyst Programme (London) at JPMorgan Chase. After a thorough review of your application, we regret to inform you that we are unable to move forward with your candidacy at this time.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 10, 2020

I attended Eton / harrow / Westminster type of school in UK some time ago when I was 13. Had to drop out after a year due to home-sickness so didn't complete o / a levels there. Ended up relocating to my home country in Asia where I attended a school also classified as one of the top boarding schools in the world (200 year history). I wish I had completed my time in the UK though - didn't realize back then how lucky I was to be there. Anyhow, I often wonder if I should bring up my UK public school days in conversations ? Would I look like a schmuck? For what it's worth, I have had a successful professional career so far since uni and grad school

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Funniest
Jan 7, 2020

don't send him to a boarding school and instead use the money to inject testosterone in him

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    • 2
Jan 7, 2020

The boarding school market is very efficient so there should be very little difference in utility less costs (I.e. value) across schools. I'd try to get the kid into an index portfolio of schools (rotate schools each week) to maximize sharpe

    • 5
Jan 7, 2020

I highly recommend taking a visit and touring a handful of boarding schools to get a better feel for what you're looking for. You'll be able to speak with admissions and interview. Plus you'll likely be taken around by a student and be able to ask more tailored questions. If I were a parent the most important things to me would probably be the academics (classroom size, teaching styles), community (what're the kids like, will my kid fit in, social groups), campus feel, athletics, and matriculation.

Coming from boarding school, there is a huge difference from Andover,Exeter to Hotchkiss or Deerfield, etc. Each school is unique to a degree... all depends on what family is looking for.

    • 2
Jan 7, 2020

Surprised nobody mentioned Le Rosey.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 7, 2020

I was going to but it's not really known for it's academic rigor. If money is no problem, solid vacation for sure. Doesn't really feed into ivies as much as Georgetown, NYU, USC, etc.

Jan 7, 2020

Le Rosey is for Le pussies we're talking red blooded AMERICAN schools here

Array

    • 2
Jan 7, 2020

Thanks all, this was very helpful.

Jan 7, 2020

Send him to Avon Old Farms in CT, that will beef him up quick.

Array

    • 4
Jan 7, 2020

Avon OLd Farms is for rich dumbasses who after attending Southern Methodist in Dallas will work for their fathers because no one else will hire them.

    • 4
Jan 10, 2020

LOL +1

Jan 7, 2020

TASIS

Jan 7, 2020

Not a boarding school, but if your uncle is willing to make arrangements, my top pick would be the Roxbury Latin School in Massachusetts. All-boys and really academically rigorous. It will transform your sissy cousin into a fine young man prepared to take on higher education/life.

Jan 7, 2020

Generally speaking, would you say there's any difference between graduates of all-boys school vs. those of co-ed schools, in terms of personality?

Jan 7, 2020

I am shocked no one really addressed OP's assumptions that all-boys school will help his personality (or have a significant on boys personality)

I think the impact will be minimal and ephemeral and could backfire big time. I also think it is far too early to guess someone's future personality at 13.

Jan 7, 2020

All-boys means too much testosterone leading everyone to do crazy shit.

Having girls present means boys do crazy shit to impress girls.

Take your pick.

Jan 8, 2020

^^this.

Can confirm. Went to a coed boarding school in Connecticut. Nothing like throwing a bunch of hormonal teenagers into a long-term sleep-away situation in the middle of nowhere to stir the pot.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 8, 2020

Does single sex private school mean all teachers are also of the same single sex?

Jan 8, 2020

No.

Jan 8, 2020

Sounds like the kid would fit right in at Cheltenham

  • Prospect in IB - Ind
Jan 9, 2020

Groton school, The Governor's Academy, Middlesex, Milton Academy, Brooks, and St. Marks are all massachusetts schools that are great choices; they feed the NESCACs

  • Analyst 1 in ER
Jan 10, 2020

Did you go to one of them lol

Jan 10, 2020

If he's gonna pony up the money and do it, he should at least pick a HADES school (Hotchkiss, Andover, Deerfield, Exeter, St. Pauls)

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 20, 2020

All good shit

Jan 9, 2020

I attended woodberry forest, feel free to PM

    • 1
Jan 10, 2020

Imagine going to a school with only dudes from the ages of 12-18. I seriously feel sorry for some of you. And I went to a HS where it wasn't uncommon for gang-related fights to occur, although these "gangs" weren't really hardcore (ie. weren't gunning each other down).

Jan 10, 2020

so badass dude

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    • 2
Jan 10, 2020
analyst200:

so badass dude

Not as badass as Woodberry Forest my guy. Sounds like a gauntlet.

    • 1
Jan 20, 2020
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