With 99 per cent of The Association of Boarding Schools (Tabs) members accepting overseas students, choices are plentiful for students considering boarding in the USA. According to Annie Lundahl at the organisation that supports its 285 members and promotes international awareness of boarding schools, only three members do not accept foreign students due to regulatory restrictions. “Most would like to admit a diverse group of students from all over the globe,” Lundahl enthuses. “The international mix not only benefits the overseas students it presents US students with a window to the world unobtainable.”
Benefits for international students are also numerous. “When the students are fully emerged into a boarding environment they tend to excel in language development,” notes Christina Townsend Hartz at Grand River Academy in Austinburg, OH. Meanwhile, Andreas Beyer from Educatius a body of schools with private boarding members including Rancho Solano Private Schools in Glendale, AZ asserts, “Boarding schools offer the perfect environment to students lacking motivation. As study periods are scheduled, and because their peers are doing the same thing, it is easier for them to focus. Attending a US high school is also a very good way to gain acceptance into a US university, but boarding schools offer an excellent overseas student experience.”
A full range of programmes is offered at Educatius boarding schools, including the high school diploma, International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP) as well as courses in which students can obtain college credit. “Roughly 35 per cent of our boarding school student population is international,” says Beyer. “We have seen a steady rate of enrolment, although there have been increases from parts of the world including South America.”
And at Meritas International Family of Schools, which includes North Breward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek, FL, 20-to-30 per cent of high school students are international boarders. “Living in the dormitory truly creates a sense of independence and maturity for the students who are away from home many for the first time and helps them learn a true sense of responsibility and discipline,” explains Gabriel Providel, adding that Meritas boarding students have the choice of studying the high school diploma as well as the internationally recognised IB. “But regardless of qualifications sought, all our students receive an individually tailored curriculum and instructional methods... designed to identify the students’ strengths and opportunities for growth.” The unique geographical setting of Meritas schools helps students make the most of their time outside the classroom, he adds.
Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA), VA an all-boys institution that adopts aspects of the military system to teach students good values operates an interesting academic programme called the One Subject Plan for students in grades nine-to-12. Students are taught one subject for seven weeks and are then graded, and at the end of the year, students will have learnt five subjects like at their regular US high school counterparts. “By studying only one subject at a time, the student can focus and make better grades,” relates Cindi McIlnay. In addition to the high school diploma, the school offers honours classes, advanced placement classes and college course classes, she says, enthusing that recently the salutatorian and valedictorian were both overseas students. Currently with 55 international students out of a total of 450, she adds, “Our internationals have been accepted to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the USA.”
And at Besant Hill School in Ojai, CA, “We offer a strong college preparatory curriculum in most science courses,” says Kristen Kaschub. “We have labs for all sciences, and we also offer 30 electives in arts.” With facilities including a visual art studio, music rooms and a theatre for performing arts, the ESL programme offers “small, discussion-based classes”. Chinese students are the most eager to come to the USA, in Kaschub’s opinion, followed by Germans.
In terms of international recruitment techniques, Hartz from Grand River Academy, where overseas students have an American room mate and can enrol on an intensive five-week ESL summer programme, explains, “We market with many agencies and are also members of Tabs. We do some recruitment trips and school fairs throughout the country.” Also citing these recruitment methods, Kaschub adds, “As we move further into the digital age, varying forms of online media will be used, such as social media,” explaining that many people do not know what they are looking for when it comes to boarding schools overseas.
In conclusion, Providel notes steady growth in international enrolments at Meritas in recent years, which can, in part, be attributed to global school promotion strategies. “And it is not lost on us that our growth story has mirrored the noticeable increase in demand across many international markets for high school boarding programmes in the USA.”
Annie Lundahl, Director of Marketing, The Association of Boarding Schools (Tabs)
“Established in 1995, Tabs leads an international effort to promote awareness and understanding of the virtues of boarding schools, and to expand the applicant pool for member schools. In total, 99 per cent of our members welcome international students. Tabs hosts boarding school admission fairs in Asia each autumn and in Latin America next spring. Most members would like to admit a diverse group of overseas students representing societies from all over the globe, but both demand and family financial situations vary a lot from country to country.
“Currently, about 35 per cent of our international students come from just two countries: China and Korea. More than 100 other countries are represented in the other two thirds. In addition, access to student visas ebbs and flows with political events, and our member schools have no control over that. Also, our US members do not benefit from a fully-coordinated recruiting effort with post secondary institutions, as boarding schools in other nations do.
“Barring new international tensions, we expect the current gradual rise in international student numbers to continue, although it is likely that the mix of source countries will change. In most source countries, US (and Canadian) boarding schools are considered to be of the world’s highest quality.”